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Behold_the_Void
2007-02-12, 01:36 AM
We've heard that game balance more or less falls apart at Epic levels, something I'm more or less fine with. Epic should be pretty hard to calculate, but I think if you know what you're doing it's pretty easy to at least present some kind of a challenge to epic characters.

However, there are some problems that should be addressed. First and foremost, obviously, is that Epic Fighter-classes are more or less crap.

Secondly, several Epic Feats have simply become obsolete because of certain feats becoming even better.

Also, I personally do not like the Epic Attack or Epic saves. I'd prefer that the attack bonus, at least, continues with the same progression as it had with the class. Epic Fighters have enough problems without getting shafted with a Wizard's BAB at Epic. Attacks could still cap with whatever they were before epic was entered, but if AC is assumed to still be scaling at a normal rate, there's no reason to keep Epic attack bonuses so low.

Saves I'm ambivalent about, but I would not have a problem having them continue to progress in the same manner as normal.

So, what I intend to do here is look over the epic feats, change some, and add more in order to make Epic play truly that.

So first off, a look at the existing feats.

Personally, I think that a lot of the feats are pretty much fine. However, certain feats definitely are obsolete by existing non-epic feats, and more feats should be added.

As a note, I'm making this with a concept I'm already working on in mind in which all classes are converted to Tome of Battle maneuver progression. There will be, for example, expanded maneuver-type feats presented eventually.

I'll start with a few of the more glaring pre-existing feats, and will add more in when I have time. Anyone else looking to add feats to this should feel free, the sky's pretty much the limit here.

Bonus Domain

As I recall, there are many non-epic feats and prestige classes that already give this. I'm thinking maybe a feat that gives three extra domain slots each time it's taken, and permitting it to be taken three times to give an extra domain slot for spell levels 1-9.

Combat Archery

I think this kind of feat should really be non-epic. In fact, with the stated requirements the only thing epic about it is the [Epic] descriptor. It's a non-epic feat now.

Distant Shot

This is fine except that one could theoretically shoot the sun. Some clarification might be made, but I'm going to for now leave this as-is and hope that the DM using this is willing to use his or her brain if someone actually tries it.

Epic Fortitude

Clarify that it stacks with Great Fortitude and allow it to be taken multiple times with a stacking effect. Possibly make Great Fortitude as a prerequisite, possibly also with some kind of constitution requirement.

Epic Prowess

An Epic Feat for +1 to attack? Hell no. I'm thinking +3 to attack +3 to damage at least, with the ability to take it multiple times.

Epic Reflexes

Same deal with Epic Fortitude.

Epic Reputation

Debatable. We'll leave as is for now but keep it under consideration.

Epic Skill Focus

Let it stack on the same skill if desired.

Epic Spell Focus

I'm thinking possibly +2 to DC and allow it to stack on the same school.

Epic Spell Penetration

Bonus may be increased to +4 or thereabouts, let it stack on itself.

Epic Toughness

30 hit points is a lot, but may want to make it like a better version of Improved Toughness and have it give +2 hit points per level.

Epic Weapon Focus

With Weapon Supremacy around, this feat makes me cringe. Axe it, I'm thinking of some kind of Epic Weapon Supremacy that would be much more in order.

Epic Weapon Specialization

See Epic Weapon Focus

Epic Will

See Epic Fortitude

Extended Lifespan

I like this in flavor, but I'm considering expanding lifespans inherently for epic characters. May play with this, I just think that Epic characters should naturally become at least somewhat immune to the flow of time.

Great Charisma, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Strength and Wisdom

These feats I'm just not sure about. I'm considering a +2 bonus to an ability score, since it's an epic feat, but you still get +1 every 4 levels. These are under consideration.

Improved Favored Enemy

I'd say +2, as if you'd gained another 5 ranger levels. You're burning an epic feat to do it, and you aren't gaining another favored enemy.

Improved Manyshot

This is interesting, because it implies that you get more attacks with an epic attack bonus that gets higher. I'm not necessarily against this, so if that does happen to be the case, we'll leave it in. Otherwise, it doesn't appear to actually do anything.

Improved Sneak Attack

Under consideration, possibly increase to 2d6.

Improved Spell Resistance

Possibly increase the numerical bonus.

Improved Whirlwind Attack

I'm still not quite sure what this does aside from dropping it down to a standard action, but it doesn't look particularly useful from what I can tell. I say we have this make Whirlwind Attack more useful and allow either a full attack against everyone in range, or one extra attack per time this feat is taken, to a maximum of the attacks one can normally make.

Legendary Climber

I think the PHBII has something in it that's at least somewhat equivalent to this, if not better. If that's the case, axe it. Will verify later.

Legendary Leaper

Leap of the Clouds, a non-epic feat, is better, from what I can tell. Axe it.

Legendary Rider

I'd add some kind of a bonus to ride checks as well, possibly even making this a non-epic feat since it reminds me of Leap of the Clouds.

Multiweapon Rend

I believe this is non-epic now. Possibly make an epic version.

Overwhelming Critical

It sucks. Let's improve the multiplier instead (x2 becomes x3, x3 becomes x4, etc. etc.). No stacking.

Perfect Two-Weapon Fighting

See Improved Manyshot for the basic idea of what would be done here.

Superior Initiative

Possibly make it either keep giving +4 that stacks on itself, or have it give a flat +8 that can only be taken once.

Two-Weapon Rend

See Multi-Weapon Rend

That's it for now, any suggestions/comments are most welcome.

TreesOfDeath
2007-02-24, 04:19 PM
This is an intresting idea, but how do you deal with things like mages being gods (lol time stop or better yet, contionous time stop (a lv 13 spell that freezes time fo r24 hours which lets you prepare and cast it agian)?
Is epic play workable?

The Great Skenardo
2007-02-24, 04:50 PM
It's certainly true that the gulf between Epic Magic and Epic Melee or even Epic Archery is staggering. The real difference, as I see it, is the sheer degree of versiatility granted by Epic Magic. The non-spellcaster gains only the ability to do that which she already does, maybe with a few extra plusses or percentages grafted on, almost as an afterthought.

The change I would like to see is an expansion of what an Epic Fighter or other melee specialist is capable of. We could draw, for example, on some of the traditions of modern anime for some of the capabilities; the capacity to wield gigantic weapons with supreme ease, for example, or the ability to jump with unerring precision from place to place, almost like flight. I would be interested to see something like ToB expanded out to Epic levels, where a specialized fighter or warrior can design a specific maneuver or ability (based off of some sort of guidelines similar to Epic Magic) that is unique to that character.
One imagines an epic Fighter specializing in the use of a greataxe, for example, designing a maneuver that allows him to cut a rift in the fabric of the plane itself, creating temporary portal to a separate Plane. (perhaps banishing an enemy hit by the strike to the plane or whatever)

I think by borrowing the idea of maneuvers from ToB and expanding them to an Epic setting, Fighters and similar could regain some of their uniqueness and awesome from mages.

Note that I'm not attempting to graft anime onto D&D; I'm making the case that an epic warrior might be expected to be capable of doing things of the same calibur that even the least-powerful of characters in settings such as Bleach are capable of.

jlousivy
2007-02-24, 05:54 PM
I agree with Skenardo--- i'd see epic monk being able to punch through brick walls with ease and jump really freakin high, and 'abundant step' should be able to be used more than once/day. As it stands... all they really get is the ability to deflect infinite amounts of arrows with no rolls involved (overpowerd in my opinion).

But really what gets the shaft are archers. A person can get infinite deflection at like lvl 25, yet 1000 lvl 35 archers(specialized in archery out the wazoo with rediculous equipment) full attacking him... not a single one hits
sure feats should be epic, but jeesus

The Glyphstone
2007-02-24, 06:51 PM
This is an intresting idea, but how do you deal with things like mages being gods (lol time stop or better yet, contionous time stop (a lv 13 spell that freezes time fo r24 hours which lets you prepare and cast it agian)?
Is epic play workable?

That specific example's busted by the FAQ...Timestop was ruled to have an "instantaneous" actual duration, that gave 1d4 rounds of apparent time, so no Persistent Timestop. Epic mages don't get overpowered from their 10+ level spell slots.

Full-blown Epic spells, on the other hand....they're the actual issue. And one that needs solving.

The Great Skenardo
2007-02-24, 06:55 PM
I think it's not so much that Epic magic need to be toned down (although that's also probably a quite valid viewpoint), but that anyone who isn't a primary spellcaster gets left behind during epic levels due to Epic magic.

Arceliar
2007-02-24, 08:00 PM
The reason epic attack/save bonuses exist is because d20 functions over that 1-20 spread. If fighters gained 1/level attack and wizards gained 1/2level then a level 100 fighter would have a 100 to their attack bonus, and a level 100 wizard would have 50. That would mean fighters on their last attack in a round could still hit things with a 2 that a wizard needs a natural 20 for.

It's true that wizards don't attack much cause of spells and all, but rogues and clerics would suffer the same fate several levels later.

Don't forget that while all epic characters get save bonuses, spell save DCs only increase with ability score improvements and heighten spell. Were it not for epic magic, the non-casters would eventually gain a significant advantage.

Reducing the rate of bonus feat acquisition for full casters and finding a way to fix epic spellcasting seems the best strategy to me. Though seeing as a DM is supposed to view epic spells and allow/ban/adjust-DC accordingly, even that shouldn't be a problem.

Epic spellcasting almost requires extensive use of rule 0 just to keep things balanced. But ultimately, "DM says no" is supposed to fix any problem. That and extensive alterations on the mitigating factors table.

The Great Skenardo
2007-02-24, 08:21 PM
The reason epic attack/save bonuses exist is because d20 functions over that 1-20 spread. If fighters gained 1/level attack and wizards gained 1/2level then a level 100 fighter would have a 100 to their attack bonus, and a level 100 wizard would have 50. That would mean fighters on their last attack in a round could still hit things with a 2 that a wizard needs a natural 20 for.

It's true that wizards don't attack much cause of spells and all, but rogues and clerics would suffer the same fate several levels later.

Don't forget that while all epic characters get save bonuses, spell save DCs only increase with ability score improvements and heighten spell. Were it not for epic magic, the non-casters would eventually gain a significant advantage.


Could you define "eventually" more explicitly? i.e., level 23? level 30? level 100?

Arceliar
2007-02-24, 08:40 PM
Could you define "eventually" more explicitly? i.e., level 23? level 30? level 100?

Well, epic is intended to be valid for any level between 21 and infinity.

That being said, when the difference between the worst attacker's base attack and the best attacker's base attack equals or exceeds 20 (or 18 technically because of natural 1's and 20's)

However, to determine when a character is actually completely useless with attack rolls (best attack cannot hit something a fighter's worst attack can hit, save for critical miss and natural 20) it's a little more complicated. But not much.

For character's with poor base attacks, it's 70 I believe (their base attack total: 35. Perfect attacker's worst attack's bonus: 55)

For character's with the middle attack bonus, it's 140 (their best attack total: 105, best melee attacker's worst attack: 125).

Same thing happens to save bonuses. Ultimately, giving any class a scaling advantage will break the game because of that 1-20 range the d20 system operates on.

Epic spells can break the game too, but it's much easier for a DM to say "no" to obviously game breaking epic spells than to fix an eventual infinite spread between attack and save bonuses.

Black Mage
2007-02-24, 11:27 PM
I think that BAB should continue to progress in the same manner as it does in non-epic levels. BAB is supposed to represent the characters training with weapons. A fighter devotes his life to his weapon, and trains from the beginning. Does he suddenly stop training when he hits epic? Who cares if the wizard gets stuck with a horrible BAB? If you're swinging a weapon as a wizard, then you're about to die. All wizards need BAB for is touch attacks, and since the majority of touch ACs are low, why does a wizard need a good BAB?

The_Snark
2007-02-24, 11:33 PM
I think that BAB should continue to progress in the same manner as it does in non-epic levels. BAB is supposed to represent the characters training with weapons. A fighter devotes his life to his weapon, and trains from the beginning. Does he suddenly stop training when he hits epic? Who cares if the wizard gets stuck with a horrible BAB? If you're swinging a weapon as a wizard, then you're about to die. All wizards need BAB for is touch attacks, and since the majority of touch ACs are low, why does a wizard need a good BAB?

That's true in the wizard's case. The druid, cleric, and rogue don't have it so easy. Of course, the cleric has Divine Power, which under these circumstances becomes essential, the druid can still wild shape and buff... and the rogue is rendered useless, because traps ran out 30 levels ago and the wizard can use a spell to automatically succeed at any skill check the rogue might want to use, and now it can't contribute in combat. At all.

The save bonuses don't get worse, they get better; suddenly everyone has a good save progression in everything. The BAB slowdown is pretty screwy, I'll admit, but remember that the wizard stops mastering new levels of spells, barring epic feats—and there are epic feats that help the fighter hit things, too.

Don't think of it as the fighter suddenly stopping his training. After a certain point, you just don't get better at things as fast, because you're already very good at them, and epic levels are that point in D&D, apparently.

belboz
2007-02-25, 01:50 AM
Caps on ability to mitigate would go a long way towards solving Epic Spellcasting cheese, no? E.g.:


Only, er, 6 (+you = 7, sounds like a nicely mystic number) others can contribute spell slots, and they must all be present and concentrating for the full casting time. Plus, you only get -1/spell level
Casting time can only be extended up to 1 day (too fatiguing otherwise), and the additional minutes only give you -1
Backlash damage -1/2d6, capped at -HD/2 (round down)
XP burn at 1000 for -1, not 100
So for a 30th level caster with 7 level 18 henchmen/summoned creatures each contributing a 9th-level spell slot for a full day, burning 20000 XP and taking 15d6 damage, maximum mitigation is

(-9) * 6 + (-1) * 10 -2 - 15 - 20 = 101 mitigation

Which isn't going to let you cast DC 500 spells and other such ridiculous stuff.

Behold_the_Void
2007-02-25, 02:33 AM
I've been considering the Epic Spellcasting problem for awhile now. I've been considering making an Epic Maneuver feat (I tend to use Tome of Battle in most of my games for all fighting classes that want it anyway), giving Fighters the ability to make some truly epic abilities. I'm just not quite sure how I could go about it.

Someone else just suggested taking Epic Spellcasting out entirely, but I like the idea of doing it. Mitigation might work wonders though.

Black Mage
2007-02-25, 03:03 AM
Keep epic spellcasting. It just needs some major restrictions.

bosssmiley
2007-02-25, 01:12 PM
You are not alone in your conviction that epic needs reworking.

Upper_Krust has *lots* of interesting thoughts on the matter (starting with epic feats (http://www.immortalshandbook.com/freestuff11.htm) and working through the absurdities of absolute immunities and effects (http://www.immortalshandbook.com/sermon.htm) in Epic, right up to creating a book of epic monsters and now re-writing D&Dg).

A couple of the DiceFreaks have done an interesting, level-based Epic casting system (google for the "Feanmarc Epic Casting System"), as has an ENWorld poster who goes by the nick "Kendrick". These seem to address some of the problems of mitigation and/or ritual abuse that put people off epic magic.

Annarrkkii
2007-02-25, 01:35 PM
Since seeing Tome of Battle and falling heed-over-heels in love with it, I have considered on several occasions discarding the fighter, barbarian, and paladin classes—perhaps even the rogue—in favor of swordsages, warblades, and crusaders, and coming up with an Epic Maneuver system, similar to the spellcasting system.

Szatany
2007-02-25, 01:43 PM
Distant Shot
This is fine except that one could theoretically shoot the sun. Some clarification might be made, but I'm going to for now leave this as-is and hope that the DM using this is willing to use his or her brain if someone actually tries it.How about: you can shoot at first 10 range increaments with no penalty. You can also shoot at any number of next incremenets, with a normal penalty. That way the feat is still nice but not absolute (and thus illogical).


Epic Prowess
An Epic Feat for +1 to attack? Hell no. I'm thinking +3 to attack +3 to damage at least, with the ability to take it multiple times.This seems too much, but +2 on all attack rolls would probably be good.


Epic Skill Focus
Let it stack on the same skill if desired.There is no need for this feat to exist at all, epic uses for skills are wonky anyway.


Epic Weapon Focus
With Weapon Supremacy around, this feat makes me cringe. Axe it, I'm thinking of some kind of Epic Weapon Supremacy that would be much more in order.How about: You gain +4 bonus on attack rolls with all weapons you have weapon focus with.


Epic Weapon Specialization
See Epic Weapon FocusHow about: You gain +6 bonus on damage rolls with all weapons you have weapon specialization with.


Great Charisma, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Strength and WisdomThey're fine.


Overwhelming Critical
It sucks. Let's improve the multiplier instead (x2 becomes x3, x3 becomes x4, etc. etc.). No stacking.Yes it sucks bad. Improving multiplier works, and this could work too: When you deal a critical hit, you deal extra damage equal to your base attack bonus.

TheOOB
2007-03-06, 02:22 AM
One note about distant shot, the only way archers will be useful at insane levels is if they can kill someone before they know that someone wants to kill them. The archers spot check serves as an initial counter balance to the range(if you cant see em you cant target them) and at absolute insane levels the curvature of the earth serves as a limit.

douglas
2007-03-06, 03:53 AM
Truly balancing epic as a system would require basically redoing D&D from scratch. In my opinion, there are two basic principles that absolutely must be adhered to for a system to be balanced when extrapolated indefinitely:

1) No absolutes. There is no such thing as complete immunity to anything. On the flip side, nothing should ever be 100% guaranteed to work if its effect is actually significant.
2) Numbers must follow a predictable pattern, and deviations from the pattern should all, without exception, fall within a small (< 20) range.

I once built an ECL 74 character for a playtest someone ran on these boards (sheet is still in my sig if you want to see it), and that character, the other party members, and the monster being playtested all violated both of the above rules by rather huge margins, and the result was rather absurd.

The number of immunities it is possible to get in D&D turns epic combat into a ridiculous round of poking at each other trying to find something that your opponent is not immune to and hoping that you find a vulnerability first. If a particular kind of attack doesn't work, it should be because you aren't good enough at it, not because your target simply can't be affected by it no matter how good you are. My character was immune to practically everything, including simple damage, which is utterly absurd.

Meanwhile, my attack bonus and all saves were well into the 200's, and my AC was over 300. I had spell resistance 121, almost FIFTY above my ECL, and every ability score was at least 90. Regarding balance, those numbers are not scary. The fact that there is absolutely no way anyone could have reliably guessed them to within the range where a d20 makes a difference before I actually statted them all out is the scary thing here. With current epic rules, one seemingly minor extra bit of optimization can net bonuses in the dozens, particularly with spells and abilities that add an ability score modifier to a roll, making it literally impossible to assign epic opponents appropriate values for AC, attack bonus, etc. with any degree of confidence that it will consistently pose as much of a challenge as it's supposed to.

Basically, a d20 system only works if numbers are usually close enough that the d20 result actually matters, and the higher level you go in D&D, the farther apart the numbers get. Once you're more than a few levels into epic, the potential differences are large enough that everything falls apart.

belboz
2007-03-06, 03:24 PM
Of course, ECL 74 isn't just epic; it's pretty *massively* epic. I can certainly see extending D&D 10 or 20 more levels for some "repeatedly save the multiverse" action, but at ECL 74...I mean, why haven't these people ascended to godhood yet? Or if they have, how do they find time to adventure, between administering their portfolios, intriguing with other gods, giving instructions to their solars/pit fiends/balors and granting high-level divine spells?

I think you're right; D&D is *deeply* essentially broken at ECL 74. But at that level, if players really wanted to keep playing, I'd be almost inclined to turn it into a wargame of "command the heavenly hosts". Hmm. That's an interesting idea...a wargame of celestials vs. infernals. Top-level celestials are more powerful than top-level infernals, but the infernals get cooler mid-level officers...

Or the Blood War. Or Modrons vs. Slaadi, if you want to get really silly...

douglas
2007-03-06, 07:29 PM
Yes, level 74 is a bit extreme, but all those immunities actually took up a relatively minor part of my resources, and most of even that portion was due to paying for caster level 74 on most of the effects that granted them. Most of my money went towards things like multiple +20 equivalent weapons, +12 bonuses to all ability scores, and other such epic bonuses. A pretty large portion of the immunities package I put together is well within the reach of a low epic character's budget. As for the attack bonus and other statistics, the problem of unpredictability is much reduced at low epic but it's still there. By far the biggest culprit is ways to add extra ability score bonuses, and just one extra ability score modifier can easily add +10 or so with very little trouble at epic levels close to 20.

Of course, the most broken thing about epic is epic spellcasting, but I think that's pretty widely accepted around here already. IMO, Epic spellcasting's brokennes comes primarily due to its ability to 1) grant complete immunities; 2) defeat opponents instantly with almost no chance of failure; 3) give numerical bonuses large enough to utterly demolish any chance anyone ever had of predicting what stats a level X character is likely to have. If these three things could be fixed that would go a long way towards balancing the system, but for it to really work well you would also have to fix them throughout the entire system.