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DarkOne7141981
2014-03-17, 09:35 PM
Hi everyone. As a frequent reader of forums regarding PF/3.5 gaming I have read and been convinced of the lack of parity in choices given to different classes. Call it "tier" or "narative power" or whatever, I want to look at re-writing the classes so that they all have options and are reasonably balanced without changing the game system so completely that it is not recognizably the game so many love and enjoy anymore.

With that said, I need a (comprehensive?) list of character concepts for the base classes. This is not meant to exclude the potential for finer shadings from alternate class features, prestige classes, or archetypes later, but is instead meant to cover the big bases well enough for a good starting point. Basically, I want to see if I have covered the literary archetypical characters well enough to continue from there.

Here is what I have so far (deliberately named something other than the PF/3.5 classes wherever I could to avoid too much association with prior balance failures...):

1. Man-at-Arms - Melee Combat Expert
2. Dragoon - Mounted Knight
3. Berserker - Thug or Barbaric Warrior
4. Archer - Ranged Combat Specialist
5. Swashbuckler - Lightly Armored and Agile Duelist
6. Martial Artist - Unarmed and Unarmored Combatant
7. Thief - Cat-Burgler and Pickpocket
8. Investigator - Skilled and Knowledgable Detective
9. Spy - Charismatic and Lucky Trickster
10. Assassin - Unseen Killer
11. Alchemist - Scientist Using Skills to Mimic Magic
12. Priest - Cloistered Divine Spellcaster
13. Ascetic - Mystic Martial Artist
14. Templar - Defender of the Faithful
15. Druid - Shapeshifting Nature Worshipper
16. Prophet - Soothsayer Cursed with Divine Power
17. Sorcerer - Bloodborn Magic User
18. Necromancer - Arcane Spellcaster focused on Undeath, Curses, and Fear
19. Enchanter - Charming Magical Manipulator
20. Warmage - Military Artillery Caster
21. Illusionist - Magician who Specializes in Tricking the Senses
22. Summoner - Summons and Controls Allied Outsiders
23. Elementalist - Caster Schooled in Fire/Wind/Water/Earth/etc...
24. Mage - Knowledgable Magical Generalist
25. Warden - Skilled Martial Outdoorsman
26. Champion - Sword of the Church
27. Spellsword - Interweaves Spell and Blade in Combat
28. Inquisitor - Divine Investigator
29. Minstrel - Musician and Jack-of-All-Trades
30. Archivist - Exorcist and Opponent of the Occult
31. Soulbound - Made a Pact for Great Power

What have I missed? Thank you for your help!

arkangel111
2014-03-17, 09:38 PM
I would think both binders and warlocks could fit on your list. Also I saw no psionic flavored classes at all...

DarkOne7141981
2014-03-17, 09:43 PM
I may look into combining those two class-concepts into one thematically. Good call there.

Regarding psionics...I am alot more iffy on them being completely seperate classes in general than recognizing that their powers come from a different place. I have only minor experience with them (in spite of owning all the 3.5 Psionics books), so I may be wrong on this. The difference in perception of a wizard vs. a psion is exactly what (from a literary perspective)?

arkangel111
2014-03-17, 09:55 PM
Of the psionic classes I have always liked the idea behind the soulknife, though it seems to fail utterly in practice. Other than that one class you could realistically just reflavor a wizard to be a psionic class. though psionics seems to more focus around the actual character (growth, strength, Fast healing) rather than manipulating the laws of physics, but I guess the psion plays more like a blaster mage so, I suppose reflavoring works in the end.

DarkOne7141981
2014-03-17, 10:00 PM
When you think of the soulknife do you conceptualize them as a mystic in the same vein as the "Ascetic" (Mystic Martial Artist)? Or do you feel they stand out in some other way?

Self-growth and striving for perfection does differ philosophically from your stereotypical arcane caster. Let me think on that difference and see if a clear concept presents itself...

NeoSeraphi
2014-03-17, 10:05 PM
You are lacking the arcane diviner, a wizard who studies and peers into crystal balls (nothing like a divine fortune teller who gets sudden and uncontrollable visions).

You are also missing the transmuter, an arcane shapeshifter who can change his enemies into cute animals while doubling the size of his powerhouse warrior and charging into combat as a dragon.

And of course you can't forget the abjurer, a mage who uses force shields to protect his allies from harm, immune to arrows with skin as hard as stone, spending all his actions countering the enemy's spells and dispelling their magic, as well as banishing the enemy's summoned creatures.

And what about the high-noon pistol-wielding compadre who's going to dead eye you as soon as you say 'draw'? Guns are much different than bows or crossbows, guns need their own class separate from archers.

You also need a scholar, someone who is knowledgeable without being magical, and able to aid her allies with her knowledge and understanding of the theory of combat without actually practicing it herself (like a non-musical support).

A scout is also necessary, someone extremely mobile and able to maneuver across difficult terrain quickly and quietly.

DarkOne7141981
2014-03-17, 10:22 PM
In spite of the length of my list I am not intentionally duplicating the entire list of specialist wizards from PF/3.5. Your points have merit, though, so let me try and respond to them.


You are lacking the arcane diviner, a wizard who studies and peers into crystal balls (nothing like a divine fortune teller who gets sudden and uncontrollable visions).

Uncontrollable visions and such suggest a higher power forcing the visions upon the character. While not arcane, I would place this focus on the Prophet in my original list. Divination would still be available to arcane casters, just not to the same degree. That said, I know of next to no literary examples of specialist Diviners, but am open to examples if you have them.


You are also missing the transmuter, an arcane shapeshifter who can change his enemies into cute animals while doubling the size of his powerhouse warrior and charging into combat as a dragon.

The Transmutation school is the most bloated and unfocused school in PF/3.5. Its variety of spells and options create huge issue (balance-wise) IMO. That said, balefully polymorphing enemies is a fantasy staple, empowering your allies is also common, and Maleficent did the dragon thing... Let me think on a better way to do this than an all-in-one option.


And of course you can't forget the abjurer, a mage who uses force shields to protect his allies from harm, immune to arrows with skin as hard as stone, spending all his actions countering the enemy's spells and dispelling their magic, as well as banishing the enemy's summoned creatures.

Defensive magic simply should not be a specialty IMO. It may not be every caster's strength, but it is an entirely reactive specialty at best, which isn't typically the sort of thing that makes a moving character in literature.


And what about the high-noon pistol-wielding compadre who's going to dead eye you as soon as you say 'draw'? Guns are much different than bows or crossbows, guns need their own class separate from archers.

Guns are a difficult subject in the fantasy genre. I would agree with an archetype for the gunslinger within the Archer base class, but I am not sure that they alone require another class. What, specifically, makes them different enough that the character doesn't function like a Ranged Combat Specialist in your mind?


You also need a scholar, someone who is knowledgeable without being magical, and able to aid her allies with her knowledge and understanding of the theory of combat without actually practicing it herself (like a non-musical support).

I have no idea of an example of this in either the PF/3.5 game or literature. Can you give me an idea from whom this concept is coming? You don't liken this to a Marshall, do you?


A scout is also necessary, someone extremely mobile and able to maneuver across difficult terrain quickly and quietly.

I would place this squarely in the domain of the Warden, as a Skilled Martial Outdoorsman.
------------------------

Thanks for your help, I look forward to more input!

NeoSeraphi
2014-03-17, 10:41 PM
Uncontrollable visions and such suggest a higher power forcing the visions upon the character.


I think you misread my grammar. I was saying that was what I expected from the divine prophet. I did not expect the divine prophet to be using crystal balls and intentionally scrying on others.



While not arcane, I would place this focus on the Prophet in my original list. Divination would still be available to arcane casters, just not to the same degree. That said, I know of next to no literary examples of specialist Diviners, but am open to examples if you have them.


I concede your point here.



The Transmutation school is the most bloated and unfocused school in PF/3.5. Its variety of spells and options create huge issue (balance-wise) IMO. That said, balefully polymorphing enemies is a fantasy staple, empowering your allies is also common, and Maleficent did the dragon thing... Let me think on a better way to do this than an all-in-one option.


Beyond that, there is also flight (very common), water walking (very common), transforming into a small animal for stealth and travel purposes (very common), and animate rope, which no one wants to see go.



I have no idea of an example of this in either the PF/3.5 game or literature. Can you give me an idea from whom this concept is coming? You don't liken this to a Marshall, do you?


The idea of a scholar is obvious, I was suggesting class features such as that to help beef up the class entirely, but you shouldn't just leave your players with no way to have an intelligent person in the group unless he's a mage. The idea of bards knowing everything is a strange one, and while bards can certainly pick up some information on the road, that should be part of the character's backstory rather than a 'feature' of the class. The scholar should be its own, unique class and completely non-magical, like a European monk.



I would place this squarely in the domain of the Warden, as a Skilled Martial Outdoorsman.


Terrible, terrible idea. By "martial" I am assuming you mean "full BAB", which is not a class that can be balanced while also receiving the amount of passive move speed a scout class would need (at least +30' move speed, probably closer to +50'), along with free Mobility, possibly free Spring Attack, Hide in Plain Sight and Camoflauge, the ability to make withdraw actions as move actions, a bonus to Acrobatics for escaping and tumbling through enemies, possibly an animal companion or familiar that exists solely to send messages to the scout's allies, a huge bonus to Perception checks, maybe some free senses like tremorsense and scent, etc.

DarkOne7141981
2014-03-17, 11:04 PM
I think you misread my grammar. I was saying that was what I expected from the divine prophet. I did not expect the divine prophet to be using crystal balls and intentionally scrying on others.

I did misread your point, sorry for that.


Beyond that, there is also flight (very common), water walking (very common), transforming into a small animal for stealth and travel purposes (very common), and animate rope, which no one wants to see go.

I am not talking about removing the spells, nor the opportunity to use magic to change stuff, just saying that a whole class based on that seems unfocused at best, and unbalanced at worst. Which of those ideas lends itself to a specific class, and why wouldn't many of them be available to any arcane caster if they wanted them? (Also, is water walking and animating rope really that big a deal to you? It isn't written in blue so I assume you are not being sarcastic...)


The idea of a scholar is obvious, I was suggesting class features such as that to help beef up the class entirely, but you shouldn't just leave your players with no way to have an intelligent person in the group unless he's a mage. The idea of bards knowing everything is a strange one, and while bards can certainly pick up some information on the road, that should be part of the character's backstory rather than a 'feature' of the class. The scholar should be its own, unique class and completely non-magical, like a European monk.

You didn't give a specific example of this type of character. Is there a European monk that did this kind of thing in a story somewhere?

Intelligence should certainly be encouraged, and Knowledge skills are useful in general with a DM who seperates IC and OoC knowledge. What more are you saying needs to be there? I don't think rolling Knowledge Checks to Aid Others in combat sounds that fun to me...


Terrible, terrible idea. By "martial" I am assuming you mean "full BAB", which is not a class that can be balanced while also receiving the amount of passive move speed a scout class would need (at least +30' move speed, probably closer to +50'), along with free Mobility, possibly free Spring Attack, Hide in Plain Sight and Camoflauge, the ability to make withdraw actions as move actions, a bonus to Acrobatics for escaping and tumbling through enemies, possibly an animal companion or familiar that exists solely to send messages to the scout's allies, a huge bonus to Perception checks, maybe some free senses like tremorsense and scent, etc.

Ok, full BAB and faster movement speed is a hallmark of the Barbarian, though not to that degree. Likewise, the Monk gets faster movement and is generally considered weak due to its lack of full BAB. In addition Mobility and Spring Attack are feats available to all (and not that hard to get as a Ranger). The Ranger gets Hide in Plain Sight already.

Basically you described a Ranger but said full BAB was a bad idea due to faster movement speed...I don't follow your thinking here at all. (Warden = re-design of the Ranger's role)

NeoSeraphi
2014-03-17, 11:36 PM
I am not talking about removing the spells, nor the opportunity to use magic to change stuff, just saying that a whole class based on that seems unfocused at best, and unbalanced at worst. Which of those ideas lends itself to a specific class, and why wouldn't many of them be available to any arcane caster if they wanted them? (Also, is water walking and animating rope really that big a deal to you? It isn't written in blue so I assume you are not being sarcastic...)


I mean, why wouldn't you want a transmuter as its own class? Transmuters are basically what alchemists wish they could be, they use their magic to change things into other things. You have a class that is based around changing objects into other objects, (a mundane alchemist) but no class about changing people and self into other people and self? An arcane transmuter would be a shapeshifter, similar to Morgan or her mother in Dragon Age. And animate rope is just a cheese spell. Also, if you're going to make illusions its own class, and illusions are the most repetitive and tiny school available, you should have a transmuter.



Ok, full BAB and faster movement speed is a hallmark of the Barbarian, though not to that degree. Likewise, the Monk gets faster movement and is generally considered weak due to its lack of full BAB. In addition Mobility and Spring Attack are feats available to all (and not that hard to get as a Ranger). The Ranger gets Hide in Plain Sight already.

Basically you described a Ranger but said full BAB was a bad idea due to faster movement speed...I don't follow your thinking here at all. (Warden = re-design of the Ranger's role)

I am describing a scout. There is an actual scout class in 3.5 (it's in Complete Adventurer). The scout concept is a combination of a rogue and a ranger, it's an extremely mobile class that is capable of delivering light damage but is mostly good at moving around undetected, undeterred, and escaping.

You need monk-like mobility, rogue-like skill points, a few of the ranger's abilities, but mostly what you need is the ability to move around any terrain unimpeded, communicate with your allies across long distances without magic, stealth and perception, maybe survival, low hit points and low armor (this is another reason ranger won't work, too tough and too armored).

A scout is essentially a mundane diviner. Someone who can pick up all the information for the party a great distance ahead of the party without detection and then convey it back to them. The scout can have Sneak Attack and thrive in the surprise round, but he's different enough from a thief or spy to be lumped in with either of them, he's not an unarmed or unarmored mystic kung fu guy so he's not a monk, and he's too fast to be a ranger and be balanced.

Oh, right, you like literary references, right? A scout would be someone like Hermes, or Legolas. Information on the enemy, scouting ahead, especially outdoors, is crucial to avoid and to set up ambushes, and as outdoorsy as the ranger is, he doesn't have high move speed, he doesn't have a good incentive to be Small or smaller, he doesn't have incentive to leave the party (as he is actually a strong combatant and could assist the party if they were attacked, the DM would also feel bad about attacking the party if the ranger leaves it while if the rogue or monk leaves its no big deal).

Vadskye
2014-03-17, 11:51 PM
The problem with defining a "transmuter" is that Transmutation is a hodgepodge of separate abilities. If you could split Transmutation into separate categories, you could decide which categories you want to embody in the transmuter; I think it could support at least two distinct concepts. To that end, I suggest the following divisions (which can be considered separate subschools):
Animation: An animation spell grants temporary "life'' to an affected object. Animate Objects and Entangle are animation spells.
Alteration: An alteration spell changes the physical shape or state of anything with a material form. Disintegrate and Stone Shape are alteration spells.
Augment: An augment spell enhances the existing physical or mental abilities of an object or creature. Bull's Strength and Magic Weapon are augment spells.
Imbuement: An imbuement spell infuses an object or creature with magic, granting it new abilities. Fly and Spider Climb are imbuement spells.
Polymorph: A polymorph spell changes a creature's body into a new form. Enlarge Person and Polymorph are polymorph spells.
Temporal: A temporal spell manipulates time itself, speeding or slowing its passage for the subject. Haste and Slow are temporal spells.

It's not obvious that a character specializing in form-changing abilities (Alteration, Polymorph) would necessarily be any good at some other uses of Transmutation (Animation, Temporal). You can divide it into separate concepts as you choose, but "transmuter" is not a coherent concept on its own.

DarkOne7141981
2014-03-18, 12:01 AM
I wouldn't want a Transmuter class because they are too general and too powerful. If it is what every other class wish they were then it is too much to be balanced. The Mage class would have access to all those options, though at a lower power level than a specialist, hopefully making balance possible.

I recognized the Scout class when you described it. The fact is that in a practical sense the Scout and the Ranger filled the same niche, only they both had weaknesses that made them less capable than other classes (like the Druid for example) that could (with Wild Shape, an animal companion, spells...) outperform them both.

Both had alot of skill points, tracking options, stealth options, etc... One could deal consistent damage and later got spells to help them keep up (Ranger), one was burdened with an inferior damage source (Skirmish) and no spells that made them incapable of really contributing at later levels. I don't see the issue with suggesting that Warden fill the niche they both held as a problem, particularly as even with spells the Ranger was considered Tier 4 most of the time (my intent is Tier 3 for each class).

DarkOne7141981
2014-03-18, 12:03 AM
Vadskye said it well. I am going to consider specialized classes for Transmutation-oriented magic, but I certainly won't end up taking all of that school as a lump sum.

On a different subject, any chance of an update on your spell system, Vadskye? I am still subscribed to that thread and hopeful for more!

Vadskye
2014-03-18, 12:10 AM
On a different subject, any chance of an update on your spell system, Vadskye? I am still subscribed to that thread and hopeful for more!
I actually finished the revision of the Spell Reformation to make it more 3.5 friendly! However, I made the mistake of putting it in a new thread, which no one read. (It's what my sig is currently pointing to.)

Tell ya what... I'll update the original thread with the complete content from the revision, then post something saying that it's been updated.

NeoSeraphi
2014-03-18, 12:29 AM
Both had alot of skill points, tracking options, stealth options, etc... One could deal consistent damage and later got spells to help them keep up (Ranger), one was burdened with an inferior damage source (Skirmish) and no spells that made them incapable of really contributing at later levels. I don't see the issue with suggesting that Warden fill the niche they both held as a problem, particularly as even with spells the Ranger was considered Tier 4 most of the time (my intent is Tier 3 for each class).

A scout needs: Survival, Perception, Stealth, Knowledge (Geography), Knowledge (Nature), Climb, Acrobatics, Swim, if you're using PF skills. That's 8 skills, and I'm not counting "decent" skills that may be useful for a scout like Bluff, Diplomacy, Sense Motive, and Escape Artist. If your Warden is using PF skills, he'd need at least 12 Int and to be human, or 14 Int and another race, to be effective, and an even higher Intelligence to give himself a character-specific skill or two.

If you're using 3.5 skills, a scout needs Survival, Spot, Listen, Knowledge (Geography), Knowledge (Nature), Climb, Jump, Balance, Swim, and Use Rope. That's 10 skills, with no room for individual flavor skills. The ranger gets 6+Int per level. If you're using 3.5 skills, your Warden would either have to be woefully inept at combat or horrible at scouting, you can't just give a full BAB class 8+int skill points.

See the problem here? Scouting is all about skill checks, and a combat class just doesn't get enough skill points. I'm expecting your Warden to have 6+Int skill points, and for him to be using Handle Animal, Ride, and Heal (since he's not getting spellcasting and you need Heal to fill the herb-using style) as well as those listed above. So yeah, you need a scout. Skill points aside, the ranger class is heavily reliant on its medium armor (even worse mobility) and without any spellcasting (hello longstrider) you'll be even worse off than a normal ranger. Not to mention, there are plenty of forms of difficult terrain (corpses, rocks, boulders, items in urban areas, riggings on ships, etc) that a nature-based class would not be able to ignore but that a scout (who is not tied to nature at all) could easily justify with a simple "You ignore all difficult terrain" class feature.

DarkOne7141981
2014-03-18, 10:32 AM
You are making a lot of assumptions I haven't both regarding balance and what is going in the Warden's package (they will probably get spells, for example). I for one do not think that 8+Int skill points prohibits full BAB, for example. Skills used out of combat are unrelated to combat prowess, and the whole point of re-balancing classes is to improve the options available for a given niche. Full BAB doesn't matter outside of combat at all, so when considering things like scouting, bluffing, etc...it is irrelevant what a class's BAB is, IMO.

I really appreciate your input, I think we are likely to disagree on the balancing points of my proposed Warden class, which is fine since this is a home brew. Thank you for being part of the discussion.

Any responses to the other class/niche points you and I were discussing?

Aergoth
2014-03-18, 10:45 AM
Regarding the previous conversation on a 'Scholar' like class, a couple of fictional examples for you.

Giles- Buffy the Vampire Slayer- Assists the scooby gang by providing information gained through research into musty tomes.

Abraham Van Helsing- Dracula (Bram Stoker)- Well-learned (based on his correspondance) and capable of recognizing the influence of a vampire.

Bobby Singer- Supernatural- Provides the Winchesters with knowledge that they generally need to be able to successfully dispatch a monster. In addition the brothers have made heavy use of their father's journal, a sort of commonplace/little black book of every pertinent bit of monster lore that he'd ever dealt with.

Sherlock Holmes- Adventures of Sherlock Holmes- Despite begin a great detective Sherlock's deductive (really inductive), skills are worthless without the massive base of knowledge he has to draw on. He consults books and encyclopedias to confirm his facts and makes his conclusions based on the facts he possesses.

Indiana Jones- Raiders of the Lost Ark et al.- Indiana Jones is a poster boy for adventuring scholar type characters. There's already an Archeologist archetype for the bard seemingly based on him. But let's not forget he is Doctor Jones. He teaches college courses. He is a scholar, when he isn't an adventuring knight-errant with a doctorate. His ability to decode written clues and knowledge of ancient cultures is crucial to his survival and success.

This all follows a long tradition of heroes requiring the help of people with more smarts (generally of the book variety) in order to dispatch monsters with esoteric weaknesses. We can date this back to figures like Perseus (where would he be without the coaching telling him to polish his shield to mirror's brightness?) Who would be able to defeat Talos the bronze giant without knowing about his weakness, the plug in his heel?

I'm actually working on a base class based on this right now if you'd care to take a look when it's done.

DarkOne7141981
2014-03-18, 12:10 PM
I will be happy to look, though I am not sure how generally having significant ranks in knowledge is any different from most of what you have described for most of those examples...

In particular, three of them (Van Helsing, Holmes, and Indiana Jones) are two something of adventurers already and would fit niches I already have described (Archivist and Investigator). Jones might be a bit tougher to place, though the Bard-Archeologist archetype is a great example of just one way to do it. Do they really need "scholar" classes to better describe what they do in adventures?

Aergoth
2014-03-18, 01:14 PM
It's going to be an eclectic mix. By my present interpretation the Archivist is actually a subtype of the Scholar. Fighting the occult with your knowledge is just application of having that knowledge in the first place.

DarkOne7141981
2014-03-19, 06:13 PM
So far it seems that the missing niches are/might-be:

Perfectionist Psionic Combatant
Sagely Non-Combatant Support

If that is all anyone thinks I am missing still, I feel pretty good. I am still not sure how to make those both work as character classes, but I can leave that till a bit later and get to them after they have had time to ruminate in my brain a while.

Any other niches still missing? Thanks for the help!

Vadskye
2014-03-19, 09:43 PM
Please, please, please don't make each of these niches a separate class. These niches are a wonderful resource to keep in mind when designing classes, but they are character concepts, not classes.

DarkOne7141981
2014-03-19, 10:21 PM
With the plethora of base classes and PrCs out there it is something I had considered, but ultimately it probably won't happen that way.

I am much more inclined to brainstorm and conceptualize a given class with the idea that it be capable of fulfilling several of these niches than to suggest that each niche get its own complete class write-up.