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    Default D&D 3.5 tiers

    A while ago someone posted a link to a guide on D&D 3.5 class tiers, how the tier system works and ways to balance classes. It included a suggestion I really liked, in which classes below tier 2 are played as gestalt characters.

    I've been trying to find the thread it was posted in, but can't seem to find it. Could anyone give me the link?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated

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    Quote Originally Posted by sonofzeal View Post
    Lower levels arcane spells are usually a drag, but lower level psionic powers are often just higher ones waiting to be augmented.

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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Exactly what I was looking for, plus some other cool helpful stuff. Cheers buddy

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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Has anyone posted the Tier system on these forums? I can't click on the links for the tier system on other websites.

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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Quote Originally Posted by Kansaschaser View Post
    Has anyone posted the Tier system on these forums? I can't click on the links for the tier system on other websites.
    With respect to JaronK, who's around here, I'll give you a repost:
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaronK
    The following is a repost of something I made over on the WotC forums. I'm not exactly sure which forum to put it on, as it's intended for a variety of purposes. It's here mostly because I'd like to get some feedback from knowledgeable minds, but it's also a useful tool, much like a handbook, and available for use.

    My general philosophy is that the only balance that really matters in D&D is the interclass balance between the various PCs in a group. If the group as a whole is very powerful and flexible, the DM can simply up the challenge level and complexity of the encounters. If it's weak and inflexible, the DM can lower the challenge level and complexity. Serious issues arise when the party is composed of some members which are extremely powerful and others which are extremely weak, leading to a situation where the DM has two choices: either make the game too easy for the strong members, or too hard for the weak members. Neither is desireable. Thus, this system is created for the following purposes:

    1) To provide a ranking system so that DMs know roughly the power of the PCs in their group

    2) To provide players with knowledge of where their group stands, power wise, so that they can better build characters that fit with their group.

    3) To help DMs who plan to use house rules to balance games by showing them where the classes stand before applying said house rules (how many times have we seen DMs pumping up Sorcerers or weakening Monks?).

    4) To help DMs judge what should be allowed and what shouldn't in their games. It may sound cheesy when the Fighter player wants to be a Half Minotaur Water Orc, but if the rest of his party is Druid, Cloistered Cleric, Archivist, and Artificer, then maybe you should allow that to balance things out. However, if the player is asking to be allowed to be a Venerable White Dragonspawn Dragonwrought Kobold Sorcerer and the rest of the party is a Monk, a Fighter, and a Rogue, maybe you shouldn't let that fly.

    5) To help homebrewers judge the power and balance of their new classes. Pick a Tier you think your class should be in, and when you've made your class compare it to the rest of the Tier. Generally, I like Tier 3 as a balance point, but I know many people prefer Tier 4. If it's stronger than Tier 1, you definitely blew it.

    Psionic classes are mostly absent simply because I don't have enough experience with them. Other absent classes are generally missing because I don't know them well enough to comment, though if I've heard a lot about them they're listed in itallics. Note that "useless" here means "the class isn't particularly useful for dealing with situation X" not "it's totally impossible with enough splat books to make a build that involves that class deal with situation X." "Capable of doing one thing" means that any given build does one thing, not that the class itself is incapable of being built in different ways. Also, "encounters" here refers to appropriate encounters... obviously, anyone can solve an encounter with purely mechanical abilities if they're level 20 and it's CR 1.

    Also note that with enough optimization, it's generally possible to go up a tier, and if played poorly you can easily drop a few tiers, but this is a general averaging, assuming that everyone in the party is playing with roughly the same skill and optimization level. As a rule, parties function best when everyone in the party is within 2 Tiers of each other (so a party that's all Tier 2-4 is generally fine, and so is a party that's all Tier 3-5, but a party that has Tier 1 and Tier 5s in it may have issues).

    The Tier System

    Tier 1: Capable of doing absolutely everything, often better than classes that specialize in that thing. Often capable of solving encounters with a single mechanical ability and little thought from the player. Has world changing powers at high levels. These guys, if played well, can break a campaign and can be very hard to challenge without extreme DM fiat, especially if Tier 3s and below are in the party.

    Examples: Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Archivist, Artificer, Erudite

    Tier 2: Has as much raw power as the Tier 1 classes, but can't pull off nearly as many tricks, and while the class itself is capable of anything, no one build can actually do nearly as much as the Tier 1 classes. Still potencially campaign smashers by using the right abilities, but at the same time are more predictable and can't always have the right tool for the job. If the Tier 1 classes are countries with 10,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenal, these guys are countries with 10 nukes. Still dangerous and world shattering, but not in quite so many ways. Note that the Tier 2 classes are often less flexible than Tier 3 classes... it's just that their incredible potential power overwhelms their lack in flexibility.

    Examples: Sorcerer, Favored Soul, Psion, Binder (with access to online vestiges)

    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. 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, Psionic 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 contribue 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 (Dungeoncrasher Variant)

    Tier 5: Capable of doing only one thing, and not necessarily all that well, or so unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything, and in many types of encounters the character cannot contribute. In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed. Has trouble shining in any encounter unless the rest of the party is weak in that situation and the encounter matches their strengths. DMs may have to work to avoid the player feeling that their character is worthless unless the entire party is Tier 4 and below. Characters in this tier will often feel like one trick ponies if they do well, or just feel like they have no tricks at all if they build the class poorly.

    Examples: Fighter, Monk, CA Ninja, Healer, Swashbuckler, Rokugan Ninja, Soulknife, Expert, OA Samurai, Paladin, Knight

    Tier 6: Not even capable of shining in their own area of expertise. DMs will need to work hard to make encounters that this sort of character can contribute in with their mechanical abilities. Will often feel worthless unless the character is seriously powergamed beyond belief, and even then won't be terribly impressive. Needs to fight enemies of lower than normal CR. Class is often completely unsynergized or with almost no abilities of merit. Avoid allowing PCs to play these characters.

    Examples: CW Samurai, Aristocrat, Warrior, Commoner

    And then there's the Truenamer, which is just broken (as in, the class was improperly made and doesn't function appropriately).

    Now, obviously these rankings only apply when mechanical abilities are being used... in a more social oriented game where talking is the main way of solving things (without using diplomacy checks), any character can shine. However, when the mechanical abilities of the classes in question are being used, it's a bad idea to have parties with more than two tiers of difference.

    It is interesting to note the disparity between the core classes... one of the reasons core has so many problems. If two players want to play a nature oriented shapeshifter and a general sword weilder, you're stuck with two very different tiered guys in the party (Fighter and Druid). Outside of core, it's possible to do it while staying on close Tiers... Wild Shape Variant Ranger and Warblade, for example.

    Note that a few classes are right on the border line between tiers. Duskblade is very low in Tier 3, and Hexblade is low in Tier 4. Fighter is high in Tier 5, and CW Samurai is high in Tier 6 (obviously, since it's pretty much strictly better than the same tier Warrior).

    JaronK


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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Ok, so the tier system is just a list of examples? I thought it would go through every class and prestiege class and give it a tier number. Thanks though.

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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Quote Originally Posted by Kansaschaser View Post
    Has anyone posted the Tier system on these forums? I can't click on the links for the tier system on other websites.
    In their entirety? I don't think so. Would be rather rude, too, seeing as JaronK posts here.
    EDIT: Heh.

    In his defense for not doing it... maintaining large info-posts becomes twice the bother if it's posted cross-forum. And it's usually not a trivial effort to begin with. =/

    EDIT2:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kansaschaser View Post
    Ok, so the tier system is just a list of examples? I thought it would go through every class and prestiege class and give it a tier number. Thanks though.
    Most of the base classes are there already.

    The more obscure base classes might be a good future addition, though...

    PrCs are more difficult. Their power level is sometimes described in terms of how strongly they affect the power level of the base class used to enter, which doesn't really lend itself well to a "tier" system...
    Last edited by Ernir; 2010-12-21 at 05:26 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kansaschaser View Post
    Ok, so the tier system is just a list of examples? I thought it would go through every class and prestiege class and give it a tier number. Thanks though.
    It... pretty much DOES every base class, save the unique Oriental Adventures and Dragon Compendium ones, which are easy enough to slot in.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ernir View Post
    In their entirety? I don't think so. Would be rather rude, too, seeing as JaronK posts here.
    Yeah, I feel sorta bad, but I also dislike denying a guy information.

    Jaron, if you want me to take it down, just PM me and I'll do it instantly. Don't want to infringe on your e-rights or anything, man.

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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Quote Originally Posted by arguskos View Post
    It... pretty much DOES every base class, save the unique Oriental Adventures and Dragon Compendium ones, which are easy enough to slot in.
    Its missing meldshapers, Dragonfire Adept, Dragon Shaman, and.....that's about it for 'standard' D&D that I can think of.

    For the OP,

    Totemist and Incarnate are probably tier 3, Dragonfire Adept and Dragon Shaman are probably tier 4, and Soulborn is probably tier 5.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Godskook View Post
    Its missing meldshapers, Dragonfire Adept, Dragon Shaman, and.....that's about it for 'standard' D&D that I can think of.

    For the OP,

    Totemist and Incarnate are probably tier 3, Dragonfire Adept and Dragon Shaman are probably tier 4, and Soulborn is probably tier 5.
    Right, good catch.

    Might as well do the OA and DC classes:
    Samurai: Tier 4ish, probably.
    Shaman: If cleric is T1, so is Shaman.
    Sohei: Tier 4 or 5, IIRC.

    Battle Dancer: Tier 4-5.
    Death Master: Tier 2 or 3, probably 2 due to a better spell list than the DNecro.
    Jester: Same as Bard, wherever he falls, I forget.
    Mountebank: Tier 5-6. Seriously, crap.
    Savant: Tier 4-5.
    Sha'ir: Big debate. Possibility to get any spell ever, but funky wording makes it hard to understand clearly. Anywhere from 1-3, probably on the lower end of that.
    Urban Druid: It's a druid, but urban. Tier 1.

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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Quote Originally Posted by Godskook View Post
    Its missing meldshapers, Dragonfire Adept, Dragon Shaman, and.....that's about it for 'standard' D&D that I can think of.

    For the OP,

    Totemist and Incarnate are probably tier 3, Dragonfire Adept and Dragon Shaman are probably tier 4, and Soulborn is probably tier 5.
    Calling Dragon Shaman t4 is quite a stretch.

    [Edit]: And OA samurai doesn't really warrant tier 4. Good Will save and better skills don't really make up for the very narrow list of bonus feats and total lack of real class features it 'enjoys'. Ancestral Daisho is basically just a predetermined feat with less options than the actual feat (Ancestral Weapon).
    Last edited by Greenish; 2010-12-21 at 05:50 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    Calling Dragon Shaman t4 is quite a stretch.
    Same tier as Marshal, but I was guessing. Also, he has one of the *RARE* infinite healing(though only to half-health) abilities that is in-class for a base class. As an aura. Gotta be worth something, considering he can heal and fight at the same time(Something only crusaders get in-class otherwise). If its tier 5, its a high tier 5.
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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Quote Originally Posted by Godskook View Post
    Same tier as Marshal, but I was guessing.
    I believe firmly that Marshals shouldn't be tier 4, either.
    Quote Originally Posted by Godskook View Post
    Also, he has one of the *RARE* infinite healing(though only to half-health) abilities that is in-class for a base class. As an aura. Gotta be worth something, considering he can heal and fight at the same time(Something only crusaders get in-class otherwise).
    In-combat healing is notably inefficient, even when it's faster than a small Fast Healing. Besides, their fighting prowess is limited to a mediocre breath weapon every d4 rounds, and simple weapons & medium BAB the rest of the time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Godskook View Post
    If its tier 5, its a high tier 5.
    Hmm, perhaps.
    Last edited by Greenish; 2010-12-21 at 06:14 PM.
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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    I don't think infinite effects (such as healing) warrant an increase in tier - if they did, then the warlock would be ranked a lot higher. Tiers are primarily about versatility, not about raw power.
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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    I was suprised they weren't in the sticky.
    I just assumed that they would be given all the discussion they have provoked.
    (Actually thats probably not quite the criteria it sounds like, or the sticky would be full of Monk stuff )
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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    I have no problem with people re-posting it as long as they're not trying to claim it's their own work or something. It's easier to just have it in one place and have it linked from elsewhere. Though as a note, that was the old one that was linked... here's the slightly more up to date one: http://brilliantgameologists.com/boa...p?topic=5293.0

    With that said, I do enjoy a good defenestration.

    Anyway, I don't rank classes I'm unfamiliar with, so there's a lot that aren't on there. I figured there's enough of a guideline anyway, so it's not too hard to figure out where other classes go. Though I've got some updating to do, and some folks have actually put in some very good information on other classes. I keep meaning to make updates, but then I get distracted...

    JaronK

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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Quote Originally Posted by JaronK View Post
    Anyway, I don't rank classes I'm unfamiliar with, so there's a lot that aren't on there. I figured there's enough of a guideline anyway, so it's not too hard to figure out where other classes go. Though I've got some updating to do, and some folks have actually put in some very good information on other classes. I keep meaning to make updates, but then I get distracted...
    I think adding the missing classes and significant ACFs (like Mystic Ranger) would be awesome. You could also make an extended 'why is each class on it's tier', with thoughts for each class (maybe using the three example situations you point out in the thread). I believe most of the community here would be willing to help with that (I would, at least).

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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    I just wanted to point out that The Giant subscribes to the tier system too. (panel 5)
    Make of that what you will.

    Also, there are some psionic classes missing so I will fill that gap as I am wont to do. I'll try to classify them here, with some brief reasoning.

    Base Ardents: T3 (Mantles have weak power choices and many have gaps at certain levels.)
    Mind's Eye Ardents: T2 (Mantle gaps can be filled, poor powers swapped out... plus, Dominant Ideal[!])
    Base Lurk: Mid-T4 (decent amount of power but unfocused. Lacks the damage potential of a Psywar, the skillmonkey potential of a Psyrogue or the casting potential of a Wilder.)
    Mind's Eye Lurk: High T4 (New augment lists help it specialize, but it still falls short at combat, skillmonkeying, tracking etc.)
    Psychic Rogue: T3 (Excels at skillmonkey role, remains useful when role is not needed e.g. combat.)
    Divine Mind: T5 (Suffers from many of the same problems as the paladin, and no mount to boot.)

    Feel free to amend the above, as the tier system is a community project after all.
    Last edited by Psyren; 2010-12-21 at 06:37 PM.
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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Quote Originally Posted by true_shinken View Post
    I think adding the missing classes and significant ACFs (like Mystic Ranger) would be awesome. You could also make an extended 'why is each class on it's tier', with thoughts for each class (maybe using the three example situations you point out in the thread). I believe most of the community here would be willing to help with that (I would, at least).
    I don't like bringing other people into something that major (and it would be major) because I get distracted and then stop posting and then I feel like I've let them down. So, I just don't (it's the same reason I don't do PbP anymore). But I do read what people say on the topic.

    But with that said, a bunch of people actually did make a bunch of threads just like what you're describing, and they were pretty darn good. They were titled things like "why Tier 5s are in tier 5" and went through every tier. There was some fine work in there.

    JaronK

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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Quote Originally Posted by JaronK View Post
    I have no problem with people re-posting it as long as they're not trying to claim it's their own work or something. It's easier to just have it in one place and have it linked from elsewhere. Though as a note, that was the old one that was linked... here's the slightly more up to date one: http://brilliantgameologists.com/boa...p?topic=5293.0
    Ah, lovely to know. I'll hold onto that link for the future. Also, good to know I won't be-

    With that said, I do enjoy a good defenestration.
    Woah now, let's not do anything crazy here... put that sphere down, if you'd be so kind.

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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Quote Originally Posted by true_shinken View Post
    I think adding the missing classes and significant ACFs (like Mystic Ranger) would be awesome.
    I still don't understand how that ACF comes up all the time, when dragon mag material is normally considered anathema around these parts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pechvarry View Post
    I still don't understand how that ACF comes up all the time, when dragon mag material is normally considered anathema around these parts.
    Well, the search for a +1 BAB/full casting/6 skills per level class has been going on since time immemorial, and finally the Mystic Ranger delivered it to us for levels 1-10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    In-combat healing is notably inefficient in the action economy, even when it's faster than a small Fast Healing.
    I finished your sentence for you. An aura, being passive, ignores the "in-combat healing is inefficient" diatribe. Its like a weaker version of persisted lesser vigor.

    And the breath weapon isn't "mediocre" as PC breath weapons go. 10d6 is about as good as you're getting without fivefold, and it is the most powerful one that can take metabreath feats by RAI(that I'm aware of).

    To get tier 5, you need to either:

    A)Be wholly focused on one thing, to the point that what you're capable of doing might often be uncalled for(Read: Fighter, Healer)

    B)"So unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything"

    They're very explicitly not A, since they've got healing, support, some face-monkey(6/10 of them get bluff as a class skill), can get decent listen/spot checks(aura), alternate movement modes at level 3, wings at level 19, immunity to an element of damage(which can be useful).

    And for the "mastering anything" qualification, I suppose that depends on how valuable a clinging lingering entangling maximized 10d6 breath weapon is, 1/encounter, or 2/encounter with Dragonborn.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    I don't think infinite effects (such as healing) warrant an increase in tier - if they did, then the warlock would be ranked a lot higher. Tiers are primarily about versatility, not about raw power.
    That depends entirely on the tier.
    Last edited by Godskook; 2010-12-21 at 07:07 PM.
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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Quote Originally Posted by Godskook View Post
    I finished your sentence for you. An aura, being passive, ignores the "in-combat healing is inefficient" diatribe. Its like a weaker version of persisted lesser vigor.
    Which is fine for topping people off (oh wait, the aura doesn't do that), but for keeping people in the fight it's rather minor. A Dragon Shaman doesn't need actions for the aura, true, but then again it would have actions to spend since it's only real offense, nay, only real combat option, comes online only every 1d4 rounds.
    Quote Originally Posted by Godskook View Post
    And the breath weapon isn't "mediocre" as PC breath weapons go. 10d6 is about as good as you're getting without fivefold, and it is the most powerful one that can take metabreath feats by RAI(that I'm aware of).
    Without metabreaths, it's rather incidental for something that can only be used once or twice a combat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Godskook View Post
    To get tier 5, you need to either:

    A)Be wholly focused on one thing, to the point that what you're capable of doing might often be uncalled for(Read: Fighter, Healer)

    B)"So unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything"

    They're very explicitly not A, since they've got healing, support, some face-monkey(6/10 of them get bluff as a class skill), can get decent listen/spot checks(aura), alternate movement modes at level 3, wings at level 19, immunity to an element of damage.
    They got healing that's mostly irrelevant in combat, and can't top people off between combats, their "support" is limited to standing there and providing a single, very minor buff, they get one relevant skill for face (and it's not diplomacy), poor skill points, and their detection abilities are on the level of a fighter (cross class skills, no skillpoints, no wisdom synergy) +5 at level 20. Permanent spider climb can be handy, but really, that's not much.

    I'm sorry, but I'm just not seeing it. They're much like monk, in that they have some nifty tools, but none of them are that relevant.
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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Fast Healing up to half isn't what I'd call "in combat healing." That's just not going to be enough to matter.

    JaronK

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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Quote Originally Posted by JaronK View Post
    Fast Healing up to half isn't what I'd call "in combat healing." That's just not going to be enough to matter.

    JaronK
    Chief would like a word with you. Passive auto-stabilization is a big enough feature to warrant mentioning. Its not 'great', but its solid for a tier 4 or 5 class.
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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Quote Originally Posted by Godskook View Post
    Chief would like a word with you. Passive auto-stabilization is a big enough feature to warrant mentioning. Its not 'great', but its solid for a tier 4 or 5 class.
    If you're still "in combat" you can still be CDG'ed and that ability won't matter. If the danger is past, you're not in combat.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    First, please don't start threads with ideas you don't support just to see what reactions you get. That's almost the definition of trolling.

    Second, the whole "blue text" thing is not a forum rule or even a recommended procedure. If someone wants to do it in their own posts, fine, but everyone should stop telling people that they "need to" or "should have" posted in blue just because they're being sarcastic/ironic/whatever.

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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    What Psy said. Also, Chief was 3rd level. 3rd. Level.

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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    My point, which was admittedly very unstated, was if there were a Dragon Shaman in Chief's party, then no combat actions(standard/move) would've been needed to stabilize him. A significant improvement on the method they used, which was to roll heal checks, and would've still been competitive with actually casting CLWs or Lay on hands on him instead.
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    Default Re: D&D 3.5 tiers

    Quote Originally Posted by Lateral View Post
    What Psy said. Also, Chief was 3rd level. 3rd. Level.
    Erm, so what? Tiers don't exactly care about level.

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