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Thread: [3.5]Dvati: Playing Twins

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    Darrin's Avatar

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    Oct 2006
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    Default Re: [3.5]Dvati: Playing Twins

    In an attempt to put this issue to rest, I found Talon Dunning's facebook page and asked him directly if he knew anything about how Dvati should work under 3.5 rules.

    As it turns out... Talon had no involvement with adapting the Dvati to 3rd Edition. While he does seem inclined to agree that each twin should get his own set of actions, he didn't exactly endorse it either. He also pointed out something I missed in Mike McArtor's email, that the twins move simultaneously on the same move action. So what we have here is three interpretations:

    1) The twins get only one set of actions, and must divide either one full-round action or one move + one standard action between themselves. The biggest drawback (other than the unplayable stupidity of such a restriction) is their signature Echo Attack just doesn't work: two move actions takes up an entire round, after which the target can just move away. On the next round, assuming the target is still close enough to attack, with only one standard attack or full attack per pair, it's impossible for both twins to attack the same target.

    2) The twins get only one set of actions, but each action is performed simultaneously by both bodies. So, yes, they only get one move and one standard action a round, but they *both move* on that same move action, and *both attack* on that same standard action. Likewise, if the Dvati used one full-round attack, both bodies would full-attack simultaneously. In other words, this is a somewhat confusing way to say, yes, the twins each get a set of actions, but they must be identical actions. If one twin wanted to do something different than the other one, the first one would take actions while the second one couldn't act at all. Either that or they would have to divide up as Option 1): the first twin could take a move action while the second took a standard action. While this interpretation may make them playable (including the Echo Attack), it seems to me the "identical" requirement would get really, really annoying.

    3) Each twin gets its own separate set of actions. The first one could use a move action + standard action, and the second one could full-attack or do something else. While this is perhaps a lot more powerful than Option 2), it's the least annoying and most playable. Talon and I differ a little on whether +1 LA would be enough to offset such an ability. Some playtesting in that regard might definitely be worth pursuing.

    Anyway, with Talon's permission, I'm reposting two of his email responses:

    Email #1

    Quote Originally Posted by Talon Dunning

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    I'm hoping you can help clarify something that comes up every once in a while in various D&D forums. You're the original creator of the Dvati race, which was first printed in Dragon #271.
    Yep. That was me. ;-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    When Paizo printed the Dragon Compendium volume 1, they updated the Dvati to 3rd Edition and provided rules for using them as player characters. I'm not sure if you had any input in the update or how much you are familiar with 3rd Edition rules, but the description in the Dragon Compendium isn't entirely clear on how many actions they get per round. Mike McArtor, an associate editor for Dragon (who may or may not have been involved with updating the Dvati to 3rd Edition, we're not sure), did responed to an email way back when and answered some questions about the Dvati, but the general consensus seems to be that he has no bleepin' clue what he was talking about. Here's a link to the discussion, if you're interested:
    I had nothing to do with the conversion to 3.5 rules. I didn't know about them until after they had been published. I have read through the rules and commented in the forums before regarding their version of the race. Generally speaking, I think they did an pretty decent job. My problem with them is one that I think makes them virtually unplayable, and that's the fact that they share a single character's hit-points, making them incredibly fragile. If I ever ran a set of Dvati, I'd waive that rule and give each twin his own full hit-points. But then, that's not what you asked about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    Anyway, as the original designer, I was hoping you could settle this issue about how many actions they get per round. Mike's take is the pair must share whatever actions a single character would get, hence the pair gets one full round action or one move action + standard action per round to divide between the two.
    By the rules they set up, that's correct. As I understand it, they took the "two bodies, one soul" thing and ran with it. When you play a Dvati pair, you're literally playing a single character who just happens to be able to be in two places at once. But in all respects, a Dvati set represents a single character and gets no more actions, hit-points or anything else that any other PC gets. This is all in the name of game-balance, of course, and has nothing to do with logic (much like most of the design of 4th edition, I might add).

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    The main argument against this is it makes them pretty much unplayable.
    I think this is a much smaller issue than the hit-points. Consider a first-level fighter. A first-level human fighter gets 10 hp, making him a very tough hombre for his level. A first-level dvati fighter also gets 10 HP, but those hit-points are split evenly between two bodies, meaning that each Dvati twin has FIVE hp, making them only one hp tougher than a wizard. A fighter with a wizard's hit-points is a dead fighter no mater how you slice it. This alone makes them unplayable. getting only a single set of actions... That's almost reasonable. It's unrealistically illogical, but it's not a death-sentence.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    Dvati have to split their HP, if one of them casts a spell the other one can't take any actions, and they already have a +1 Level Adjustment. On top of that, if we go with Mike McArtor's interpretation, their signature "Echo Attack" is almost unusable: Since each twin would have to spend a move action to activate it, they no longer have a standard action to attack that round, and would have to wait until the next round to attack... allowing their target to just move away if he were so inclined.
    Don't they move in unison? It's been a while since I read it, but I was thinking that if both twins moved in unison, it still only took a single move action, and that it only took two if they moved separately (or in different directions). If that's the case then the Echo Attack can work in a single round as long as both dvati use their shared move action to encircle their foe. If only one moves, then it doesn't work as the other must move to catch up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    The other interpretation, which I hope you'll endorse, is that each Dvati gets a full complement of actions every round, so each twin gets a full round action or a move + standard action. This also allows their Echo Attack to work on the same round. Would you happen to have any strong opinions on this, one way or the other?
    Well, it's not my place to directly contradict the rules that the guys at Paizo have put together. I can only tell you what *I* would do if this were *MY* game, and that is to do what you have said. I would give each twin a full set of hit-points at the very least. The reason for this (besides keeping the characters alive past the first encounter) is that hit-points represent the general condition of the BODY, not the person. Even with a dvati set sharing the same soul, they do not share the same body. Physically, they are like any other normal set of twins. If you were playing human twins, you wouldn't split their hit dice and there's no reason to assume the dvati do either. As for actions per round, that one's a little more tough. My inclination is to say that each twin gets a full set of actions, but I can understand what some people would have a problem with that. That basically means that the dvati's player's character gets twice the actions of everyone else at the table and that can be annoying. A good compromise might be to say that a dvati set gets the same actions as everyone else (one move, one standard or two moves), plus a single extra move or standard action of their choice per round. I would also make sure to say that this extra action cannot be used for spellcasting, as to prevent them from casting two standard-action spells per round, which would be broken. But they could, say, cast a single spell and then stab a guy with their sword or make a standard move. I will say that if both twins get a full action separate from the other, then the level-adjustment should probably be at least a +2. Getting two full actions a round is HUGE.

    But that's just a suggestion. In the end, it's really up to every DM to make his own ruling when changing the published rules. If your DM is okay with both twins getting full actions, then do it that way. If not, then go with what's in the book and hope for the best.

    Interestingly, I ran a 3.0 game with a set of dvati in it long before the "official" version was released and it never occurred to me to treat the set like a single character. I, instead, treated them like two completely separate characters, just as I designed them to be in 2nd edition. They had identical starting ability scores, but other than that I treated them like normal siblings of any other race. They were developed individually and treated individually in the game (although, for the sake of ease, they shared initiative as long as they kept the same bonus). I was shocked when Paizon introduced the idea of treating them as a single, collective character split into two bodies. That had literally never occurred to me and was a beautifully elegant solution to the biggest obstacle I always faced with the race in previous editions, which was how to justify allowing a player to have two characters. I really have to give Paizo props for that solution. I only wish they'd worked out the kinks a little better. You're not the first person to approach me with this question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    Either way, thanks for such a creative and interesting idea.
    Thanks for liking it! I've created quite a bit of game material over the years and the dvati have always been one of my favorites. I was really happy when they earned Honorable Mention in the Dragon magazine Design-A-Monster contest and was honored as hell when Paizo chose to resurrect them for the compendium. I mean out of all the material they could have pulled out of all those years of Dragon magazine articles, they chose my humble creation to be in their book. I may not have won first prize, but it's my creation that stood the test of time and that's just super cool. :-)

    Good luck with your games! if you'd like to see some more of my more recent creations, visit my website, It's still a little sparse at the moment, but I'm slowly getting new material created and uploaded. I hope you enjoy it.


    Email #2

    Quote Originally Posted by Talon Dunning

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    The split HP wasn't so much of a concern for me, since each twin gets their full Constitution bonus, and there are other ways to boost HPs. A high Constitution bonus would be a must, though... and a Constitution penalty would pretty much be a death penalty.
    Even a high Con wouldn't be enough to save any character relying on hit-points, such as a fighter or barbarian. Spellcasters might have a better shot, but then again, spellcasters are almost always targets.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    Hmm... I'm not inclined to think of two 5 HP fighters as being more fragile than one 10 HP fighter. First, in both cases it takes 10 HP to remove them from the combat, and second, a 5 HP fighter isn't all that much different than a 6 HP rogue/bard/monk. A fighter with only 5 HP that charges up to the front line and doesn't think tactically, or doesn't coordinate with his twin to minimize his risks, or just plain acts like a fighter with 10 HP... well, they deserve to get cut down quickly.
    Tactical thinking could, indeed, be the savior, but if they had the full compliment of hit-points, they wouldn't need to compensate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    Getting only a single set of actions... I can't see how that's reasonable in any way shape or form. One twin moves up to engage in combat, leaving his twin with only a standard action... which he can't use because he's not in melee range, forcing his twin to stand there and do nothing while the first one attacks. Next round, his twin moves up, and one of them gets an attack, or the first one can full-attack while the second one again does nothing. I guess my main point is what is the point of having two bodies and paying +1 Level Adjustment for it if both twins can't move and attack independently? If you're going to be penalized with a +1 LA, shouldn't there be some sort of benefit? With only one set of actions to divide between the two, there's no benefit to playing a Dvati.
    I agree, for the most part, but I can also see the naysayers' POV as well. Handing a player two full actions a round smacks of being highly unfair. There are those who would make a stink about it (and obviously are). plus, as you say, it's a tad unrealistic, but as D&D4 certainly proves, sometimes realism must be sacrificed in the name of the balance and playability.

    But for the most part, I agree. Restricting them to a single set of actions makes them very difficult to play accurately and takes away the advantage of playing a set of twins.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    "Moving in unision" would be a new ability.
    Well, I re-read some of that thread you linked (which I posted to back on '06, actually), and the Paizo guy clearly states that they share their movement by moving in unison. Making it a specific racial ability, or at the very least detailing the rules regarding their movement would have been very helpful. I have a feeling that Paizo didn't playtest their version or they would have realized that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    Actually, the Echo Attack text says each Dvati must spend a separate move action to activate the ability. This is my main support for arguing why the rules *imply* each twin gets a separate set of actions, because this is the only way that Echo Attack can be used in the same round that both twins move. But it's not a particularly strong argument, unless you want an Echo Attack that takes two rounds to activate and is thus almost impossible to pull off against a foe that can just move away.
    Yeah, that's pretty difficult to get around.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    I don't see how it would be any more annoying than a Druid with an animal companion, a Paladin with a mount, or some other PC that takes the Leadership feat to pick up a cohort. Extra actions for a melee character doesn't bother me so much, particularly at higher levels where the wizards, clerics, and druids can pretty much pwn the game just by casting one spell. Fortunately, the rules for Dvati spellcasting prevents too much spellcasting abuse, since either both twins have to spend the same actions on spellcasting, or one twin can't take any actions at all while the other concentrates on casting.. In that respect, I would expect a Dvati spellcaster would play very much like any other spellcaster.
    Support characters are usually considerably weaker than the main characters, being of significantly lower level and often go on their own initiative. It wouldn't be a problem for me, but I can see how it could be for some people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    Yes, two standard actions to cast spells would be broken, but the rules for spellcasting Dvati prevent this. If one twin is casting a spell, the other either has to spend the same actions to cast it or can't take any actions.
    That's a good rule, I think, even if both twins get full actions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    Two full-round actions as a pure melee character...? I'm more inclined to think the +1 LA covers that. Extra melee attacks don't bother me so much from a balance standpoint, and is easy to fix (4 orcs not enough? Ok, 6 orcs show up next time). At any rate, a little playtesting would probably straighten that out.
    Indeed. I've never gotten the chance to try it out myself, mostly because the folks in my own gaming group are... touchy when it comes to the subject of things like balance and stubborn with their labels. The Paizo dvati have already been branded as "unplayably broken," so chances are good that I would never be allowed to play a set. Which is a shame because a dvati set of Sisters of Rapture (see <> ) could be really fun. ;-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin
    Thank you for taking the time to respond. May I have your permission to repost your responses to the Giant In the Playground or Brilliant Gameologists RPG forums?
    Sure, as long as you don't edit them too much. I'm hesitant to bee seen as speaking out against the good folks at Paizo, especially since I hope to work for them one day. I feel a great sense of gratitude toward them for choosing my creation for their book and I'd hate to be seen as anything other than humbled by the honor. As long as you don't make it seem like I'm bad-mouthing them (or anyone else), then I'm fine with it. Just make sure everyone realizes that despite my being the guy who created the original version, that I should not be seen as the ultimate authority on the 3e version as I had nothing to do with its creation. In the end, each DM should be the ultimate authority over his or her own game and, barring that, the developers of the Dragon Compendium certainly have more say over the "official" rules than I do. Like all of you, I can only speculate as to what I would do in my OWN game.

    Also, I would appreciate it if you would thank all the fans for me. I'm continuously flattered by the knowledge that after all these years, people still care enough about the dvati to debate their playability. The fact that anyone even remembers them, much less still wants to play them, just blows my mind. So thanks to you all.