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View Full Version : My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder



JonathonWilder
2013-07-11, 01:13 PM
I have watched and looked through many threads during my time as a roleplayers, and read through many/most of the books for D&D and Pathfinder and one complaint/concern I have come upon is how full spellcasters are so much more powerful. I has seen so many ways people have tried to fix the seeming issues with these classes yet one thing that has never come up is how Clerics, Druids, and Wizards were is 2nd edition.

Now through and through I am still a 3.x Edition player, though I have found interest in Pathfinder, yet my gaming group only plays 2nd Edition D&D. Because I still want to roleplay I had needed to take a step back and play the older edition... and what I have found?

Gary Gygax actually knew what he was talking about, yes roleplaying games now a days have more experience and resources to draw upon now but without Gary there would not be a D&D, a Pathfinder, and likely many other roleplaying games of the pen and paper/tabletop sort.

What was his answer to the potential power level of each class? Well first off he had never intended for Fighters and Wizards to be on the same experience scale, the way he saw it becoming a skilled fighter took a lot less time then becoming a skilled wizard which could take a lifetime. The way the experience scales being setup because of this is that Wizard needed much more experience points to get to level 20.

The reason Clerics, Druids, and Wizards are so powerful is because they are not supposed to level up as quickly as they do in 3.x and Pathfinder. They are not supposed to have access to higher level spells as quickly as they do. That and there is the general misconception that all additional sourcebooks are free game to use (when a DM can rule out many or even all of them) and even a misunderstanding of some of the spell rules. People have also forgotten that many rules are supposed to be enforced through roleplay.

An example of this being the Polymorph school of spells, especially Shapechange. A part of the rules for the spells forgotten is that the character can only transform into that which they are familiar with, thus what they want to change into is effected by rarity and knowledge of what they want to become. So as a DM if a player says "my character becomes a dragon" I would ask, "has your character ever met a dragon? Has your character had time to study and research a dragon?" If the character has not and/or the player fails a knowledge roll they cannot become a dragon. This would also apply to Druids, at least it should I would need to check the rules, as how can a Druid become that which they have never seen or learned about? Heck it should be noted that the knowledge of dragons is covered through thw Knowledge (arcane) skill, which Druids do not have.

The problem more often then not is power gamers and those seeking to find cheese in the rules... and back to the orginal intent of this thread also how 3rd edition messed up a number of balancing mechanics in its wish to simplify the classes. Because of this Clerics, Druids, and Wizard are now 'tier 1' as it is called around here. Not even Pathfinder has fixed the unbalance.

Scow2
2013-07-11, 01:19 PM
The original Polymorph also put the recipient at a number of disadvantages due to unfamiliarity with the form. And the original Alter Self was a MUCH less cheesy spell.

JonathonWilder
2013-07-11, 01:22 PM
The original Polymorph also put the recipient at a number of disadvantages due to unfamiliarity with the form. And the original Alter Self was a MUCH less cheesy spell.

Yes many spells cost the one casting them making the high level spells have very real game important when it comes to deciding when and if to use them.
... Clerics could be much more interesting in 2nd Edition because of specialty priests.

Gavinfoxx
2013-07-11, 01:23 PM
Knowledge of creatures is a 10+HD of the creature knowledge check.

There are, what, eight knowledge skills?

You can Take 10 on the knowledge roll to know about a creature.

The polymorph and shapechange, etc., are limited by HD.

So yea, it is super super easy at level 2 or so (when collector of stories kicks in), to be able to make all the knowledge checks you will ever need with polymorph, etc.

Urpriest
2013-07-11, 01:25 PM
I have watched and looked through many threads during my time as a roleplayers, and read through many/most of the books for D&D and Pathfinder and one complaint/concern I have come upon is how full spellcasters are so much more powerful. I has seen so many ways people have tried to fix the seeming issues with these classes yet one thing that has never come up is how Clerics, Druids, and Wizards were is 2nd edition.

Given that that comes up in almost every discussion of the balance issues of 3.5, I suggest you ought to read more.

Yes, 2e made it tricky to gain the sort of unbalanced power that is often easier to gain in 3.5. That doesn't make the power any less unbalanced. Making it require intelligence to break the game just means that only intelligent people get to break the game. The game is still broken.

JonathonWilder
2013-07-11, 01:27 PM
Knowledge of creatures is a 10+HD of the creature knowledge check.

There are, what, eight knowledge skills?

You can Take 10 on the knowledge roll to know about a creature.

The polymorph and shapechange, etc., are limited by HD.

So yea, it is super super easy at level 2 or so (when collector of stories kicks in), to be able to make all the knowledge checks you will ever need with polymorph, etc.

Where does it say such? Should it not be up to the DM to decide how high the difficulty of a skill roll? Keep in mind I take familiarity to mean how the creature works not just appearance and the rarer the creature/monster the higher the roll needed.

Zubrowka74
2013-07-11, 01:27 PM
I'm AFB right now but if I recall correctly, in 1e and 2e the cleric leveled faster than the fighter.

This said, PCs had less RAW ways to break the game. Much more of it required DM's decision. The fuzzyness of some mechanics always brought you back to rule 0. With 3.X and beyond, the options are so numerous that even monks and fighters can be optimized into ridiculousness.

Gavinfoxx
2013-07-11, 01:29 PM
Where does it say such? Should it not be up to the DM to decide how high the difficulty of a skill roll? Keep in mind I take familiarity to mean how the creature works not just appearance and the rarer the creature/monster the higher the roll needed.

In the Knowledge skills, in the SRD, PHB, and I believe the Monster Manual. To know that a basic creature, it's 10+HD. To know an extra useful bit, it's that +5. And the rules say what the rules say; to change them is to houserule, which should generally be mentioned to players ahead of time.

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/skills/knowledge.htm

"Check

Answering a question within your field of study has a DC of 10 (for really easy questions), 15 (for basic questions), or 20 to 30 (for really tough questions).

In many cases, you can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities. In general, the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monsterís HD. A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster.

For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information."

SowZ
2013-07-11, 01:30 PM
Knowledge of creatures is a 10+HD of the creature knowledge check.

There are, what, eight knowledge skills?

You can Take 10 on the knowledge roll to know about a creature.

The polymorph and shapechange, etc., are limited by HD.

So yea, it is super super easy at level 2 or so (when collector of stories kicks in), to be able to make all the knowledge checks you will ever need with polymorph, etc.

Or, if you are a wizard, have 1 rank in all knowledge skills and a good Int. Grab some small plus to knowledge items, (MW items should suffice for a while if allowed,) and it will be a while before you need anything else.

JaronK
2013-07-11, 01:31 PM
Where does it say such? Should it not be up to the DM to decide how high the difficulty of a skill roll? Keep in mind I take familiarity to mean how the creature works not just appearance and the rarer the creature/monster the higher the roll needed.

It says that in the knowledge skills section of the PHB. It's not based on rarity by the way, just number of hit dice. Evidently nobody knows much about Great Wyrm Silver Dragons, but everything about Wyrmling Silver Dragons is pretty common knowledge. Go figure. But if you can hit a DC 30 knowledge check, you probably know about all creatures up to 20 HD which is sufficient for most purposes. There's even spells to help with this... a Cleric could cast Guidance of the Avatar for a quick +20 to knowledge if they wanted, for example.

And remember... most of the most insane forms can just be brought in. Want familiarity with a Solar? Gate one in. Now you've got one to talk to. Between knowledge skills, divinations, and summoning/calling, a Wizard really should have no problem knowing all about whatever creature he wants to turn into.

JaronK

Gavinfoxx
2013-07-11, 01:32 PM
Yea, I especially like the masterwork prayer beads of concentration, useful knowledges, forgery, spellcraft, etc.; combine them all into one, and it helps you with feeling calm and concentrating and remembering and such.

JonathonWilder
2013-07-11, 01:33 PM
Given that that comes up in almost every discussion of the balance issues of 3.5, I suggest you ought to read more.

Yes, 2e made it tricky to gain the sort of unbalanced power that is often easier to gain in 3.5. That doesn't make the power any less unbalanced. Making it require intelligence to break the game just means that only intelligent people get to break the game. The game is still broken.

Hmm, perhaps so. I have not read all or even most threads involving the subject but based on what I have read on the rules players often push the rules to get what they want.

Ultimately it is up to both the DM and the players to make sure they game stays fun. If a player find a way to working a rule in a way that unbalances the game or that a DM find concerning he is within his right to say no. Also much unbalance can be said to come from allowing players unlimited access to all books when building their character.

Lastly I leave a quote "The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules."

Deepbluediver
2013-07-11, 01:34 PM
Spells like shapechange never really defined what it took to count as being "familiar" with a creature, so a lot of people simply assume that means anything they want. I had the idea of limiting things like Summon Monster to a single creature per version of the spell known/prepared, but people tended to not like that either.

In literature, wizards tend to gain their power by spending years or decades locked in a tower. But making 347 research rolls doesn't exactly make for exciting gameplay, so version 3.5 tried to drag Merlin, Gandalf, and the rest out of their ivory towers and make them play nice with the characters. Which, of course, didn't really work.


I think the OP correctly identified that the issue is that with some of the power imbalance is having the kind of power that should be limited to a one-in-10 million individual (1 per world, basically) and handing it out like candy. I call this "magic ninja syndrome".

So either you ban people from playing those classes, or your find a way to tone down the power. Because I've rarely seen it make for a fun game for 3/4 of the party to spend the game just toting the tissue-paper cannon from point A to point B. That's the plot of at least half the bad DM-NPC stories I've read.

OracleofWuffing
2013-07-11, 01:35 PM
And remember... most of the most insane forms can just be brought in. Want familiarity with a Solar? Gate one in. Now you've got one to talk to. Between knowledge skills, divinations, and summoning/calling, a Wizard really should have no problem knowing all about whatever creature he wants to turn into.
There's always the old fallback of your character having a Solar nanny because your parents were burned to death by water elementals. :smalltongue:

JonathonWilder
2013-07-11, 01:35 PM
Yea, I especially like the masterwork prayer beads of concentration, useful knowledges, forgery, spellcraft, etc.; combine them all into one, and it helps you with feeling calm and concentrating and remembering and such.

This is what I mean, combining different items and sources to get what they want as fast and easy as possible. Sometimes I wonder if some only character about states and powers and not the roleplaying.

3WhiteFox3
2013-07-11, 01:37 PM
Hmm, perhaps so. I have not read all or even most threads involving the subject but based on what I have read on the rules players often push the rules to get what they want.

Ultimately it is up to both the DM and the players to make sure they game stays fun. If a player find a way to working a rule in a way that unbalances the game or that a DM find concerning he is within his right to say no. Also much unbalance can be said to come from allowing players unlimited access to all books when building their character.

Lastly I leave a quote "The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules."
However, I'd offer a corollary to that quote "Gamemasters should follow the rules unless absolutely necessary or risk drawing the ire of the players"

JonathonWilder
2013-07-11, 01:41 PM
Spells like shapechange never really defined what it took to count as being "familiar" with a creature, so a lot of people simply assume that means anything they want. I had the idea of limiting things like Summon Monster to a single creature per version of the spell known/prepared, but people tended to not like that either.

In literature, wizards tend to gain their power by spending years or decades locked in a tower. But making 347 research rolls doesn't exactly make for exciting gameplay, so version 3.5 tried to drag Merlin, Gandalf, and the rest out of their ivory towers and make them play nice with the characters. Which, of course, didn't really work.


I think the OP correctly identified that the issue is that with some of the power imbalance is having the kind of power that should be limited to a one-in-10 million individual (1 per world, basically) and handing it out like candy. I call this "magic ninja syndrome".

So either you ban people from playing those classes, or your find a way to town down the power. Because I've rarely seen it make for a fund game for 3/4 of the party to spend the game just toting the tissue-paper cannon from point A to point B. That's the plot of at least half the bad DM-NPC stories I've read.

Players have come to feel they can get whatever they want and wish to boost the power of their characters over the overall fun for themselves and everyone else. Smart players can break the game no matter the rules, they will always find something.

Yet this should not be punished instead it needs to be encouraged that players get creative when it comes the roleplaying not finding loopholes in the rules.

Or perhaps full spellcaster gain spells slower, which is why I would encourage players to multiclass or prestige classesthat slow spellcasting and add flavor.

Myself I would, lets say for Pathfinder, play a multiclass between the 3rd party Scholar and a Wizard or play a Bard though I want a storyteller so I wouldn't much care for the musical aspect.

JonathonWilder
2013-07-11, 01:42 PM
However, I'd offer a corollary to that quote "Gamemasters should follow the rules unless absolutely necessary or risk drawing the ire of the players"

Very true, DM should not abuse their power or players will leave. One idea I have is if a DM wants to house rule something wait until a campaign is done or get the agreement of the players.

JaronK
2013-07-11, 01:46 PM
Rules exist for the players, not the GMs. Rules allow a player to know the world enough to say "I solve this situation with these tools at my disposal" as opposed to just sitting there waiting for the GM to tell them which tools will work and which won't this time.

JaronK

Urpriest
2013-07-11, 01:51 PM
Hmm, perhaps so. I have not read all or even most threads involving the subject but based on what I have read on the rules players often push the rules to get what they want.

Ultimately it is up to both the DM and the players to make sure they game stays fun. If a player find a way to working a rule in a way that unbalances the game or that a DM find concerning he is within his right to say no. Also much unbalance can be said to come from allowing players unlimited access to all books when building their character.


All that means is the power of the class is predicated on how much the DM understands the power of the class. The whole point of rules, the whole reason why DMs do indeed need them, is because DMs and players are fallible. With enough people and enough proofreading, you can achieve things that individuals rushed for time cannot. You can make a game that works, that is challenging and engaging and flexible for everybody, which no individual DM could create on their own. That's...why we play D&D.

JonathonWilder
2013-07-11, 01:53 PM
Rules exist for the players, not the GMs. Rules allow a player to know the world enough to say "I solve this situation with these tools at my disposal" as opposed to just sitting there waiting for the GM to tell them which tools will work and which won't this time.

JaronK

That is partly true, as the rules are also for the GM so players don't get out of control. Also apart from the core rulebooks such as the player handbooks a DM can rule a class/prestige class/game mechanic does not fit their game.

The "additional' tools other books give are just that, extra and not apart of the main books. It would be a foolish GM/DM indeed that allows all spells, feats, prestige classes ever made as smart players can and will use these additional options to their advantage.


All that means is the power of the class is predicated on how much the DM understands the power of the class. The whole point of rules, the whole reason why DMs do indeed need them, is because DMs and players are fallible. With enough people and enough proofreading, you can achieve things that individuals rushed for time cannot. You can make a game that works, that is challenging and engaging and flexible for everybody, which no individual DM could create on their own. That's...why we play D&D.

I agree, I admit I would be lost when it comes to running a game without rules. I much prefer structure yet also a game that allows creativity with both players and DMs.

Gavinfoxx
2013-07-11, 02:47 PM
This is what I mean, combining different items and sources to get what they want as fast and easy as possible. Sometimes I wonder if some only character about states and powers and not the roleplaying.

That's one source, the PHB.

Karnith
2013-07-11, 02:58 PM
The "additional' tools other books give are just that, extra and not apart of the main books. It would be a foolish GM/DM indeed that allows all spells, feats, prestige classes ever made as smart players can and will use these additional options to their advantage.
You are aware that a lot of the silliest/most broken material (for spellcasters, anyway) comes from Core, right? Wish, Miracle, Gate, Shapechange, Polymorph, Polymorph Any Object, Alter Self, Simulacrum, Time Stop, Commune, Contact Other Plane, (Greater/Lesser) Planar Binding, Freedom of Movement, Mind Blank, Mordenkainen's Disjunction, Astral Projection, Rope Trick, and Contingency are all in the Player's Handbook, and that's not even counting spells (and other options) that are just too strong, instead of broken.

EDIT: Ninja'd on the sentiment. Also, I allow my players to use pretty much any official source that they want.

DR27
2013-07-11, 04:22 PM
The problem more often then not is power gamers and those seeking to find cheese in the rules... and back to the orginal intent of this thread also how 3rd edition messed up a number of balancing mechanics in its wish to simplify the classes. Because of this Clerics, Druids, and Wizard are now 'tier 1' as it is called around here. Not even Pathfinder has fixed the unbalance.
The notion that the game balance problems within 3.5 lie with "powergamers" is untrue. They are hardwired in, and not a result of individual players intentionally screwing things up.

Take your polymorph example - in fantasy, shapechangers are an iconic image, and it is natural that 3.5 would try to incorporate them. So, here I am, a newbie to 3.5 and decide I want to play a shapechanger of some sort. I decide to take polymorph as my first spell at 4th level - is it my fault that the spell has specifically told me to go looking through the monster manual, grinding combat to a halt, and then gives me the perfect solution to any problem? Am I an annoying powergamer? Or is it that there was a problem with the rules as written?

Now look near the end of 3.5, when the writers realized that a better way would be to make each form require it's own spell with more limited application, level, ect. Do any people actually think Trollshape, Fiendform, Displacer Form, or even Dragonshape and all the similar spells are unbalanced spells? Probably not, because they aren't just simple "I win" buttons. Newbie players can't unwittingly break the game if they are available in place of polymorph-like spells. I don't know that they even tried fixing the other broken core spells, but maybe I am forgetting something.

The point I'm trying to make is that it is totally possible to support the things that characters want to do in a balanced way without some sort of restricting fluff to ward off powergamers as you suggest, but the rules did not do that originally. Just rule zeroing them away or trying to implement a gentlemen's agreement doesn't mean that the problem isn't there. I really like that people have identified this problem, and don't have a problem with attempts to fix it for other like minded groups.

lsfreak
2013-07-11, 04:48 PM
The notion that the game balance problems within 3.5 lie with "powergamers" is untrue. They are hardwired in, and not a result of individual players intentionally screwing things up.

A very good example of this is taking a party that's all the game as it was "meant" to be played (fighter with Weapon Spec, rogue who occasionally gets sneak attack, blaster wizard, healer cleric), and likely how a first-time group will end up playing. Then the wizard randomly decides to try out stinking cloud, and suddenly the wizard realizes they can cripple an entire encounter with one spell. Or realizing greater invisibility is a thing and that it would give the rogue tons more damage. Or a cleric realizing they can take that huge, terrible thing they fought and reanimate it. A druid barely has to try to overshadow a fighter at low level, really all it takes is saying "I want <awesome animal> as a pet and I'm going to turn into one too," which is the entire premise of the class. Pick an awesome animal and it's probably at least as good as the Weapon Spec fighter.

In fact, newbies at the game are probably more prone to breaking things than those who optimize, because those who know the system will also know how to keep themselves in line with the other players.

Deophaun
2013-07-11, 05:01 PM
What was his answer to the potential power level of each class? Well first off he had never intended for Fighters and Wizards to be on the same experience scale, the way he saw it becoming a skilled fighter took a lot less time then becoming a skilled wizard which could take a lifetime. The way the experience scales being setup because of this is that Wizard needed much more experience points to get to level 20.

The reason Clerics, Druids, and Wizards are so powerful is because they are not supposed to level up as quickly as they do in 3.x and Pathfinder.
Except nowadays it is more and more common for groups to throw XP out the window completely: the group levels when the DM says they level. This is because many find it a headache and don't want to deal with it, and some groups might not have regular membership, so it eliminates the XP disparity that would otherwise arise. Bringing back separate XP progressions is probably not desirable.

Doug Lampert
2013-07-11, 05:58 PM
A very good example of this is taking a party that's all the game as it was "meant" to be played (fighter with Weapon Spec, rogue who occasionally gets sneak attack, blaster wizard, healer cleric), and likely how a first-time group will end up playing. Then the wizard randomly decides to try out stinking cloud, and suddenly the wizard realizes they can cripple an entire encounter with one spell. Or realizing greater invisibility is a thing and that it would give the rogue tons more damage. Or a cleric realizing they can take that huge, terrible thing they fought and reanimate it. A druid barely has to try to overshadow a fighter at low level, really all it takes is saying "I want <awesome animal> as a pet and I'm going to turn into one too," which is the entire premise of the class. Pick an awesome animal and it's probably at least as good as the Weapon Spec fighter.

In fact, newbies at the game are probably more prone to breaking things than those who optimize, because those who know the system will also know how to keep themselves in line with the other players.

My favorite example of "breaking the game by accident" is the diplomacy skill.

I want to be a party face type. I read the PHB, I choose bard. I make Cha my best score, 15 say. I take diplomacy and all three things that give a synergy bonus (all bard skills) and skill focus diplomacy and since I'm human persuasive. I also learn languages since I have lots of skill points and the only class in core that can do so cheaply.

I'm use-impared in actual combat (sort of, in a low op party it turns out that the effect of the bard's inspire courage from singing or orating + his own attacks can easily make him responsible for more damage than anyone else).

At level 2 synergy kicks in. My diplomacy bonus is +2 (ability) + 5 (ranks) + 6 synergy + 5 (feats) = +18.

Still no real use in battle, except one day I actually read the skill description (novel I know), and discover that for -10 I can use it in combat, and that actively fighting is a "hostile" attitude while "indiferent" means there's no fight and takes a DC 25 (35 rushed). So I can make an enemy into a non-enemy with a roll of 17, not great. I don't worry about it and never do that.

At level 5 the party wizard can give me a Circlet of Persuasion and I can cast Eagle's Splendor and my Cha went up a point.

+27 to the check, now I can succeed 65% of the time at that hasty check, and I succeed EVERY time if I start talking prior to the fight starting since I can then take 10.

Worse, most things I meet ARE NOT HOSTILE, I can use the longer roll and I face the lower DCs for other conditions, almost everyone I meet will take risks and suffer personal inconvienence to help me.

At this point the game is nearly broken. No real special effort, one core item we can make ourselves so no magic-mart. If the wizard won't make the item I can do it myself at level 6.

A bit more effort and the check gets to levels that give friendly and helpful and the game ends as GODS become my willing helpers, eager to do favors for me.

Snails
2013-07-11, 06:15 PM
Based on reading between the lines about how pre-1980 players played this game, here were some bigger factors:

(1) PCs were retired or semi-retired at Name Level. So how the game scaled in the double-digits hardly mattered.

(2) Stats were leaner, so the difference between d4 and d10 was tremendous. (Your 4th level wizard with 10 HP is standing next to a 5th level fighter with 26 HP.)

(3) Stats were leaner, so wizards did not necessarily gain an optimal array of spells. You rolled to attempt to gain a spell based on your Int, and a 15 Int was considered very good.

(4) Extra spells were not easily available. Creating scrolls was for high level wizards and downright hazardous (a randomly cursed scroll could kill the caster).

(5) The game emphasized combat, so expectations of survival that come with "protagonist" status did not exist.

(6) Because of #5, PCs dropped like flies before they gained a little HP meat on them at 3rd or 4th level.

(7) Because of #2 and #5, a wizard reaching 5th level was a relatively uncommon accomplishment.

(8) "Parties" were larger. 3e emphasizes ~3-5 PCs, because that is the norm now. Look at the sample parties in early 1e modules -- they were 8, 10, 12 PC parties. Because of #7, it was not so important if the one powerful wizard in the 11 PC party kicked ass once or twice per day -- there were plenty of monsters for everyone to kill.

(9) Because 9thish level was "high level", the game's "epic" top shelf rewards were not hoarded by the DM for later levels. Seeing other PCs in the party with a Sword or Sharpness, Vorpal Sword, Holy Sword, intelligent weapon, arrows of slaying, Wish from a genie was not a rare rare thing in single digit play. So the dumb Fighter was not necessarily so completely outclassed by the wizard's physics breaking spells.

navar100
2013-07-11, 06:21 PM
Pathfinder conveniently provides three XP accumulation tracks for leveling. If the disparity of spellcasting and pointy sticks bothers colloquial you enough you can simulate 2E leveling by having pointy stick users use a more forgiving leveling chart than spellcasters. Personal opinion I find fighters using fast track while wizards use slow track to be too much; I'd rather there just be a one track difference: fighter fast/wizard medium or fighter medium/wizard slow.

However, this gets messy if a character multiclasses. 2E multiclassing was gestalt with XP divided among the classes and level each class separately when the time comes. This won't work in 3E/Pathfinder style multiclassing. A make-shift patch is to give the character its own XP accumulation chart by averaging the two charts the individual classes would use. This isn't full satisfaction because usually a player doesn't multiclass 10/10. The character might be gunning for 16/4 or 3/3/prestige class.

upho
2013-07-11, 06:39 PM
The notion that the game balance problems within 3.5 lie with "powergamers" is untrue. They are hardwired in, and not a result of individual players intentionally screwing things up.This. So very true.

You may have some luck balancing things by limiting your group's charoppers/powergamers to tier 4-6 classes (martial) and core only, while your noobs/non-minmaxers have to choose tier 1-2 classes (casters) and may use any official sources. Unfortunately, the most likely outcome is that the charoppers' PCs will totally outclass the other PCs up to approximately lvl 10 and maybe give you a sweet spot of balance during lvl 11-14 before the casters take over the show. That's in addition to the potential problems with communicating why you've put different limitations on different players, and, as DR27 said, the risk of having one of your non-minmaxers stumbling across an "I win"-button and ruining the idea.

IME, if you'd rather avoid having to implement tons of house rules, the only working solution is player "self-regulation". IOW talk to the players, decide on a tier the players should strive to keep their PCs in, and perhaps limit class choices to those in, or close to, that tier (to avoid having to make too many/major house rules). However, this requires experienced players with enough system mastery to be able to identify which components/combos that will or can make their PC OP or UP, plus enough maturity and intelligence to understand that in-party balance is fun for all and improves the game. And although it may be a solution, it still severely limits player choice and really shouldn't be required in the first place, especially not in a game as evolved and thoroughly tested as D&D.

ExampleIn my group's first PF campaign (recently started, currently lvl 4), we've set the target at tier 3. Our party consists of a Crusader (ported from ToB), a Wild Shape Ranger (slightly house ruled for WS access), an Inquisitor and a (vanilla) Summoner. So far, all have about equal ability to shine without being one-trick ponies, and all are in or very close to tier 3. But it has required some work - I helped build the Ranger and I had to optimize the s**t out of PF's Ranger chassis to bring the PC up to par, while I had to give up on several ideas for my Summoner's eidolon to keep it from stepping all over the other PC's toes.

Snails
2013-07-11, 06:47 PM
Then the wizard randomly decides to try out stinking cloud, and suddenly the wizard realizes they can cripple an entire encounter with one spell.

This is a rather strained example.

First of all, this is not a new thing to 3e; so if it is broken in 3e, the game always sucked.

Second of all, at the level the wizard is tossing Stinking Cloud, he is up against things that are going to make a lot of Fort saves. So, yes, he may get lucky on the enemy save rolls, but he could also very easily get unlucky.

The tactical tradeoff is great potential versus the sure thing. If the wizard drops a Stinking Cloud on 3 ogres, he has a good chance of catching one or two. He might get three. He might get zero. Two is pretty darn good, if it happens. But dropping a Fireball on 3 ogres is 99% likely to make them Cleave-meat for the Fighter.

DR27
2013-07-11, 06:59 PM
Pathfinder conveniently provides three XP accumulation tracks for leveling. If the disparity of spellcasting and pointy sticks bothers colloquial you enough you can simulate 2E leveling by having pointy stick users use a more forgiving leveling chart than spellcasters. Personal opinion I find fighters using fast track while wizards use slow track to be too much; I'd rather there just be a one track difference: fighter fast/wizard medium or fighter medium/wizard slow.

However, this gets messy if a character multiclasses. 2E multiclassing was gestalt with XP divided among the classes and level each class separately when the time comes. This won't work in 3E/Pathfinder style multiclassing. A make-shift patch is to give the character its own XP accumulation chart by averaging the two charts the individual classes would use. This isn't full satisfaction because usually a player doesn't multiclass 10/10. The character might be gunning for 16/4 or 3/3/prestige class.
Why go to all that trouble? - it just delays their ascension to godhood without removing the problem. A better way would to be to remove or modify the game-breaking aspects and allow casters to have fun without spells that nullify the existence of the campaign world. I think that's exactly what the writers of late 3.5 were trying to do with the polymorph subschool. It would be harder for the rest, but doesn't mean that they don't need some modification.

Darth Stabber
2013-07-11, 07:32 PM
1) extra attacks and extra hp from constitution was rolled into the things everyone gets, where as these things used to be part of the perks of fighter. That combined with the various limitations associated with wizards in that edition, the greater weakness of divine magic in that edition (only up to 7th level spells, and they generally weren't as good, and they were focused on healing), and you create an environment where fighter can thrive.

2) pathfinder does nothing to address the linear/quadratic problem. They nerf a small few things for casters, and give mundanes some cute little boosts, but ultimately nothing that truely addresses the core concerns. The cleanup of skills and combat manuevers is quite nice, but late 3.5 did far more to address linear/quadratic concerns than paizo has to date. It is infuriating to here people say that pathfinder fixes 3.5, and it's even still annoying when people say it makes any improvement along those lines, it flately does not.

3) 4e does solve those underlying issues, by eliminating everything unique about classes, and making all of the classes get roughly the same thing at the same levels. I HATE 4e with fiery nerdrage, and usually have nothing but scorn and contempt for it, but it actually solves the underlying balance problem (at far too great a cost).

4) Creating a set of houserules to fix the problems of 3.5 is actually fun in and of itself. Keeping the fixes simple is hard part.

upho
2013-07-11, 07:48 PM
Why go to all that trouble? - it just delays their ascension to godhood without removing the problem. A better way would to be to remove or modify the game-breaking aspects and allow casters to have fun without spells that nullify the existence of the campaign world. I think that's exactly what the writers of late 3.5 were trying to do with the polymorph subschool. It would be harder for the rest, but doesn't mean that they don't need some modification.It would also require house ruling HP/lvl, otherwise either the casters would be put back in the 1e "killed before lvl 10"-trap, or the non-casters would only rarely have to worry about taking damage.

But, even though I agree the best and preferable solution is of course to remove/modify the game-breaking aspects, that's one hell of a job, even if we're talking core only. Or is there potentially someone who's already made the 3.5 equivalent of something like "Kirthfinder"? That would be awesome...

BTW, Kirthfinder could be of interest to the OP, as it, among other things, claims to address the caster/martial class imbalance in PF. It probably shows just how much that needs to be changed in order to fix this problem, even though it's somewhat less annoying in PF than in 3.x IMO. Haven't checked it out myself yet, but I've read a lot of good things about it.

TuggyNE
2013-07-11, 08:34 PM
Can someone please write a handbook on "Things 3.x Changed From 2e, Why, and Whether Those Changes Can Be Reversed Without Dropping All Progress"? It would save a lot of nails-on-chalkboard threads like this. (Presumably it would also have sections on the Stormwind Fallacy, the meaning of levels, and a few other things.)

Deophaun
2013-07-11, 08:35 PM
3) 4e does solve those underlying issues, by eliminating everything unique about classes, and making all of the classes get roughly the same thing at the same levels. I HATE 4e with fiery nerdrage, and usually have nothing but scorn and contempt for it, but it actually solves the underlying balance problem (at far too great a cost).

I think post-Essentials, 4e started doing a lot of stuff right in this regard: keeping balance while moving away from AEUD and differentiating the classes. The problem is, by that point WotC had already alienated the 3.5 fanbase, and now they were alienating 4e's fanbase by changing the game and making "4.5." So, they shouted "Next!"

Anyway, O/T.

Deepbluediver
2013-07-11, 08:49 PM
Pathfinder conveniently provides three XP accumulation tracks for leveling. If the disparity of spellcasting and pointy sticks bothers colloquial you enough you can simulate 2E leveling by having pointy stick users use a more forgiving leveling chart than spellcasters. Personal opinion I find fighters using fast track while wizards use slow track to be too much; I'd rather there just be a one track difference: fighter fast/wizard medium or fighter medium/wizard slow.

However, this gets messy if a character multiclasses. 2E multiclassing was gestalt with XP divided among the classes and level each class separately when the time comes. This won't work in 3E/Pathfinder style multiclassing. A make-shift patch is to give the character its own XP accumulation chart by averaging the two charts the individual classes would use. This isn't full satisfaction because usually a player doesn't multiclass 10/10. The character might be gunning for 16/4 or 3/3/prestige class.

Personally, I've never been a fan of the delayed leveling or reduced spell levels as a means of balance; it's a Band-Aid fix at best.

If you delay levels, then the wizard ends up even squishier than normal, so non-optimizers don't play them and the optimizers try and squeeze the bejezus out of every last point and feat, meaning that they still leave a lot of classes in the dust while making the game even more rocket-tag-ish than normal.
If you let them gain the HP and other stuff, but with a bards spell progression for example, then that really just delays the usual problems, and often not by much. They are problematic spells at every level, and the SAD DC's still outpace everything else.

However, if this is the method you want to go, then their is an easier fix than dual/average XP tracks.
Rather than saying "you've gained 2000 XP, now pick a second level", you have players declare what they will be working on next each time they level up. If they pick one of the fast-track classes, then they get normal 100% XP. If they pick Wizard or something similar, then they only earn 65% of normal XP. When they level up to 3 or whatever, they pick the next class level to progress towards.

I prefer doing it that way anyhow, so that rather than having XP penalties for NOT picking a favored class, I can just grant something like a 5% or 10% bonus when they ARE leveling as a favorite class. Even if it all worked out the same, people prefer to think of getting bonuses rather than avoiding penalties, and it's a heck of a lot easier to keep track of for multiclassing.

Darth Stabber
2013-07-11, 09:15 PM
JaronK's lower tier gestalt fix is actually pretty good, I use a modified version and it keeps the disparity down fairly well. I've brought up my version in other threads, but i'll spoiler it for those who are interested.


t5-6 and the lower end of t4 can freely gestalt together (but you must take at least 5 levels of that combo), expert has all skills as class skills, and adept can switch it's caster attribute to any mental. Tier 1-2 must, through multi-classing or partial progression PRCs, lose at least one caster level by 10, and not get 9's until 20. Artificer is banned, as are the spell-to-power and erudite psion ACFs. Polymorph, and POA are banned. Only transmutation and conjuration require giving up two schools for the purposes of specialization, the others require 1. Newbs can ignore the t1-2 restriction (because it's an unnecessary complication for those just starting out).

DR27
2013-07-11, 09:24 PM
But, even though I agree the best and preferable solution is of course to remove/modify the game-breaking aspects, that's one hell of a job, even if we're talking core only.
It is, but I bet it would go over good as a third party supplement or crowd-sourced document - I could imagine making the Planar Binding/Gate, Wish/Miracle spells into rituals (unearthed arcana-esque), eliminating contingency (maybe keep craft contingent spell?), time magic gets severely limited, banning of the polymorph line in favor of the new subschool spells (alter self might need a total rewrite though), etc, etc. Way too much to list, but it would be possible in an environment that acknowledges the issues. Basically, the really broken stuff can be nerfed somewhat, outright banned, or converted into a plot point. Sucks, but that's how it is.

Chambers
2013-07-11, 10:05 PM
What was his answer to the potential power level of each class? Well first off he had never intended for Fighters and Wizards to be on the same experience scale, the way he saw it becoming a skilled fighter took a lot less time then becoming a skilled wizard which could take a lifetime. The way the experience scales being setup because of this is that Wizard needed much more experience points to get to level 20.

The reason Clerics, Druids, and Wizards are so powerful is because they are not supposed to level up as quickly as they do in 3.x and Pathfinder. They are not supposed to have access to higher level spells as quickly as they do. That and there is the general misconception that all additional sourcebooks are free game to use (when a DM can rule out many or even all of them) and even a misunderstanding of some of the spell rules. People have also forgotten that many rules are supposed to be enforced through roleplay.

Not really.

http://i972.photobucket.com/albums/ae206/unnamedhero91/adndxp_zps447f9742.png

A while ago I did an analysis of the XP charts in the 1st Edition PHB and came to the conclusion that the differences among the XP charts meant that if all the characters in the party had the same amount of XP the difference in actual levels would be an average of 1-2. The Thief and Druid were the outliers as they sometimes had a difference of 3 levels. (These conclusions are based on the sample XP numbers below; I didn't evaluate XP totals in the millions)


Difference in current level by classes with a given amount of XP:

4,000xp =
Cerlic 3, Druid 3, Fighter 4, Paladin 2, Ranger 2, Magic 2, Illus 2, Thief 3, Assn 3, Monk 2

60,000xp =
Cleric 7, Druid 8, Fighter 6, Paladin 6, Ranger 6, Magic 7, Illus 7, Thief 7, Assn 7, Monk 6

100,000xp =
Cleric 7, Druid 9, Fighter 7, Paladin 7, Ranger 7, Magic 8, Illus 8, Thief 8, Assn 8, Monk 7

500,000xp =
Cleric 10, Druid 12, Fighter 10, Paladin 9, Ranger 10, Magic 11, Illus 11, Thief 12, Assn 11, Monk 10

800,000xp =
Cleric 11, Druid 13, Fighter 11, Paladin 10, Ranger 11, Magic 12, Illus 12, Thief 13, Assn 13, Monk 11

I don't remember why I stopped the table at Level 18 instead of 20 but look at the XP requirements for a level 18 Fighter and 18 Magic User. The Fighter needs 2.5 million while the Magic User needs a cool 3 million. This can't really be used to argue that "becoming a skilled fighter took a lot less time then becoming a skilled wizard which could take a lifetime" because if you look at the Cleric, he/she only needs 2.25 million to reach 18th level, less than the Fighter. Illusionist? A paltry 1.98 million.

Looking to the beginning of our game for a better understanding of its context is laudable but you should take care to see the data as it is.

CRtwenty
2013-07-11, 10:13 PM
Can someone please write a handbook on "Things 3.x Changed From 2e, Why, and Whether Those Changes Can Be Reversed Without Dropping All Progress"? It would save a lot of nails-on-chalkboard threads like this. (Presumably it would also have sections on the Stormwind Fallacy, the meaning of levels, and a few other things.)

Heh, this is a topic I don't mind discussing multiple times honestly.

Anyway all I have to say on prev eds is the racial restrictions on class and level caps for non humans. Wanted to be an Elf Paladin? Too bad. Wanted to be a level 20 Rogue/Magic User? Not gonna happen (course I never met anybody who actually managed to hit the level cap, but that's a different beast).

The day WotC decided to drop those dumb rules in favor of the anything goes including the kitchen sink mentality of 3rd ed was a great day for all involved.

DR27
2013-07-11, 10:24 PM
The day WotC decided to drop those dumb rules in favor of the anything goes including the kitchen sink mentality of 3rd ed was a great day for all involved.
Great comment - the player freedoms introduced were excellent. While it helped 3.X's following to be around during the early millennium years, I think the player freedom inherent has really helped it stick.

erikun
2013-07-11, 10:40 PM
Based on reading between the lines about how pre-1980 players played this game, here were some bigger factors:

(1) PCs were retired or semi-retired at Name Level. So how the game scaled in the double-digits hardly mattered.
I wouldn't necessarily say that. Things definitely got different once PCs hit 10th level, because at that point they'd start automatically acquiring followers and crafting magical equipment (which gave XP) started becoming available.

However, the biggest situation was that the system was simply different. Casting a spell at a target in 2e could literally have a "save for nothing with 3 or more on d20" for most of your spells. (Compare to 3e, where stat/spell bonuses could make it "save only on 20" or just not require rolling at all.) There were still spells that could "auto-win", but they required a bit more creative thinking to accomplish.

Oh, and Fighter 20 could tear apart nearly anything in just a few rounds with weapons.


(2) Stats were leaner, so the difference between d4 and d10 was tremendous. (Your 4th level wizard with 10 HP is standing next to a 5th level fighter with 26 HP.)

(3) Stats were leaner, so wizards did not necessarily gain an optimal array of spells. You rolled to attempt to gain a spell based on your Int, and a 15 Int was considered very good.
Stat bonuses were leaner, yes. You had no bonus HP for Constitution below 15, and even the highest CON score only gave you +2 HP per level (if you weren't a warrior). Wizards received no bonus spells for Intelligence, ever, meaning situations where your 5th level wizard had enough spell slots to last all day rarely happened.


(4) Extra spells were not easily available. Creating scrolls was for high level wizards and downright hazardous (a randomly cursed scroll could kill the caster).
Creating scrolls wasn't hazardous from what I remember, but using random scrolls could be. For one, I don't recall there being any kind of "identify scroll" ability without serious study of it, which could trigger stuff like Explosive Runes in doing so. Second, lower HP meant that Fireball and related effects - like spell mishaps - were a lot more dangerous. Your 4th level wizard with 10 HP does not want to be hit with 5d6 damage (no save) from miscasting an unknown scroll or reading a trap.


(5) The game emphasized combat, so expectations of survival that come with "protagonist" status did not exist.

(6) Because of #5, PCs dropped like flies before they gained a little HP meat on them at 3rd or 4th level.

(7) Because of #2 and #5, a wizard reaching 5th level was a relatively uncommon accomplishment.
I would not say that "the game emphasized combat." I'd actually say that 3e emphasizes it more. However, 2e did not emphasize necessarily fair combat and a lot of things, combat included, were dangerous to do.

However, in reality this didn't really matter. If the wizard died, then you got a new wizard in the party. Or the party stuck around lower-level areas to help the new wizard level up.


(8) "Parties" were larger. 3e emphasizes ~3-5 PCs, because that is the norm now. Look at the sample parties in early 1e modules -- they were 8, 10, 12 PC parties. Because of #7, it was not so important if the one powerful wizard in the 11 PC party kicked ass once or twice per day -- there were plenty of monsters for everyone to kill.
Parties were the same size in 2e as they were in 3e. It's just that modules were a bit more flexible in 2e, saying something like "increase the number of monsters" if you had a larger party. 2e didn't get shackled with a CR system for "appropriateness" of encounters, which was actually a good idea but not implemented very well.


(9) Because 9thish level was "high level", the game's "epic" top shelf rewards were not hoarded by the DM for later levels. Seeing other PCs in the party with a Sword or Sharpness, Vorpal Sword, Holy Sword, intelligent weapon, arrows of slaying, Wish from a genie was not a rare rare thing in single digit play. So the dumb Fighter was not necessarily so completely outclassed by the wizard's physics breaking spells.
As said before, 9th-10th level features a paradigm shift from small band of mercenaries to local heroes, and the PCs received benefits for it. I suppose you could've given Vorpal swords, Holy swords, and Wishes to your 7th level characters, but that would be a rather Monty Haul campaign in most cases.


Can someone please write a handbook on "Things 3.x Changed From 2e, Why, and Whether Those Changes Can Be Reversed Without Dropping All Progress"? It would save a lot of nails-on-chalkboard threads like this. (Presumably it would also have sections on the Stormwind Fallacy, the meaning of levels, and a few other things.)
We could, but it likely wouldn't be read and would just sink in the forum much like all the threads it is trying to address.

There is also the problem that your question implies theoretical homebrew, which is something that everyone will have different opinions about. :smalltongue:

upho
2013-07-11, 10:41 PM
2) pathfinder does nothing to address the linear/quadratic problem. They nerf a small few things for casters, and give mundanes some cute little boosts, but ultimately nothing that truely addresses the core concerns. The cleanup of skills and combat manuevers is quite nice, but late 3.5 did far more to address linear/quadratic concerns than paizo has to date. It is infuriating to here people say that pathfinder fixes 3.5, and it's even still annoying when people say it makes any improvement along those lines, it flately does not.PF does indeed not fix the core problem, I agree. However, some of the caster nerfs actually have a real and noticeable impact, though not necessarily an impact I like. I think especially the prevalence of high SR (commonplace even on relatively low CR opponents) has shifted the general view of which spells should be on the top-10 list. Unfortunately, it also seems this has made most of the affected spells become either traps for noobs or the cause of inflated spell lists in the eyes of most other people.

Regardless, I think a big problem is that the PF designers seem to have completely missed in which regards non-casters were left behind - they gave the mundane classes damage boosts (in relation to the casters), kept the horrible slot filler "X - Improved X - Greater X" combat feat chains, and then proceeded to remove or nerf the few precious options (like pounce, WS Ranger or the ToB classes) 3.x mundanes had that could allow them to bridge the gap somewhat. As if mundanes not having enough damage potential was the major cause of the D&D caster/mundane class imbalance! :confused:

The mundanes' real problems, such as "putting power to use", "being able to handle many different situations" and "special expertise not being made irrelevant by another class", were pretty much completely overlooked. In addition, I'm personally also saddened only the PF barbarian has been given a few options to make combat less repetitive and brainless, while the other mundane classes' combat job has been even further reduced to "swing weapon to deal damage, repeat until all enemies are dead". PF did clean up combat maneuvers, but they're still UP and useful during too few levels (besides still not offering much in the way of interesting tactical choices, IMO).


3) 4e does solve those underlying issues, by eliminating everything unique about classes, and making all of the classes get roughly the same thing at the same levels. I HATE 4e with fiery nerdrage, and usually have nothing but scorn and contempt for it, but it actually solves the underlying balance problem (at far too great a cost).I think 4e has major drawbacks, and I'm absolutely not looking to start an edition debate or a flame war, but I think 4e actually succeeds with one additional related thing - it manages to create mundane classes that actually play very different in combat and have interesting tactical choices. (That is, at least if using most of the core material - 4e PHB1 kinda sucks in this regard and is very guilty of not offering enough class uniqueness IMO.) The difference in combat style, abilities and tactics between, for example, a mid-level 4e BC Fighter and a same level 4e TWF Ranger is much greater than between any mid-level melee fighter and TWF ranger of any previous edition. The major reason for this is that 4e allows mundane classes to be effective in combat using a large collection of tools besides damage, and typically allows those tools to remain functional and worthy of further investments through all or nearly all levels. In PF/3.x, the mundane tricks such as combat maneuvers typically only work during a few levels, from the moment an expensive combo is in place and until the level most enemies have become virtually immune (often to basically anything a mundane class can do besides damage). I'm definitely not saying the 4e mundanes should be copied into PF/3.x, but I do think a few particular distinct aspects would be great additions and really help with the mundane/caster balance issue.


4) Creating a set of houserules to fix the problems of 3.5 is actually fun in and of itself. Keeping the fixes simple is hard part.Are we about to see the birth of "3.DS"? Please tell me you're actually working on this! :smalltongue:

TuggyNE
2013-07-12, 12:35 AM
We could, but it likely wouldn't be read and would just sink in the forum much like all the threads it is trying to address.

At least it would be something to link to. :smalltongue:


There is also the problem that your question implies theoretical homebrew, which is something that everyone will have different opinions about. :smalltongue:

Hmm, I suppose that's true. However, a discussion of the challenges involved would not go amiss, I think.

JonathonWilder
2013-07-12, 10:59 AM
Another thing that frustrates me with Pathfinder, especially since I like the system a lot, is how they allow wizards access to spells of their opposed schools. How is that supposed to make them any weaker and how does it make any sense? The whole point of specialization is that you give up two schools of magic to become better at another school.

Considering the problems of wizards in D&D 3.x, Pathfinder does not in any way fix the issue apart from changing a few few spells and considering it even gives wizards more spells then before.

Players need to learn to gain one thing they often need to give something else and there is times I feel Pathfinder gives too many options for single characters.

Snails
2013-07-12, 11:31 AM
As said before, 9th-10th level features a paradigm shift from small band of mercenaries to local heroes, and the PCs received benefits for it. I suppose you could've given Vorpal swords, Holy swords, and Wishes to your 7th level characters, but that would be a rather Monty Haul campaign in most cases.

I was not suggesting 7th would necessarily be the level to give the big guns. But rather the DMs did not think "I am saving this until you are 16th level." Either it was a reward allowed in the campaign or not. Once 9th or 10th, you were "high-level" and you were as eligible as you were ever going to be, in the DM's eyes. Whether the DM gave that boon depended on other factors, not because the item was too powerful.

One can easily imagine a large group of 10thish level PCs campaigning against a "lesser god" like Asmodeus or Lolth and eventually prevailing. That was the idea behind G123-D123-Q1, back in early 1e. That is as high level as the game got, out of the box.

So when people say "Man, 3e really does not work well at 15th level", that would be praising with faint damns -- that DMs are even making the attempt is a fantastic success. 1e did not really expect to "work" out of the box at those levels, without lots and lots of DM finagling. Most 1e DMs cared exactly zero about what happened at 15th level.

wumpus
2013-07-12, 12:03 PM
A few more examples of 1e play (earlier posts really do point out most of the differences).

The BIGGIE: The whole idea of RAW makes no sense in 1e. The DM determines what rules he* wants applied. For example, while the xp charts in this thread show that clerics get their first level at 1,500xp in reality only "exceptional players" are allowed even the chance to level at that (and this assumes that 1000 of that xp was from gold looted, converted to gp, and kept for training, not a likely situation). Most players would need thousands of extra xp before they could level (at least for the first few levels. Costs were linear, xp is exponential, so after a few levels the cost is insignificant. Of course, your party gets to decide if they are going to wait for you to train or not (with the DM having a veto where he can simply attack the party sans player). In reality, I have never heard of any DM using the "training and costs of leveling" rules. Players trying gamebreaking stuff would simply find the "rules" suddenly change, making their tactics no longer gamebreaking. My other favorite is the monthly "roll for disease" (more often in swamps and dank dungeons!).

While Mr. Gygax may have balanced the classes around campaign play, this wasn't always the nature of the game. One common style was to play an adventure with rolled up characters and switch DM's after the adventure (as noted above, parties often were larger. Often we brought two characters, largely because the DMs were more than happy to kill characters in these situations). It is quite likely that most of the characters casting 4-5th level spells (8-9th tended to be NPC only) never had to suffer through the "ow, my hit point" levels.

*gender pronoun is specific. Girls/women may have played AD&D, but if so they kept it secret (I think they were seen in 2e, definitely 3e). Not that doing such would have been difficult considering the AD&D playing guys.

Jerthanis
2013-07-12, 12:06 PM
The tactical tradeoff is great potential versus the sure thing. If the wizard drops a Stinking Cloud on 3 ogres, he has a good chance of catching one or two. He might get three. He might get zero. Two is pretty darn good, if it happens. But dropping a Fireball on 3 ogres is 99% likely to make them Cleave-meat for the Fighter.

Yeah, this is the funny thing about my experiences trying to follow Batman and other PO guides...

Me: "Haha, taste Stinking Cloud, jerks!" Them: "We all made our saves and are now retreating under cover of concealment to regroup, buff, and force you to go through your own spell." Allies: "Please dismiss the cloud so we can chase them" Me "Uh... it's not dismissable... guess I'll use Wind Wall to make a passage through it."

Me: "Sleep is 1st level win button, I'm gonna win hardcore!" Them: "Okay, during the 1 round casting time, we scatter or become embroiled in and around your allies in melee" Allies: "Please don't hit us with that spell" Me: "Oh, uh... I guess I can only hit one of them then..." That guy: "Made my save."

The only time I ever ever solved an encounter with a single spell? It was a fireball.

JonathonWilder
2013-07-12, 12:28 PM
The only time I ever ever solved an encounter with a single spell? It was a fireball.

Yet so many try to say or make a single spell a win button, when the only ones such could be argued for is when you get to the highest level spells.

Also, in 2nd edition at least, sleep is a very handy spell... especially when you can cast it on foes that are climbing and can take fall damage.

JonathonWilder
2013-07-12, 12:31 PM
*gender pronoun is specific. Girls/women may have played AD&D, but if so they kept it secret (I think they were seen in 2e, definitely 3e). Not that doing such would have been difficult considering the AD&D playing guys.

Actually my DM's wife and daughter both are very open in their interest in D&D and have played for a number of years. Still trying to get him and the rest of his family into 3.5 edition. His daughter has been enjoying my game the most but his son is having trouble since the party is currently gathering information on where they are (Planescape setting) and he is more fighty.

navar100
2013-07-12, 01:52 PM
This. So very true.

You may have some luck balancing things by limiting your group's charoppers/powergamers to tier 4-6 classes (martial) and core only, while your noobs/non-minmaxers have to choose tier 1-2 classes (casters) and may use any official sources. Unfortunately, the most likely outcome is that the charoppers' PCs will totally outclass the other PCs up to approximately lvl 10 and maybe give you a sweet spot of balance during lvl 11-14 before the casters take over the show. That's in addition to the potential problems with communicating why you've put different limitations on different players, and, as DR27 said, the risk of having one of your non-minmaxers stumbling across an "I win"-button and ruining the idea.

IME, if you'd rather avoid having to implement tons of house rules, the only working solution is player "self-regulation". IOW talk to the players, decide on a tier the players should strive to keep their PCs in, and perhaps limit class choices to those in, or close to, that tier (to avoid having to make too many/major house rules). However, this requires experienced players with enough system mastery to be able to identify which components/combos that will or can make their PC OP or UP, plus enough maturity and intelligence to understand that in-party balance is fun for all and improves the game. And although it may be a solution, it still severely limits player choice and really shouldn't be required in the first place, especially not in a game as evolved and thoroughly tested as D&D.


It is unfair to deny me the option to play a class just because I know the rules better than another player. It is fair to ensure I don't try to win D&D. Saying I can't play a half-elf Oracle who casts Paragon Surge to know every spell in the game using Eldritch Heritage is one thing. Forbidding me from playing an Oracle at all because I'm aware such a trick is possible or because I know to spam Bull's Strength and Shield of Faith on the party warriors before a combat instead of casting Sanctuary on myself then Detect Undead is not the DM's place to determine what I should play and how to play it.

erikun
2013-07-12, 07:02 PM
One can easily imagine a large group of 10thish level PCs campaigning against a "lesser god" like Asmodeus or Lolth and eventually prevailing. That was the idea behind G123-D123-Q1, back in early 1e. That is as high level as the game got, out of the box.
The problem I have with this is that it doesn't really match up with the other examples provided. 11th level characters are, as you pointed out, at the peak of their class. 10th-11th level play in 1e is epic level play, basically. I wouldn't be surprised to see vorpal holy avengers and fighting deities at that point, because that's what's expected with 1e - there's no more levels to improve towards.

Maybe I'm just missing your example.


Yeah, this is the funny thing about my experiences trying to follow Batman and other PO guides...

Me: "Haha, taste Stinking Cloud, jerks!" Them: "We all made our saves and are now retreating under cover of concealment to regroup, buff, and force you to go through your own spell." Allies: "Please dismiss the cloud so we can chase them" Me "Uh... it's not dismissable... guess I'll use Wind Wall to make a passage through it."

Me: "Sleep is 1st level win button, I'm gonna win hardcore!" Them: "Okay, during the 1 round casting time, we scatter or become embroiled in and around your allies in melee" Allies: "Please don't hit us with that spell" Me: "Oh, uh... I guess I can only hit one of them then..." That guy: "Made my save."

The only time I ever ever solved an encounter with a single spell? It was a fireball.
I suppose this was AD&D 1e/2e? Because yeah, that's how things worked. Long casting time and lower average HP (and just different saves) meant that utility spells were frequently mainly useful for utility, such as using Stinking Cloud to fill up a hallway and ensure reinforcements didn't travel through it to flank you. Fireball and Lightning Bolt were excellent at destroying groups of "equal level" opponents, because it could easily take off over half the HP total of even tough targets.

Jerthanis
2013-07-12, 10:46 PM
I suppose this was AD&D 1e/2e? Because yeah, that's how things worked. Long casting time and lower average HP (and just different saves) meant that utility spells were frequently mainly useful for utility, such as using Stinking Cloud to fill up a hallway and ensure reinforcements didn't travel through it to flank you. Fireball and Lightning Bolt were excellent at destroying groups of "equal level" opponents, because it could easily take off over half the HP total of even tough targets.

Nope, it was 3.5. Sleep has a 1 round casting time in 3.5. That means when your initiative hits, without getting to move, you begin casting Sleep. Everyone in the initiative order gets to react, then at the start of your turn you declare the area you affect and people get put to sleep in that area. If the opponents scatter or embroil themselves in melee, or (worst case scenario) manage to lob an arrow at you, you accomplish a whole lot of nothing. Summon spells have the same timing. It was this experience that got me to realize that Color Spray >>>>> Sleep.

In any case though... potentially encounter-ending spells fall down on their face when their targets make their saves. Except Web. And a bunch of others, but many "save-ors" are, from the spellcaster's perspective are, "Fail-to-save-or-I-did-nothing-but-waste-my-time"

And the things I fireballed were mummies, who have a vulnerability to Fire. Would've topped the "damage inflicted in a single round" leaderboards for that game if someone hadn't Psychic Crushed the Tarrasque.

Deepbluediver
2013-07-12, 11:08 PM
Nope, it was 3.5. Sleep has a 1 round casting time in 3.5. That means when your initiative hits, without getting to move, you begin casting Sleep. Everyone in the initiative order gets to react, then at the start of your turn you declare the area you affect and people get put to sleep in that area.

If I'm understanding what you're saying...I've never seen initiative and casting in 3.5 function like that for any group I've played with. Why do people get to react during your turn?

And how does something with a standard-action casting time work then, comparatively?

Scow2
2013-07-12, 11:13 PM
If I'm understanding what you're saying...I've never seen initiative and casting in 3.5 work like that for any group I've played with. Why do people get to react during your turn?

And how does something with a standard-action casting time work for your group, comparatively?Because it's not you're turn when you finish. Sleep has a 1 Round, not Full Round, casting time. You have to start casting, wait for everyone else to go, then your spell finishes casting on your next initiative count. Standard actions are standard actions - they start and finish on your initiative count. Same with Full Round actions. But, 1-Round spells take a full round, initiative count to initiative count, to cast.

The Grue
2013-07-12, 11:37 PM
Knowledge of creatures is a 10+HD of the creature knowledge check.

There are, what, eight knowledge skills?

You can Take 10 on the knowledge roll to know about a creature.

The polymorph and shapechange, etc., are limited by HD.

So yea, it is super super easy at level 2 or so (when collector of stories kicks in), to be able to make all the knowledge checks you will ever need with polymorph, etc.

Knowledge skills didn't exist prior to 3e. After 3e, you can't take 10 while being threatened or distracted (ie in combat), and in Pathfinder you can't take 10 on Knowledge checks at all.

Plus, what JonathonWilder said. "Knowledge of a creature" does not mean intimate familiarity. IIRC DC 10+HD gets "It's called a dragon and the red ones breathe fire". You need to beat a bigger DC to get more information.

Deepbluediver
2013-07-12, 11:39 PM
Because it's not you're turn when you finish. Sleep has a 1 Round, not Full Round, casting time. You have to start casting, wait for everyone else to go, then your spell finishes casting on your next initiative count. Standard actions are standard actions - they start and finish on your initiative count. Same with Full Round actions. But, 1-Round spells take a full round, initiative count to initiative count, to cast.

Huh, guess I've been doing it wrong then. My bad.

DR27
2013-07-13, 02:14 AM
Plus, what JonathonWilder said. "Knowledge of a creature" does not mean intimate familiarity. IIRC DC 10+HD gets "It's called a dragon and the red ones breathe fire". You need to beat a bigger DC to get more information.
Nitpicky, but polymorph doesn't have the "familiarity" clause in the 3.5 PHB. Only shapechange does, polymorph just tells you to open the Monster Manual for info on your new form, while alter self gives you carte blanche to assume any form you want within the spell restrictions without sufficient guidance.

Instead of trying to further complicate the spell line by adding knowledge checks (same problem, but with a skill tax) or requiring convoluted role-play, it might be better to admit that the polymorph line of spells are a complete failure. The reason I felt it worthwhile to nitpick was to point out that late 3.5 gives us a reasonable, balanced replacement with spells like Trollshape, Displacer Form, Dragonshape, etc. Want the flavor to be that your character has been studying a new form? What better way than with a separate, balanced spell?

eggynack
2013-07-13, 03:15 AM
Yeah, this is the funny thing about my experiences trying to follow Batman and other PO guides...

Me: "Haha, taste Stinking Cloud, jerks!" Them: "We all made our saves and are now retreating under cover of concealment to regroup, buff, and force you to go through your own spell." Allies: "Please dismiss the cloud so we can chase them" Me "Uh... it's not dismissable... guess I'll use Wind Wall to make a passage through it."

Me: "Sleep is 1st level win button, I'm gonna win hardcore!" Them: "Okay, during the 1 round casting time, we scatter or become embroiled in and around your allies in melee" Allies: "Please don't hit us with that spell" Me: "Oh, uh... I guess I can only hit one of them then..." That guy: "Made my save."

The only time I ever ever solved an encounter with a single spell? It was a fireball.
Yeah, this is a real problem with save or x spells. Granted, there's a lot to be gained if you optimize your save DC's and attack weak saves, but I prefer my attacks to be a little more always effective. Instead of stinking cloud, go one level higher to solid fog. That locks down most enemy groups, no save, no SR. One level above that, you get freezing fog, which is like solid fog+grease. I don't know why you'd put down a stinking cloud in a situation where the other side is inaccessible to you though. There's tactical ramifications to consider. Instead, consider tossing it into an open field where it would generally be purely advantageous, or in a room where you're at the only exit, which has the same outcome. Stinking cloud hits every round, so if you can keep them in it, they're going to die. Alternatively, if you want low level options, look at something like web. It's obviously a little situational, but in that situation it's a bit of a save and lose deal.

I could go through a bunch of other no save options, but they're pretty obvious. Generally they hang out in the conjuration and transmutation schools, though there are some options outside of that. However, if you think that fireball is the best or only way to solve an encounter with a single spell, you are very much mistaken. Stinking cloud can definitely solve an encounter, and do so a good amount of the time. If you're going to toss out battlefield control spells without considering their ramifications on the battlefield, things aren't going to always go well. Out of every spell group, those are the ones that often require the greatest amount of tactical consideration. You can't just spray and pray.

Anyways, sleep isn't quite as good as it's often made out to be, but it gets tossed around a lot because it's a save or lose at first level. Color spray is generally a better option because it's in a better school, can hit high HD enemies harder, and is a standard action. Sleep can be nice if you plan around it though. It has a pretty great range, which is its real advantage over color spray. If you're not using the range to obviate the one round casting time, you're not using it right. Also, it doesn't look like you can accidentally hit your allies. The area specifies that it's defined by creatures, rather than indiscriminately hitting everything in the burst. I'm not as sure on this one, but it looks like your ally's fears were unfounded.

Scow2
2013-07-13, 07:55 AM
Also, it doesn't look like you can accidentally hit your allies. The area specifies that it's defined by creatures, rather than indiscriminately hitting everything in the burst. I'm not as sure on this one, but it looks like your ally's fears were unfounded.

It's limited by the number of HD of creatures it can effect, but you can't select which ones. You have to choose an area, and it starts checking for monsters with the fewest HD and nearest the center.

eggynack
2013-07-13, 08:32 AM
It's limited by the number of HD of creatures it can effect, but you can't select which ones. You have to choose an area, and it starts checking for monsters with the fewest HD and nearest the center.
Perhaps so. Still, it feels like you could get some good targeting given the small radius of the burst, and the fact that you can have your teammates in the area if they're strong or far enough. Also, it seems utterly crazy to say that sleep is too all over the place, and fireball is therefore the perfect spell for any encounter. The casting time is better, but sleep has a smaller area and is far more discriminating. The goal of the spell really does seem to be killing enemies before they're even in melee range, so that you can win the encounter before it even starts.

DR27
2013-07-13, 09:29 AM
I could go through a bunch of other no save options, but they're pretty obvious. Generally they hang out in the conjuration and transmutation schools, though there are some options outside of that. However, if you think that fireball is the best or only way to solve an encounter with a single spell, you are very much mistaken. Stinking cloud can definitely solve an encounter, and do so a good amount of the time. If you're going to toss out battlefield control spells without considering their ramifications on the battlefield, things aren't going to always go well. Out of every spell group, those are the ones that often require the greatest amount of tactical consideration. You can't just spray and pray.
This, pretty much. I find that most complaints about bfc spells come down to user error. "I can't coordinate with my allies, that would interfere with the roleplaying!" They are situational, and have to be used as such in combination with your allies. If you can target a fireball, then you can target bfc spells.

(And as a side-note, I always thought of sleep as a ambush spell because of the greater than full-round action - color spray is for combat)

JonathonWilder
2013-07-13, 09:50 AM
Nitpicky, but polymorph doesn't have the "familiarity" clause in the 3.5 PHB. Only shapechange does, polymorph just tells you to open the Monster Manual for info on your new form, while alter self gives you carte blanche to assume any form you want within the spell restrictions without sufficient guidance.

Instead of trying to further complicate the spell line by adding knowledge checks (same problem, but with a skill tax) or requiring convoluted role-play, it might be better to admit that the polymorph line of spells are a complete failure. The reason I felt it worthwhile to nitpick was to point out that late 3.5 gives us a reasonable, balanced replacement with spells like Trollshape, Displacer Form, Dragonshape, etc. Want the flavor to be that your character has been studying a new form? What better way than with a separate, balanced spell?

No where does Polymorph say "open Monster Manual", that and it is a general rule to NOT give a player access to a Monster Manual if possible and if you must only the entry asked for.

Also this again: (Player) "I polymorph into an Avariel!" (DM) "What's an AvarielÖ?" PCs don't have perfect knowledge of every monster that might exist in the multiverse, and enforcing that makes Polymorph much more reasonable. Which also means a Knowledge or Intelligence roll is still a good idea as it prevents players trying to abuse spell.
-------------------------

Of any case this thread has gone a bit sidetracked, this should be more on general class balance.

Also on spellcasters lets assume only Player's Handbook spells for the moment and no others.

DR27
2013-07-13, 10:07 AM
No where does Polymorph say "open Monster Manual", that and it is a general run to NOT let a player access to a Monster Manual if possible and if you must only the entry asked for.

The new form may be of the same type as the subject or any of the following types: aberration, animal, dragon, fey, giant, humanoid, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, ooze, plant, or vermin. The assumed form canít have more Hit Dice than your caster level (or the subjectís HD, whichever is lower), to a maximum of 15 HD at 15th level. You canít cause a subject to assume a form smaller than Fine, nor can you cause a subject to assume an incorporeal or gaseous form. The subjectís creature type and subtype (if any) change to match the new form (see the Monster Manual for more information).I don't know how else to interpret that, but whatever - I don't really see any new knowledge/understanding of class balance coming out of this discussion.

JonathonWilder
2013-07-13, 10:18 AM
I don't know how else to interpret that, but whatever - I don't really see any new knowledge/understanding of class balance coming out of this discussion.

Hmm, I will double check this with my Player's Handbook when I get to it later this afternoon. If you are correct I apologize... yet as DM I would require a player have what they want in mind before giving them the Monster Manual, again because I need to limit player connect with the book.

Of any case thankfully my group is not the type that would abuse polymorph, even if you can work the rules to get impossible/unbelievable things. I actually took a quick look at Rich Burlew's thoughts on Polymorph and I will say it seems to at least partly be a problem with entries in the Monster Manual not the spell itself.

Yet such is only possible at all because players look for such abuse ability, for one to memorizing and read each entry in the Monster Manual (which if a player does way from the DM is there thing). From what I read with Rich Burlew's thoughts there does seem to be a long history of players abusing RAW.

Myself I would try and consider things RAI

Grod_The_Giant
2013-07-13, 10:47 AM
From what I read with Rich Burlew's thoughts there does seem to be a long history of players abusing RAW.
My guess is that for every player who abuses RAW, there are ten who stick with RAI. Heck, I've had players who felt like their characters were too powerful, but none who have deliberately build overpowered characters.

wumpus
2013-07-13, 11:51 AM
The only time I ever ever solved an encounter with a single spell? It was a fireball.

I've assumed that wands were quite useful for fireball. The idea was that the times you want a fireball, you want *more fireballs* even more. Even the 5th level wand can dish out the damage if you are willing to use a good chunk of charges for a few turns (I'm also assuming that the extra cost needed to make the DC high enough to miss the save isn't worth it, and just doing minimal damage over and over to an area will be worth it).

Similarly, while a magic missile wand won't compare to a clw wand, it will still take a lowbie wizard a long way assuming he it trying to deplete it against anything with high saves/high AC.


Nope, it was 3.5. Sleep has a 1 round casting time in 3.5. That means when your initiative hits, without getting to move, you begin casting Sleep. Everyone in the initiative order gets to react, then at the start of your turn you declare the area you affect and people get put to sleep in that area. If the opponents scatter or embroil themselves in melee, or (worst case scenario) manage to lob an arrow at you, you accomplish a whole lot of nothing. Summon spells have the same timing. It was this experience that got me to realize that Color Spray >>>>> Sleep.


Scatter would only be the result of casters and anybody capable of making a spellcraft check. Nobody else really knows what you are casting. Lobing an arrow at you, or simply charging at you through the party would be a problem, and I'm sure the dumbest orc has his lessons of "attack the casters first" beaten into him as soon as he is whelped.

This really doesn't change the importance of color spray.

VeisuItaTyhjyys
2013-07-13, 08:07 PM
The difference in combat style, abilities and tactics between, for example, a mid-level 4e BC Fighter and a same level 4e TWF Ranger is much greater than between any mid-level melee fighter and TWF ranger of any previous edition.

While I'd agree with this, I think it's only really meaningful if it's viewed from the perspective of a Mundanes/Casters dialectic; a Fighter and a Ranger in 4e play quite differently but, at least in my experience, a Ranger and a Warlock don't play so differently. I've heard this was improved upon as time went on, but even a few PHBs in, when I last played, Strikers played like Strikers, Leaders played like Leaders, and so on.


Nope, it was 3.5. Sleep has a 1 round casting time in 3.5.

A key part of Batman's arsenal is that criminals DMs are a cowardly and superstitious unobservant and forgetful lot who just let Sleep be a full-round or even standard action to cast. More seriously, though, Sleep is still situationally broken when read properly, and only gets worse/more universally cheap when it's casting time gets cut and it can choose targets and such.

Deepbluediver
2013-07-14, 10:49 AM
My guess is that for every player who abuses RAW, there are ten who stick with RAI. Heck, I've had players who felt like their characters were too powerful, but none who have deliberately build overpowered characters.

I've never been in a game where one or more players actually used all the cheats and exploits the forums dream up, but I've been in games where it was certainly a possibility.

The problem is that some encounters (and not just fights), even so-called "level appropriate" ones, can't be beaten (at least not reliably) without the things that high-tier characters bring to the game. And once you have those kinds of classes in play, then it only takes one tough fight before some one starts to question why you prepared Burning Hands and why some one else is playing a multiclass Monk/Bard, or you get into a non-combat situation and some players make 1 roll the entire session and that's to resist being Charmed, and then the balance between RP and mechanics start to break down.

The problem is two-fold; classes and builds exist that can make for HUGE differences in power and versatility, and secondly its very easy to end up on opposite sides of the scale purely by accident, particularly for new players.


The majority of players are, I think, friendly people who want to have a game that works well and where everyone can contribute meaningfully. I would definitely agree that they outnumber the powergamers. But the built-in rules of D&D can make that very difficult at times.

upho
2013-07-14, 03:52 PM
It is unfair to deny me the option to play a class just because I know the rules better than another player. It is fair to ensure I don't try to win D&D.Well, like I said in the post you were quoting, "That's in addition to the potential problems with communicating why you've put different limitations on different players".


Saying I can't play a half-elf Oracle who casts Paragon Surge to know every spell in the game using Eldritch Heritage is one thing. Forbidding me from playing an Oracle at all because I'm aware such a trick is possible or because I know to spam Bull's Strength and Shield of Faith on the party warriors before a combat instead of casting Sanctuary on myself then Detect Undead is not the DM's place to determine what I should play and how to play it.But the problem with the caster/mundane balance isn't simply the casters having access to a greater number of broken combos, it goes much further and is hardwired into the classes. You'd probably need to redesign every single spell and every class feature of at least every full caster class to bring them in line with the mundane classes. If you prefer party imbalance to not being able to play for example tier 1-2 classes, your DM and group is unlikely to force you to exclude them.


While I'd agree with this, I think it's only really meaningful if it's viewed from the perspective of a Mundanes/Casters dialectic; a Fighter and a Ranger in 4e play quite differently but, at least in my experience, a Ranger and a Warlock don't play so differently. I've heard this was improved upon as time went on, but even a few PHBs in, when I last played, Strikers played like Strikers, Leaders played like Leaders, and so on.Yes, it got better, especially higher up the levels. A 4e mid level fighter (martial defender) plays very different from a same level Swordmage (arcane defender). But I still think your observation has merit, notably the 4e strikers are too similar IMO.

Regardless, the point I was trying to make was that the mundane classes of 4e has access to numerous effective and reliable combat tools (special interrupting attacks, special charge attacks, various movement maneuvers, pushes, slides, knocking prone, multitarget attacks etc) the 3.x/PF versions don't have. Several of these tools could be introduced, without having to resort to AEDU or making mundanes similar to casters, with the added benefit of reducing the caster/mundane imbalance. I think much of this can be made simply by making existing maneuvers more effective.

VeisuItaTyhjyys
2013-07-14, 06:56 PM
I think part of it was the mechanics at the core of the role. It seemed like Defenders had more variety from one class to the next than Leaders and Strikers, especially the latter. I only ever played one kind of controller, so I can't speak to that, but I imagine they'd be pretty different from one class to the next. Again, I gave up right around the PHB III and didn't play too much at higher levels, so take that with the appropriate amount of salt.

That said, I certainly agree with the general point I misinterpreted in my initial response. I think there are plenty of viable ways to make mundane classes play a lot differently from one another without making everything samey or just turning mundane classes into refluffed casters.

Snails
2013-07-15, 03:32 PM
That said, I certainly agree with the general point I misinterpreted in my initial response. I think there are plenty of viable ways to make mundane classes play a lot differently from one another without making everything samey or just turning mundane classes into refluffed casters.

In 3e, I think the main problem is that niche definition/protection was too crude, so that the different Mundane class were pitted directly against each other for every inch of turf (while spellcasters were given access to spells that gave them a free ride, jsut cuz magic is magical).

The classic example would be :
Rogue vs. Fighter = Smartypants vs. Dumbass = Glass jaw vs. bruiser

The class skills themselves adequately define areas of expertise. The armor and weapons and feats/abilities define preferred tactics.

The Fighter can have 6+Int skillpoints without stepping on the Rogue. A Fighter with crossclassed Spot is never going to directly compete with the Rogue or Ranger, he will just be surprised some of the time instead of all the time.

Likewise, the Rogue can have d8 hitpoints without directly competing with the Fighter (well, if heavy armor did not suck, but that is another topic).

Doug Lampert
2013-07-15, 04:00 PM
A few more examples of 1e play (earlier posts really do point out most of the differences).

The BIGGIE: The whole idea of RAW makes no sense in 1e. The DM determines what rules he* wants applied.*gender pronoun is specific. Girls/women may have played AD&D, but if so they kept it secret (I think they were seen in 2e, definitely 3e). Not that doing such would have been difficult considering the AD&D playing guys.

So my Wife's old 1973 whitebox is an optical illusion as are her rulebooks in our library. Wierd.

Endarire
2013-07-15, 04:58 PM
One argument I haven't seem come up is that casters take more effort to micromanage. Having played Baldur's Gate II with a full party (and later restarting with just an Elf Sorceress because buffing a full party took too long), non-casters are, overall, simpler. If this were StarCraft, you could send wave after wave of Fighters (or Zerglings or Hydralisks) at the enemy and not have to manage their every action for maximum effectiveness.

Sure, microing your non-casters, especially when the enemy isn't microing his, helps, but it's the casters (the ones that depend on doing something besides auto-attacking) that require micromanagement to succeed.

This works in StarCraft most the time because each player is expected to manage a large army. This breaks down in D&D (and many tabletop games) because each player is expected to manage 1 unit, maybe 2. Micromanagement isn't as much of a factor: Even if you can't use your character's abilities to his fullest, you usually have a team of people on your side to help you. (And, there's always the Internet!)

The 'casters require special attention rule' also works in StarCraft (at least the original) because most special abilities weren't that devastating. "Nuclear Launch Detected" was a sight to behold (or scramble to stop) and Psionic Storm hurt clumps of massed units, but those units (Ghosts and High Templar, respectively) were expensive to produce and late-game units in Melee mode. In short, they were powerful, but there was a good chance you wouldn't be able to reach that point, and I (at least) needed more than casters to win.

'Casters require special attention' breaks down in D&D because, normally, you get only 1 character at a time to control and you have plenty of time to think. Assuming you prepared your spells ahead of time (or can quickly reference them), you can soon realize that grease is a hindrance to the fight, not just an enemy. (Direct damage hampers those it hits, but battlefield control changes the terrain and thus the fight.)

What's my solution to Linear Warriors/Quadratic Wizards? Make my own system or play 3.5. I've also noticed that, in practice, the disparity isn't that large. The smacky characters get to feel special for being smacky, and the casty characters get to feel special for being casty. We also realize that non-casters should mostly stick to Tome of Battle, and that I'm usually the most reliable source of optimization advice without checking the Internet.

Snails
2013-07-15, 07:18 PM
What's my solution to Linear Warriors/Quadratic Wizards? Make my own system or play 3.5. I've also noticed that, in practice, the disparity isn't that large. The smacky characters get to feel special for being smacky, and the casty characters get to feel special for being casty. We also realize that non-casters should mostly stick to Tome of Battle, and that I'm usually the most reliable source of optimization advice without checking the Internet.

IME "objective" measures of relative power matter quite a bit less to typical players than most every optimizer would guess. What matters more is "limelight time" when the player feels his character is doing something cool. Thus Fightery PCs are still popular enough, over Clerics and Druids.

That the player feels like his PC is a "A+ awesome hero!!!" some of time is really important, even if his "grade point average" is a lot less.

An objective observer might grade this way for a days work:
Fighter: B+, C-, A+, B
Wizard: A-, A-, A-, A-

Does that seem "fair"? Of course not. But a lot players would be perfectly happy playing that Fighter.

Furthermore, even if an objective measure existed it does not matter, because subjectivity rules the day. A player who is happy with his PC notices much less if someone else's PC is overpowered.