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Thread: Morph Bark's Homebrew Tier Compendium

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    T.G. Oskar's Avatar

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    May 2009

    Default Re: Morph Bark's Homebrew Tier Compendium

    Hold it!

    Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, and Honorable Jury of this Homebrew Court, if I may present an...


    ...and, exerting my right to defend myself, I wish to appeal for a fairer trial!

    As my first statement, the appeal is not in order to neglect the judgment of this Honorable Court and of Justice Morpholomew Bark, but that I have found four points that were unduly neglected during the examination.

    Point #1:
    During the rigorous examination of my work, which was limited mostly to homebrewed classes, I found that the study of the "Monk" class used an outdated version of the 'brew. If I may, I wish to present this Honorable Court with the latest version of the Monk (Exhibit A). This version is truly in accordance with my vision of homebrewed content, and I recognize its labyrinthine amount of content which may leave people feebleminded upon a close examination. The content has been mildly revised by the good fellows of the Dungeons & Dragons Wiki Proper, Homebrew Consultation and Marketing Services, which may end up further improving the recipe (Exhibit B). I would desire the prosecution to provide a clear definition between my earlier attempt, which I have deemed "Monk Lite" and approved for people intolerant to heavily homebrewed content, from the "Retooled Monk" proper.

    Point #2:
    I have found that various pieces of homebrewed content are missing, particularly one which I have yet to update on my Expanded Homebrew Signature. I would like to present the Court with the latest posted 'brew, the Zealot (Exhibit C), a piece of homebrew using the Incarnum system as sanctioned by the Wizards of the Coast, and an extensive revision of the Soulborn class using the Divine Champion chassis as presented in Project Heretica.

    Point #3:
    If allowed by this Honorable Court, I would wish to cross-examine the prosecution's dictaminations regarding the Retooled Ranger, on the grounds of "retooling provides no Tier improvement to the class ending in a zero-upgrade version".

    The prosecution's words regarding the Retooled Ranger are as follows:
    Quote Originally Posted by The Playgrounders of Homebrew Design forum v. T.G. Oskar View Post
    Ranger; the addition of Trapfinding, Fast Movement and Favoured Terrain/Plane added some minor things to the Ranger, as well as the Fighter bonus feats in addition to his Combat Style, as a whole made the Ranger a lot stronger and allowed for more leniency on feat choice. Lenient on feat choice? Ha! As if anyone needs that! Feats were meant to be rare for anyone but the Fighter! We’re lucky that overall those changes and additions, as well as the switch to Druid spells, still wasn’t enough to increase its Tier, but the changes certainly do make it better. Defendant also may have a hidden love for Disney movies.
    Now, based on the original document regarding the Tier System for classes:
    Quote Originally Posted by JaronK, on the description of tiers
    Tier 3: Capable of doing one thing quite well, while still being useful when that one thing is inappropriate, or capable of doing all things, but not as well as classes that specialize in that area. Occasionally has a mechanical ability that can solve an encounter, but this is relatively rare and easy to deal with. Can be game breaking only with specific intent to do so. Challenging such a character takes some thought from the DM, but isn't too difficult. Will outshine any Tier 5s in the party much of the time.

    Examples: Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, Crusader, Bard, Swordsage, Binder (without access to the summon monster vestige), Wildshape Varient Ranger, Duskblade, Factotum, Warblade, Psychic Warrior

    Tier 4: Capable of doing one thing quite well, but often useless when encounters require other areas of expertise, or capable of doing many things to a reasonable degree of competance without truly shining. Rarely has any abilities that can outright handle an encounter unless that encounter plays directly to the class's main strength. DMs may sometimes need to work to make sure Tier 4s can contribute to an encounter, as their abilities may sometimes leave them useless. Won't outshine anyone except Tier 6s except in specific circumstances that play to their strengths. Cannot compete effectively with Tier 1s that are played well.

    Examples: Rogue, Barbarian, Warlock, Warmage, Scout, Ranger, Hexblade, Adept, Spellthief, Marshal, Fighter (Zhentarium Variant)
    The comparison case pits the Wildshape variant Ranger (Exhibit D) with the vanilla Ranger (Exhibit E), placing one in a higher tier than the other. The oft-touted comparison test between Tiers results as follows:

    Situation 1: A Black Dragon has been plaguing an area, and he lives in a trap filled cave. Deal with him.

    Situation 2: You have been tasked by a nearby country with making contact with the leader of the underground slave resistance of an evil tyranical city state, and get him to trust you.

    Situation 3: A huge army of Orcs is approaching the city, and should be here in a week or so. Help the city prepare for war.
    In theory, because of the ability to turn into animals while retaining spellcasting ability, the Ranger can deal with a Black Dragon while avoiding traps through judicious use of wildshape, use forms to avoid suspicion and find the secret hideout of the resistance, and...this person find a lack of evidence to support a city against an army of Orcs.

    Now, I would like to present the extensive list of changes done to the Ranger class, and how the changes may present a different observation of the Tier:
    • The list of class skills has been expanded, to add trap-defusing options such as Disable Device, and mobility options such as Tumble.
    • An extensive alteration to Combat Styles in order to change their perception as "fixed set of bonus feats" into veritable improvements to the class. The fact that all improvements are Extraordinary in nature improve their effectiveness.
    • Their spellcasting ability was improved in a significant way. Druid spellcasting is only a fraction of what they possess, as the list of spells includes enhancements such as [Greater] Magic Weapon and Haste, stealth spells such as Invisibility, detection spells such as See Invisibility and even debuffing tactics such as Glitterdust and Slow. These are neither part of the Ranger list nor part of the Druid list, but rather a selection of spells that provide a much-needed boost to the Ranger. Also, a few spells were reduced in spell level for ease of access, such as the Cure Wounds line.
    • Favored Enemy, alongside Favored Terrain, are switchable options. Weekly (or daily with a penalty), the Ranger may switch their set of favored enemies to better suit their needs; as well, the bonus on skills focuses exclusively on stealth and detection skills (no Bluff) and grants the bonus to attack rolls. Favored Enemy can now apply properly against the most common creatures within an area, and works best when the Ranger has prior study of the enemies and the terrain, a tactic often used by Tier 1 characters (although on their own, unlike the Ranger).
    • The addition of Uncanny Dodge and Improved Uncanny Dodge make them able to withstand any ambushes, and even flanking, except by Rogues of four levels higher. A Ranger facing a Rogue four levels higher may also be facing another monster of four levels higher, which by itself involves a "difficult challenge".
    • Their animal companion has been thoroughly boosted to mere inches behind the Druid's one (the Ranger counts as a Druid three levels lower), thus enabling Brown Bears, Dire Lions, Fleshrakers and other nasty creatures to lend their assistance.
    • Their class features reinforce their dual mastery of stealth and perception, as abilities such as Survival Mastery ensure a safe boundary for results, whereas abilities such as Untraceable mingle with Darkstalker to make the Ranger essentially invisible to everything. Camouflage and Hide in Plain Sight are reduced from their original levels to make them viable much earlier.
    • Not only do they have Evasion, they also have Improved Evasion. This means that they'll rarely be harmed by traps in the eventualiity they fail a saving throw, making them more than a match for a Rogue specialized in trap disarming.

    Now, using the sanctioned situations where the Tiers are put to test, let's examine the results:
    Situation 1: The Ranger has Disable Device, Search, the Detect Snares and Pits spell, and various other buffs to its disposal. In theory, the Ranger could lead the party to safety, potentially finding how many enemies are located in the cave by looking at the tracks (as the Ranger is a master Survivalist). Fighting alongside the dragon, the Ranger and its animal companion function as a lethal duo, particularly if the Ranger specializes in dragons; as they're about to face a dragon, it is natural that the Ranger changes its enemy specialization to Dragons and its terrain specialization to Underground, thus taking advantage of both bonuses. Albeit not alone, the Ranger can stand its ground effectively against the Dragon, what with its Evasion ability (and eventual Improved Evasion) deny the Dragon's greatest weapon. It all depends on the combat style, as Archery (or Throwing) become particularly potent whereas Capturing not as much (but it allows the Ranger to stand its ground against the Dragon's grappling check, unless it wishes to use Escape Artist).
    Situation #2: The Ranger can use its stealth and athletic skills to find the best path, and through they lack Gather Information to find the individual, a careful search for tracks may lead it to the secret hideout, which it may find using Search. Or, if a contact is available, the Ranger may use Animal Messengers to relay information towards a safer place, one which may be under the Ranger's advantage. This requires a great degree of improvisation, so the Ranger may be under-equipped for this one, but it can solve otherwise.
    Situation #3: The Ranger is a warrior first and foremost, but it also has the skill of creating traps, which it may use to its advantage. By setting up the right terrain and the right favored enemy (orcs), it can take advantage of a great bonus to attack and damage rolls every turn. With spells such as Entangle, Glitterdust, Haste, Slow and others, you can set up various traps that can slow down even the worst horde, while providing your allies with decisive advantages. The Ranger may not be the best leader in the party, but he'll rack up the most kills if set up properly.

    Now, this cross-examination may seem a bit biased, but I have presented the sanctioned method of examining a class' Tier, and thus it is reasonable to assume that, with the new evidence, the prosecution may choose to reformulate its statement and potentially improving the rating of the Ranger, at least to borderline Tier 3.

    Point #4:
    The last, and in my honest and humble opinion the most important, is that the prosecution gravely misunderstood the scope and importance of Project Heretica, which, if the Court allows me to be so bold, is what I would consider my Magnum Opus; it is, after all, through sublimation of the Paladin to its barest essence that I found the important discovery of the chassis underlying each class, the structure and skeleton of all classes and what, in a sense, defines each.

    For starters, as I've stated proper on the first post, it HAS to deal with Paladins, but it goes beyond. The full scope of Project Heretica cannot, and should never be, limited only to its Paladin class. To do so would be to neglect the Blackguard, the Justiciar and the Anarch (what I like to call the "Peanut Butter And Jelly" classes), the extensive boosts to Prestige Classes like the Hospitaller, the Pious Templar, the Gray Guard, the Hunter of the Dead and the Knight of the Chalice, as well as the plethora of Alternate Class Features for all classes, and even the improvements to the Holy Avenger and the introduction of Armor Suits of Virtue.

    Now, I understand clearly that the position of the Court is to study the homebrewed classes, as these are the only ones that may be Tiered proper. Even then, the Court (and the Prosecution, by that), neglected the study of the other classes of Project Heretica, as they are based on the same chassis and thus may be seen as mirror images of each other. While this is largely the case, further observation indicates that they hold significative differences. To boot: the Paladin is more defensive, relying on shields and defensive auras, and providing offensive through retributive damage. The Blackguard falls on the line of all-out offense, with most of their tactics being focused towards dealing as much damage as possible, and minor debuffing. The Justiciar has a balanced amount of offense and defense, but it has a strong specialization upon Incapacitation, as it is a deputized officer of the Law. The Anarch relies on happenstance, and its main offensive tactic becomes further improved when leaving luck to the wind. All four, while based on the same chassis, are distinct enough to merit further investigation. Furthermore, the retooled Paladin has been evaluated extensively by the good fellows of the Dungeons & Dragons Wiki Proper, Homebrew Consultation and Marketing Services, of which several changes have been done to power up the class. The fellows have deemed, thus far, that the Project Heretica Paladin stands around the High/Rogue level of balance, which is mostly equivalent to Tier 3 in many cases, or that the 'brew aims for it.

    In my humble and honest opinion, I have a worry that the Court may be biased towards considering partial spellcasting unworthy of Tier 3, reserved only for two-thirds spellcasting (the method of spellcasting used by the Bard and the Psychic Warrior). I may be forced to explain, in no simple words, why "half spellcasting" done the right way isn't an impediment for a class to achieve Tier 3, and that such a line of thought leads to discrimination (but perhaps not now, and not in this place). I am strongly against the idea that a Paladin, a Ranger or a "half"-spellcaster cannot reach Tier 3 unless it upgrades to 6-level spellcasting. It is an affront (I may even dare say sin) to creativity, particularly when a creative option such as expanding the spell list to its roots and re-arranging spells may prove just as useful.

    After having presented my points, I leave to the consideration of the Honorable Court of Homebrew and its presiding judge, Justice Bark, to analyze my points and re-evaluate the final decision.
    Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2013-08-11 at 08:40 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by firebrandtoluc View Post
    My friend is currently playing a paladin. It's way outside his normal zone. I told him to try to channel Santa Claus, Mr. Rogers, and Kermit the Frog. Until someone refuses to try to get off the naughty list. Then become Optimus Prime.
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