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nonsi
2017-12-15, 09:47 AM
.
This is an experiment for testing to what extent one could make a relatively mundane class a tough cookie to crack.
I'm not even sure it's T3, but it seems quite tough to me.

The class is not fully fleshed out and I guess some of the class abilities could use a better name, but it's just an experiment for now, so maybe I'll get to that later on.



So... is this class reasonable, or OP ?




Ironheart Zealot

Alignment: Any dual extreme (CE/CG/LE/LG)

Hit Dice: D12

Table: The Ironheart Zealot


Level
BAB
F
R
W
Special


1st
+1
+2
+2
+2
Combat Focus* (PH2), Steely Resolve + Furious Counterstrike (see the Crusader class)


2nd
+2
+3
+3
+3
Endurance*, Mettle


3rd
+3
+3
+3
+3
Combat Stability* (PH2), Uncanny Dodge


4th
+4
+4
+4
+4
Evasion, Ironheart Strike (magic)


5th
+5
+4
+4
+4
Armor Mastery (medium), Counter Size Benefits (-2 / size diff.)


6th
+6
+5
+5
+5
Combat Defense* (PH2 Dodge included), Zealous Tenacity (Con-bonus to all saves)


7th
+7
+5
+5
+5
Diehard*, Impetuous Endurance (see the Knight class)


8th
+8
+6
+6
+6
Improved Mettle, Ironheart Strike (alignment - dual)


9th
+9
+6
+6
+6
Combat Vigor* (PH2), Improved Combat Focus (https://dnd-wiki.org/wiki/Improved_Combat_Focus_(3.5e_Feat))*


10th
+10
+7
+7
+7
Improved Uncanny Dodge, Spellshatter (targeted Dispel Magic 1 / day per 4 levels)


11th
+11
+7
+7
+7
SR (12 +HD), Fearless


12th
+12
+8
+8
+8
Combat Awareness* (PH2), Ironheart Strike (Ghost Touch)


13th
+13
+8
+8
+8
Improved Evasion


14th
+14
+9
+9
+9
Death Ward (Su) (always active)


15th
+15
+9
+9
+9
Freedom of Movement (Su) (always active), Combat Strike* (PH2)


16th
+16
+10
+10
+10
Ironheart Strike (metallic: silver / cold iron / adamantine)


17th
+17
+10
+10
+10
Greater Combat Focus (https://dnd-wiki.org/wiki/Greater_Combat_Focus_(3.5e_Feat))*


18th
+18
+11
+11
+11
Mind Blank


19th
+19
+11
+11
+11
Eternal Zealot (stops aging. Previous penalties persist)


20th
+20
+12
+12
+12
Ironheart Strike (epic)



* an Ironheart Zealot doesn't need to meet the feat's requirements.



Class Skills: Balance, Climb, Craft, Escape Artist, Heal (PF version), Intimidate, Jump, Listen, Profession, Sense Motive, Spot, Survival, Swim and Tumble
Skill Points per Level: 4 + Int-mod

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Ironheart zealots are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, light armor, medium armor, and shields (except tower shields).

khadgar567
2017-12-15, 01:07 PM
from derogatory comment to dnd wiki worthy class nuff said optimizers

PairO'Dice Lost
2017-12-15, 03:50 PM
The class is only particularly powerful from a multiclassing standpoint, and even then only at low levels; the Crusader's signature ability, a bonus feat, and Mettle in just two levels makes it one of the better two-level dips in the game. Most of the later defensive benefits are on the weaker side either for their level (like getting freedom of movement at 15th, when it's been both available and needed against massive grapplers since 7th) or in general (like SR 12+level, which is slightly underwhelming at all levels).

Other than that, while it certainly has a lot of defenses, it doesn't really do anything. All of its offensive capabilities can basically be duplicated by giving a Commoner 20 a +5 ghost touch shadow-striking dispelling longsword, so if an enemy says "Huh, I can't really hurt that guy, I guess I'll go beat up the rest of his party instead" there's nothing this class can do about it, which is both a major weakness from a party perspective and very boring for the player. Even purely defensive healers can be interesting to play (between resource management, prioritizing who to heal, making sure to have an answer for lots of different kinds of harm, and such) but this class doesn't have anything more complex than "How much was I hit for last turn?" and "Am I still in combat focus?"

To make this class actually useful and interesting to play, you'll want to do two things:

1) Condense the class abilities by a lot, so that it can get all the stuff it needs in fewer levels and be turned into a PrC or something and/or so that you can give it some offensive abilities (or at least more interesting defensive and utility abilities) in the levels freed up. You don't really need Improved Mettle and SR and a bunch of immunities and very high saves that you don't fail on a 1, for instance, because that's four different ways to do the same thing: you can avoid dying from a finger of death by always downgrading death to damage, by having SR protect you, by being immune to [Death] effects, or by always making the save, and the end result of all four cases is the same, just HP damage (which your d12 HD and Con take care of).

2) Give it more reasons for enemies to care about it. This can take the form of being able to protect teammates (extend protections to the whole party, take debuffs in place of teammates, etc.) so they can't just ignore it without being hampered in attacking the rest of the party, or ways to turn enemy powers on their users so for instance enemies' alpha strikes bounce back at them or this class can jump into AoEs and such to turn spells back on them or the like, and similar abilities that ensure people playing this class don't just stand there not contributing.

nonsi
2017-12-17, 11:07 AM
The class is only particularly powerful from a multiclassing standpoint, and even then only at low levels; the Crusader's signature ability, a bonus feat, and Mettle in just two levels makes it one of the better two-level dips in the game. Most of the later defensive benefits are on the weaker side either for their level (like getting freedom of movement at 15th, when it's been both available and needed against massive grapplers since 7th) or in general (like SR 12+level, which is slightly underwhelming at all levels).

Other than that, while it certainly has a lot of defenses, it doesn't really do anything. All of its offensive capabilities can basically be duplicated by giving a Commoner 20 a +5 ghost touch shadow-striking dispelling longsword, so if an enemy says "Huh, I can't really hurt that guy, I guess I'll go beat up the rest of his party instead" there's nothing this class can do about it, which is both a major weakness from a party perspective and very boring for the player. Even purely defensive healers can be interesting to play (between resource management, prioritizing who to heal, making sure to have an answer for lots of different kinds of harm, and such) but this class doesn't have anything more complex than "How much was I hit for last turn?" and "Am I still in combat focus?"

To make this class actually useful and interesting to play, you'll want to do two things:

1) Condense the class abilities by a lot, so that it can get all the stuff it needs in fewer levels and be turned into a PrC or something and/or so that you can give it some offensive abilities (or at least more interesting defensive and utility abilities) in the levels freed up. You don't really need Improved Mettle and SR and a bunch of immunities and very high saves that you don't fail on a 1, for instance, because that's four different ways to do the same thing: you can avoid dying from a finger of death by always downgrading death to damage, by having SR protect you, by being immune to [Death] effects, or by always making the save, and the end result of all four cases is the same, just HP damage (which your d12 HD and Con take care of).

2) Give it more reasons for enemies to care about it. This can take the form of being able to protect teammates (extend protections to the whole party, take debuffs in place of teammates, etc.) so they can't just ignore it without being hampered in attacking the rest of the party, or ways to turn enemy powers on their users so for instance enemies' alpha strikes bounce back at them or this class can jump into AoEs and such to turn spells back on them or the like, and similar abilities that ensure people playing this class don't just stand there not contributing.

I hear you.
Now that I think of it, the following class abilities suddenly seem redundant, so I'm thinking of removing them:
5 > Counter Size Benefits
11 > SR
14 > Death Ward
15 > Freedom of Movement
18 > Mind Blank

Other changes that come to mind include:
1. Move Diehard to 5th
2. Add the following feature at 7th:
Center of Attention (Ex): Starting at 7th level, your presence on the battlefield becomes particularly hard to ignore. Whenever an opponent within your threatened area takes any action other than an offensive action toward you (e.g. attack someone else, move (including 5'-step), drink a potion etc.), it provokes an AoO from you.


This still leaves me with 2 dead levels at 14 and 18, and a bit lacking at levels 11 and 15.
Maybe I could give it a supernatural ability to increase size by sheer force of will, IDK. I'm not sure what will constitute a decent ability at those levels (while maintaining a more or less mundane feel) and I'm not sure what I can condense any further w/o harming elegance of design.

brian 333
2017-12-17, 12:50 PM
Furious Assault (Su): invoking the divine rage of hir deity, the Zealot takes the offense to the enemy!

This effect lasts 1d4 rounds plus 1 round x Cha Modifier. (Negative Cha modifiers never reduce this ability below 1 round duration. Evil characters may treat negative Cha modifiers as if they were pisitive if their deity includes horror or fear in its portfolio.)

The Zealot gains divine +2 to hit, +2 to damage while under the effects of this ability.
The Zealot gains +5' reach to any weapon, including natural weapons.
The Zealot gains a 10 foot step, which conforms to all rules of the normal 5' step, except that so long as this effect is active, the character can move one step of up to 10 feet instead of the usual 5.

In addition to creating many more AoOs, the Zealot can maintain contact with a foe and force him to engage before getting around to the party behind him. Imagine a Zealot with a Halberd with 15 foot reach getting 3 AoOs on everything that tries to rush around him. The time limit will be important. I'd also cap it at 1 use per day charisma bonus, (or absolute value of cha bonus if evil.)


Fanattack (Su): Absolute faith overcomes the normal fear of death.

This ability lasts up to a daily limit of one round per level of Zealot plus one round per charisma modifier.

While making a Fanattack the Zealot loses any Dex based modifier to defense.

While conducting a Fanattack the Zealot gains one additional attack per every three Zealot levels. The first in a series of additional attacks is calculated as the first attack of a round, while subsequent attacks receive a cumulative -5 penalty. Thus a character with a +20 BaB makes his first additional attack at +20, the second at +15, then +10, +5, etc.

For every additional attack taken, (not every attack possible,) the Zealot reduces his AC. Thus, taking five additional attacks reduces AC by 5 for that round. Thus the number of attacks intended must be declared before the enemy combat rolls are made for that round.

While the normal combat round is calculated normally, additional attacks due to this ability may be made upon multiple opponents without penalty subject to rules of reach.

This ability can double the offensive capability of the Zealot, and should be monitored for tweaks, such as use per day limits.

aimlessPolymath
2017-12-17, 06:26 PM
In terms of cleaning up dead levels, I'd like to see something to add on to the actual threat this character poses. One thought I have:

Injury: Whenever the Zealot deals weapon damage to a creature, that creature takes a - 1 penalty to all d20 rolls for one round. This penalty stacks with itself.

Penalty adjustable, of course, but the ability to inflict -2 or - 3 each round, plus attacks of opportunities, seems pretty good.

PairO'Dice Lost
2017-12-17, 08:03 PM
I'm not sure what will constitute a decent ability at those levels (while maintaining a more or less mundane feel) and I'm not sure what I can condense any further w/o harming elegance of design.

Elegance of design, in and of itself, isn't necessarily a good end goal, because "does something elegantly" and "achieves the desired end goal" don't always go together.

There are many ways to make a class where the class itself can cover practically any role and theme but a given build has its own defined theme and combat style, so in theory you would want to make classes that do that do so in the most elegant way possible. However, the fighter and sorcerer are arguably two of the most elegantly designed classes in the PHB--each has no extraneous class abilities, each uses a single subsystem, and each can use that subsystem to customize their fighting style and theme completely--but end up as respectively one of the weakest and one of the strongest classes in the entire edition. Meanwhile, the classes generally considered to be the most balanced, or at least fall in the middle of the power scale on average, are those like the bard (which juggles both spell slots and bardic music uses, has a very eclectic mix of bardic music uses, and can fill in as a secondary member of pretty much any class or role but has to jump through hoops with certain spell/feat/PrC choices to get there) and the wildshape ranger (who has to juggle spell slots and wild shape uses and favored enemy/terrain and combat style that all use different subsystems, and has to deal with the rather clunky polymorph mechanics).

To make a tough-as-nails mundane class, you can't just toss together a ton of defensive abilities and then fill in the cracks with offensive abilities until it looks good. Doing that runs into lots of negative synergies among the defensive abilities, like redundant abilities that look impressive but are much less than the sum of their parts (like the overlapping defenses mentioned before) or abilities that get in each other's way (like a monk, whose Speed Boost is good for a mobile character while its Flurry of Blows is good for a character who wants to stand still and full attack). It also means you lack synergies among offensive abilities; Center of Attention is a great ability for a tank-like character, for instance, but where a fighter with tons of tank-y feats or a crusader with lots of tank-y maneuvers and stances would get amazing use out of it, this class has barely anything boosting its offense so making a bunch of normal un-enhanced AoOs doesn't really add up to much.


Take a step back and look at the goal for this class. Why do you want a really tough mundane fighter? Is it because you want it to:
Be tough to protect the rest of its team from monsters? Then it needs team-defending abilities first (off-turn movement to intercept monsters, ways to prevent monsters from attacking other creatures, high "spikes" of damage so it can punish monsters that ignore it, and the like) and the ability to soak monster attacks second.
Be personally near-invulnerable in combat while wading into masses of foes? Then it needs mook-slaying abilities first (abilities for moving between attacks, melee AoE abilities, and the like) and it probably wants abilities to encourage reckless behavior to show off that personal invulnerability.

And so forth.

Think of it this way: if you gestalted the original all-defense-all-the-time-no-offense version of the class with a barbarian/Frenzied Berserker, it would feel and play very differently than if it were gestalted with a Devoted Spirit- and White-Raven-focused crusader, which would feel and play very differently from a gestalt Tiger Claw- and Iron Heart-focused warblade, which would feel and play very differently from a gestalt sword-and-board fighter, and so on. That near-invulnerability lets them all do different things they couldn't do on their own (the barbarian can be even more reckless since he gets rid of his few remaining weaknesses, the warblade can take more utility maneuvers and stances because he doesn't really need defensive ones, etc.), but being nigh-invulnerable doesn't let them do any of those things on its own, it's the variety of well-integrated class abilities that do that.

nonsi
2017-12-18, 01:19 AM
Take a step back and look at the goal for this class. Why do you want a really tough mundane fighter? Is it because you want it to:
Be tough to protect the rest of its team from monsters? Then it needs team-defending abilities first (off-turn movement to intercept monsters, ways to prevent monsters from attacking other creatures, high "spikes" of damage so it can punish monsters that ignore it, and the like) and the ability to soak monster attacks second.
Be personally near-invulnerable in combat while wading into masses of foes? Then it needs mook-slaying abilities first (abilities for moving between attacks, melee AoE abilities, and the like) and it probably wants abilities to encourage reckless behavior to show off that personal invulnerability.

And so forth.

Here are some suggestions that don't involve class features per-se (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=13120816&postcount=3).
Those solutions are not so great, because they consume a lot of character resources and don't yield an adequate result.
Both suggestions above are noteworthy options. Maybe a single class feature that lets you choose one or the other? Maybe it would split according to the character's Good-Evil association? At which level then?





Think of it this way: if you gestalted the original all-defense-all-the-time-no-offense version of the class with a barbarian/Frenzied Berserker, it would feel and play very differently than if it were gestalted with a Devoted Spirit- and White-Raven-focused crusader, which would feel and play very differently from a gestalt Tiger Claw- and Iron Heart-focused warblade, which would feel and play very differently from a gestalt sword-and-board fighter, and so on. That near-invulnerability lets them all do different things they couldn't do on their own (the barbarian can be even more reckless since he gets rid of his few remaining weaknesses, the warblade can take more utility maneuvers and stances because he doesn't really need defensive ones, etc.), but being nigh-invulnerable doesn't let them do any of those things on its own, it's the variety of well-integrated class abilities that do that.

I try not to take gestalt into consideration when designing a class. Somehow gestalt never felt right to me.

PairO'Dice Lost
2017-12-18, 02:02 AM
Here are some suggestions that don't involve class features per-se (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=13120816&postcount=3).
Those solutions are not so great, because they consume a lot of character resources and don't yield an adequate result.

Agreed, which is why building effective options into the class up front is better than relying on external resources for them.


Both suggestions above are noteworthy options. Maybe a single class feature that lets you choose one or the other? Maybe it would split according to the character's Good-Evil association? At which level then?

It could be a Good/Evil thing, or just a choice like a barbarian's totem or ranger's combat style. And like those two features, the path/style/etc. choice for this class should come very early on, no later than 2nd or maybe 3rd, so it has a strong identity from near the start of play.

There's no reason to limit it to just two things, either; it's all up to what you want the class to be able to do. Even sticking with the alignment associations I could see at least five different paths: a "block bad things from getting to the team" path for Good, a "stalk forward menacingly and implacably to scare peoples' pants off" path for Evil, a "help allies overcome bad things through coordination and encouragement" path for Law, a "charge into the middle of enemies while invulnerable and laughing maniacally" path for Chaos, and a "take bad things people do to you and turn them back on your enemies" path for Neutrality.


I try not to take gestalt into consideration when designing a class. Somehow gestalt never felt right to me.

Oh, I wasn't saying you should design this with an eye for gestalt. I meant that if you, as a thought experiment, just straight up add all the benefits of this class onto other classes you can see that (A) there are many different directions in which you can take this class when it comes to offensive and utility abilities without losing the core "near impossible to kill" feel and (B) the class as it stands doesn't bring anything unique to the table in terms of theme and playstyle because it's almost all passive benefits.

nonsi
2017-12-21, 04:05 PM
It could be a Good/Evil thing, or just a choice like a barbarian's totem or ranger's combat style. And like those two features, the path/style/etc. choice for this class should come very early on, no later than 2nd or maybe 3rd, so it has a strong identity from near the start of play.

There's no reason to limit it to just two things, either; it's all up to what you want the class to be able to do. Even sticking with the alignment associations I could see at least five different paths: a "block bad things from getting to the team" path for Good, a "stalk forward menacingly and implacably to scare peoples' pants off" path for Evil, a "help allies overcome bad things through coordination and encouragement" path for Law, a "charge into the middle of enemies while invulnerable and laughing maniacally" path for Chaos, and a "take bad things people do to you and turn them back on your enemies" path for Neutrality.


I'm definitely gonna be working on fleshing out this angle. Thanks.