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    Default The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    No matter how high level a Barbarian or Rogue get, picturing them being able to heal the injuries/afflictions of others for instance, or raise the dead, strains disbelief.
    THE GUY AT THE GYM FALLACY: Or, People Can't Fly


    Anybody that accepts the tier system, or even anybody who has played Dungeons And Dragons 3.0, 3.5 or 3.P past 10th level can agree: If you're a mundane, you suck. Spells are where it's at. And if you can't cast spells, you'd better have powers. And if you have neither of those, you should at least be able to bind vestiges, or use strikes, or have some other wacky ability.

    When I say mundane, I mean classes like the barbarian, the fighter, the rogue, the scout, the samurai... and even the monk for the most part. Hell, besides spellcasting, ranger fits as well. What do all of these classes have in common?

    They do things we can do. Not that we can do them as well. We can jump; they can jump 50 feet. We can shoot a bow; they can shoot a man at 500 yards with a crooked sight. We can swim; they can swim across the ocean. You know... maybe if the guy doing laps at the gym could.

    This mindset forms the core of the Guy at the Gym fallacy. Because they do things that we can do, they cannot do things we cannot do. It's that simple!

    Why this is a problem
    Because mundanes are underpowered. You can only get so far in D&D without the ability to tell reality to sit down and shut up. Even initiators need three blatantly supernatural schools in order to be effective martial combatants. Simply put, supernatural abilities give you options, options that come from being able to do things that the guy at the gym cannot.

    Imagine if I tried to make a class based on the wandering troubadour of our middle ages. Well, take the bard to start. Then cut out spells. And finally, cut out all of the supernatural or spell-like bardic music abilities (which is all of them). There, now we have a reasonable approximation of how bards work... at least the bards you'd find at a gym. Except that I don't think any Trobairitz actually used magical devices, so let's take that off the skill list for a finishing touch.

    When this fallacy applies
    If somebody is playing a core-only 3.5 game, then learning about Guy At The Gym won't impact their game except maybe as an incidental introduction to the tier system. The main uses are:
    • To defend and explain the "magicness" of certain martial classes (Tome of Battle in particular)
    • As a defense and guide of homebrew mixing "magic" with "mundane/martial"

    Note that in general, this assumes the players want a tier higher than 5 as their balance point. Tier 3 has been standard in my experience. Thus the fallacy compares tier 5 characters like the fighter to tier 3 characters - the first tier at which "mundane need not apply", which coincidentally is the tier known for power and versatility without breaking the game.

    People are welcome to, instead, nerf every class down to tier4-5 if they like. But they should be aware that their party will be unable to battle encounters of normal CRs except in a minority of circumstances, because those tiers lack power and/or versatility.

    Why this fallacy doesn't even make sense
    Mundanes in D&D do things gym rats can't dream of already! Imagine your local weight lifter running 80 feet and stabbing an armored knight multiple times within six seconds. Imagine him firing arrows at a rate of nearly 1 per second and still reliably hitting targets 100 yards away. That's not just impossible, that's past legolas impossible. That's legend-tier archery. So why is he unable to heal his wounds, even when HP can be considered abstract enough to mean "combat vigor" or "fighting spirit"?

    Here is an example of how not to do hit points: "The axe swings into the barbarian's forehead. The blow would've cleaved a lesser man's skull clear in two, but his finely honed forehead muscles deflected it." Here is another example of how not to do hit points: "The axe swings into the barbarian's forehead. The blow would've killed a lesser man, but he was too enraged to notice half of his head missing."
    In other words, for nearly every justification of why mundanes can't do something, there's equally valid fluff for why it makes sense without magic. I made a class that's so genre savvy he can spot illusions by "what doesn't make dramatic sense." How is that less reasonable than a man being fast enough and buff enough to take out a small army? How is that less reasonable than a man with a sword running 20 feet, jumping in the air, and his landing strike cleaving a house in two?

    Note that you don't have to have justifications like this - but they help if you want to keep "magicless flavor" on the mundanes. The alternative is, of course, to rule that the abilities are magical - and simply say that everybody picks up a little bit of magic as they adventure.

    Examples of the fallacy in action
    These examples taken from the "Stupid House Rules" thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Rangers don't get spellcasting, because Aragorn didn't cast spells.
    Quote Originally Posted by Raendyn View Post
    I've seen Natural 1's (after several checks), end up droping your sword, falling down, attacking someone else.
    [50,000 other fumble house rules omitted for brevity. Could some guy at the gym swing a sword all day and never drop it? Therefore, a fighter can't.]

    Quote Originally Posted by Hyena View Post
    Swordsages and monks hurt themselves and take 1d6 damage while punching "hard" stuff. Like a wooden chest.
    On the other side of the fence, guys at the gym don't cast spells. So why would spellcasters suffer any of the gym rat's unreasonable limitations? As you read these, consider: Have you ever seen a spell that needed multiple pages to be written? Have you personally ever seen a seventh-level wizard unable to permanently de-magic an item?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaris View Post
    Spells, regardless of their level, only take up 1 page in the Spellbook each.
    Quote Originally Posted by Raendyn View Post
    I've seen DM's allowing the wizards to know EVERY spell, cause thats how spellbooks work...
    Quote Originally Posted by Big Fau View Post
    • Spells do not have foci or material components. At all. His reason: Because everyone gains Eschew Materials at 1st level if they are a spellcaster, and that completely bypasses the material component.
    • Targeted Dispel Magic can act like MDJ if used on a single item. His reason: It made sense because magic works better if you focus it.
    Conclusion
    In a better balanced game, things like this wouldn't be necessary. That's because a fit dude with a sword and a bow (a few arrows wouldn't hurt) could be as versatile and effective as anybody else. Unfortunately, people - including the writers of the player's handbook - have decided that it wouldn't make sense for the fighter (from the player's handbook, filed under F, after D for Druid) to be able to teleport, or heal, or turn invisible, or break the action economy in any way other than iterative attacks. Guys at the gym hit things with sticks, duh.

    If you want a martial class to be interesting to play, the only real option in D&D as it exists is to give them abilities normally considered under the purview of spells. Whether these are actual spells is up to you. Tome of battle is a good example of many abilities, largely extraordinary and occasionally supernatural, that make a martial class less one-trick and more versatile by application of abilities generally though of as magical.

    If the goal is an internally balanced party, the other alternative is that nobody (or everybody) plays nonmagical martial classes. That works as well, but it rings far weaker to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by nedz View Post
    Player 1: "My character is an Artist. I make a quick sketch of the suspect"
    DM: "Make a skill check"
    Player 2: "I cast Silent Image to create a likeness of the suspect."
    DM: "OK"
    Thoughts?

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    I think I'll just clap, thanks.

    *clap clap*

    but we really need more abilities for fighters. like an ability for the fighters to like, grab the entire rest of the party then leap to wherever they need to go- as in, leap from one town, straight over a mountain and land in the other town. or possibly even leap to other planes through sheer strength and focus.
    My Fan Fiction:
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    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    It may be stating the obvious...but thank you.

    Thank you.

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    Imagine your local weight lifter running 80 feet and stabbing an armored knight multiple times within six seconds.
    Premise is preposterous. Followers of Brodin forsake cardio, as it prevents the gainz.
    I can do a thousand now.

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    That's not a fallacy on Psyren's part, that's simply knowledge of the power sets available to those character classes and acknowledgement of the general tone and flavor of the types of powers made available to different archetypes by convention. Technically the rogue due to access to UMD could kludge something there, but that specific use of UMD isn't going to be what is typically associated with rogues.

    edit: I'm all for changing up business as usual and going against convention, especially with regards to giving "mundanes" nice things, but I probably won't give a barbarian a unique power to raise the dead. I'd honestly prefer to go to something more along the lines of rituals for resurrection anyway, since making it the schtick of a single character kinda screws things if that's the character who gets offed.
    Last edited by Coidzor; 2013-09-13 at 12:22 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Keld Denar View Post
    +3 Girlfriend is totally unoptimized. You are better off with a +1 Keen Witty girlfriend and then appling Greater Magic Make-up to increase her enhancement bonus.
    Homebrew
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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Coidzor View Post
    That's not a fallacy on Psyren's part, that's simply knowledge of the power sets available to those character classes and acknowledgement of the general tone and flavor of the types of powers made available to different archetypes by convention. Technically the rogue due to access to UMD could kludge something there, but that specific use of UMD isn't going to be what is typically associated with rogues.
    I didn't mean to pick on Psyren. The quote was just too close to the fallacy for me to pass it up.

    I'm sure Psyren is an upstanding member of his community and pays his taxes mid-February. If I ever meet him in real life, I will be happy to buy him a beer, and/or tea and biscuits, depending on nationality.

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    I'll bite.

    Quote Originally Posted by bekeleven View Post
    THE GUY AT THE GYM FALLACY: Or, People Can't Fly

    Anybody that accepts the tier system, or even anybody who has played Dungeons And Dragons 3.0, 3.5 or 3.P past 10th level can agree: If you're a mundane, you suck. Spells are where it's at. And if you can't cast spells, you'd better have powers. And if you have neither of those, you should at least be able to bind vestiges, or use strikes, or have some other wacky.

    When I say mundane, I mean classes like the barbarian, the fighter, the rogue, the scout, the samurai... and even the monk for the most part. Hell, besides spellcasting, ranger fits as well. What do all of these classes have in common?

    They do things we can do. Not that we can do them as well. We can jump; they can jump 50 feet. We can shoot a bow; they can shoot a man at 500 yards with a crooked sight. We can swim; they can swim across the ocean. You know... maybe if the guy doing laps at the gym could.

    This mindset forms the core of the Guy at the Gym fallacy. Because they do things that we can do, they cannot do things we cannot do. It's that simple!
    You're on to something, but you're mis-identifying the problem.

    You list a bunch of "trans-mundane" things that a high-level fighter-type could do that the Guy at the Gym couldn't because we have laws of physics. (You know what, let's just call them superpowers.)

    Most spells don't have any logical relation to the fighter-type's concept. LEgendary warriors should have warrior-type superpowers.

    Why this is a problem
    Because mundanes are underpowered. You can only get so far in D&D without the ability to tell reality to sit down and shut up. Even initiators need three blatantly supernatural schools in order to be effective martial combatants.
    What you're saying is a funhouse mirror way of saying that "casters (especially high-level casters) are overpowered."

    Simply put, supernatural abilities give you options, options that come from being able to do things that the guy at the gym cannot.

    Why this doesn't even make sense
    Mundanes in D&D do things gym rats can't dream of already! Imagine your local weight lifter running 80 feet and stabbing an armored knight multiple times within six seconds. Imagine him firing arrows at a rate of 1 per second and still reliably hitting targets 100 yards away. That's not just impossible, that's past legolas impossible. That's legend-tier archery. So why is he unable to heal his wounds, even when HP can be considered abstract enough to mean "combat vigor" or "fighting spirit"?
    So he's fighting, using his combat vigor, and then after a while, he pulls out another six-pack of combat vigor? That doesn't really make much sense. IT doesn't fit their theme.

    In other words, for nearly every justification of why mundanes can't do something, there's equally valid fluff for why it makes sense without magic. I made a class that's so genre savvy he can spot illusions by "what doesn't make dramatic sense." How is that less reasonable than a man being fast enough and buff enough to take out a small army? How is that less reasonable than a man with a sword running 20 feet, jumping in the air, and his landing strike cleaving a house in two?
    It's not. If your Genresavvyist (swashbuckler? bard? whatever) is well done, he'll have abilities that fit in his theme and source of power.

    But he shouldn't have superpowers that don't relate to being genre-savvy. He shouldn't be able to fall from space and survive like a high-level barbarian, or shoot fire from his hands. He sSHOULD be able to find secret doors and detect magic because those are always where they are because Plot.

    You want to argue that a high-level thieves should be able to be flat-out invisible? I buy that. Fits their theme. Yes, they're so good at hiding and being stealthy that they can walk through a crowded marketplace unseen. In game-mechanic terms, I could see feats that give them Invisibility, Silence, Knock, Darkness, Spider Climb. They have such keen eye for detail that they can Detect Magic, Detect Invisible. Improved Critical on sneak attacks? Sure.

    You want to say that they should be able to fly over a cornfield? No, that's stupid.

    Note that you don't have to have justifications like this - but they help if you want to keep "magicless flavor" on the mundanes.
    Without flavor, what are we doing playing D&D? If you want to stack incompatible abilities on top of each other without regard for whether it makes sense, get out a Munchkin deck.

    [quote]Examples of the fallacy in action
    These examples taken from the "Stupid House Rules" thread.

    Some of these I have individual issues with.

    [50,000 other fumble house rules omitted for brevity. Could some guy at the gym swing a sword all day and never drop it?]

    Yeah, probably. But maybe it's different when nine feet, 350 pounds of ogre which has never seen a toothbrush is swinging a 7 foot axe at him.

    On the other side of the fence, guys at the gym don't cast spells. So why would spellcasters suffer any of the gym rat's unreasonable limitations?
    There's a fairness argument that if there's a fumble/critical mechanic for mundanes, there should be one for casters. Critical--free spell, fumble--spell backfires for damages to the caster.

    Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Rangers don't get spellcasting, because Aragorn didn't cast spells.


    I'm not really a fan of fighter-types casting spells, but then again I see the ranger as a rogue subtype--skill monkey with specialized combat abilities. And like the thief I talked about above, high-level rangers make sense having nature-related abilities that have spell equivalents. (Most of the druid list, basically.)

    Conclusion
    In a better balanced game, things like this wouldn't be necessary. That's because a fit dude with a sword and a bow (a few arrows wouldn't hurt) could be as versatile and effective as anybody else.
    No, because in reality, you can't develop all skills and talents equally. If you don't pick one sphere to be good at, you have to pretty much suck at everything. A fit dude who has put in the time to become proficient with a sword and a bow hasn't had the time to put in the study to figure out how to use magic to "tell reality to go jump in a lake." He has to wait a few levels before he has the skills to grab reality, make a grapple check and stick a knife to its neck and dictate terms.

    Unfortunately, people - including the writers of the player's handbook - have decided that it wouldn't make sense for the fighter (from the player's handbook, filed under F, after D for Druid) to be able to teleport, or heal, or turn invisible, or break the action economy in any way other than iterative attacks. Guys at the gym hit things with sticks, duh.
    In the real world, we make choices. If you decide to major in economics, you can't also major in film study. OK, you could double major, but the point is that there are tradeoffs.

    This is fantasy roleplaying. The first question I ask newbie roleplayers is "Do you want your guy to be strong, to be magic, or to be sneaky?" If they say "all of the above," I have to explain that if they try that, they're not going to be especially good at any of them. (See Nale/Elan.)

    If the goal is an internally balanced party, the other alternative is that nobody (or everybody) plays martial classes. That works as well, but it rings far weaker to me.
    Or de-power the high-level casters, so that the sizable damage that the fighter-types are doing matters again.
    Last edited by johnbragg; 2013-09-13 at 12:25 AM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    I'm not sure if this count as a "fallacy".

    Also it seems more like a Conan thing... but The Conan Problem doesn't have nearly as much of a ring to it.

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    While maybe the exact example isn't something I think a Rogue would do....fitting through impossibly tight spaces, turning invisible (or maybe just hiding so well that you can't see them despite...looking at them), escaping out of situations with no explicable reason (like Houdini style ****), running straight up ****ing walls or trees, sticking to ceilings, hitting vitals from ridiculous distances, looking like other people (fooling even their closes friends), all to successfully infiltrate the MOST well defended fortress and find all of their dirty little secrets, are EXACTLY what I expect from a rogue in a high fantasy game.

    Ninja is not a class, it's a specialization of the broad thing we call Rogue. So is "thief acrobat," assassin, master spy, or other generally sneaky ****. So why doesn't the superclass Rogue get cool things?

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    So he's fighting, using his combat vigor, and then after a while, he pulls out another six-pack of combat vigor? That doesn't really make much sense. IT doesn't fit their theme.
    Sure it does. How many times have you seen a movie where the good guy gets his ass kicked, only to dig deep, find that thing worth living for, and proceed to return the favor ten fold? It's very thematic.
    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    But he shouldn't have superpowers that don't relate to being genre-savvy. He shouldn't be able to fall from space and survive like a high-level barbarian
    Real-life human beings have performed similar feats. The human body is remarkably resilient.
    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    This is fantasy roleplaying. The first question I ask newbie roleplayers is "Do you want your guy to be strong, to be magic, or to be sneaky?" If they say "all of the above," I have to explain that if they try that, they're not going to be especially good at any of them. (See Nale/Elan.)
    And you would be lying. Totemists can do all of the above (though maybe not all on the same day), and be very good at them. Wizards as well, if they gish (not something for a newbie to really try). A bardblade does all three just fine, if he wants to.

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    You're on to something, but you're mis-identifying the problem.

    You list a bunch of "trans-mundane" things that a high-level fighter-type could do that the Guy at the Gym couldn't because we have laws of physics. (You know what, let's just call them superpowers.)

    Most spells don't have any logical relation to the fighter-type's concept. LEgendary warriors should have warrior-type superpowers.
    Glad to see we're on the same page so far.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    What you're saying is a funhouse mirror way of saying that "casters (especially high-level casters) are overpowered."
    The two are essentially equivalent. The difference is small but crucial, mainly that most groups I've played with find tier 5 boring. Not having options is considered a failed build, essentially.

    An all-commoner party is underpowered. Conversely, this means that a Samurai is relatively overpowered. But more people would want to play the samurai.

    Do you see why I phrased it as what people think of as purely mundane is mechanically underpowered?

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    So he's fighting, using his combat vigor, and then after a while, he pulls out another six-pack of combat vigor? That doesn't really make much sense. IT doesn't fit their theme.
    Again, this isn't exactly a guide on what to do with the fighter class in the SRD. Rather, it's a guide on how "martial classes" in general should be treated - classes without explicit magical fluff. It's a response to people calling tome of battle dumb. It's a suggestion for homebrew.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    It's not. If your Genresavvyist (swashbuckler? bard? whatever) is well done, he'll have abilities that fit in his theme and source of power.

    But he shouldn't have superpowers that don't relate to being genre-savvy. He shouldn't be able to fall from space and survive like a high-level barbarian, or shoot fire from his hands. He sSHOULD be able to find secret doors and detect magic because those are always where they are because Plot.
    Erm, I agree. I tried to build him high-power but, for a mundane, versatile (I'd call the finished product high tier4 or low tier3). I didn't give him the ability to cast all spells ever. Other tier3s, even full casters like beguilers, can't do that. No tier 3 can fall from space using anything short of fire resist, and high hit points (for reference, my class had D10).

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    You want to argue that a high-level thieves should be able to be flat-out invisible? I buy that. Fits their theme. Yes, they're so good at hiding and being stealthy that they can walk through a crowded marketplace unseen. In game-mechanic terms, I could see feats that give them Invisibility, Silence, Knock, Darkness, Spider Climb. They have such keen eye for detail that they can Detect Magic, Detect Invisible. Improved Critical on sneak attacks? Sure.

    You want to say that they should be able to fly over a cornfield? No, that's stupid.
    This is what I am saying. I'm sorry if I didn't make that clear.

    For reference, no tier3 class has fly on their spell list (although factotums, wildshape rangers, warlocks, binders, and likely others could manage).

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    Without flavor, what are we doing playing D&D? If you want to stack incompatible abilities on top of each other without regard for whether it makes sense, get out a Munchkin deck.
    There are two ways to build a fighter-type martial class with abilities like true seeing, freedom of movement, fast healing, etc.:

    1. Justify their powers using mundane powers (like Ex Hide in Plain Sights, or my Genre Savvy example).
    2. Make them explicitly magical (Factotums or Shadowdancers).

    That's all I'm saying. I'm giving DMs and homebrewers a toolbox for if they like the first option. "Here is why you can justify powers generally though to be supernatural on martial characters. Alternatively, just say that all player characters eventually pick up some magic."

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    Yeah, probably. But maybe it's different when nine feet, 350 pounds of ogre which has never seen a toothbrush is swinging a 7 foot axe at him.
    That was my point, actually. Because a guy at the gym would drop his sword, so should fighters. That's the fallacy.

    And to address fumbles in a general way - 99% of all fumble mechanics punish mundanes over casters, even with 9-tiered safeguards to prevent it. By the time the results are truly equalized, the rules are a byzantine mess, and it's a lot of effort to go through for a rule that punishes PCs more than monsters in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    No, because in reality, you can't develop all skills and talents equally. If you don't pick one sphere to be good at, you have to pretty much suck at everything. A fit dude who has put in the time to become proficient with a sword and a bow hasn't had the time to put in the study to figure out how to use magic to "tell reality to go jump in a lake." He has to wait a few levels before he has the skills to grab reality, make a grapple check and stick a knife to its neck and dictate terms.

    In the real world, we make choices. If you decide to major in economics, you can't also major in film study. OK, you could double major, but the point is that there are tradeoffs.
    Which brings us back to: Martial characters suck. All of the abilities they have are 100%, strictly, unarguably worse than those of, for instance, tome of battle classes, factotums, or beguilers. If you say "pick one sphere to be good at. Your options are the sphere of versatility and effectiveness, or the sphere of being a load on your party" you are presenting trap choices. This is what the PHB did, and that's what I'm against. Explaining this is the goal of, for instance, the tier system. (note that my arguments are not original - Even the name "the guy at the gym" I've seen around somewhere, I've just never seen it stated concisely).

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    This is fantasy roleplaying. The first question I ask newbie roleplayers is "Do you want your guy to be strong, to be magic, or to be sneaky?" If they say "all of the above," I have to explain that if they try that, they're not going to be especially good at any of them. (See Nale/Elan.)
    Actually, no. A tier 3 class is better at all of those than a tier 5 class. Nearly all tier3 classes are in some way magical.

    On the other side of balance, the definition of tier 1 is: "Capable of doing absolutely everything, often better than classes that specialize in that thing." But I wasn't dealing with tier 1s in this post. This post only really deals with classes up to tier 3, the point at which nearly everybody is doing something magical.

    I hope that explains what I was trying to say a little better. Simply put, we agree a lot more than we disagree. I wrote the majority of this assuming an implicit balace point higher than tier 5. Because according to myself and most people I know, tier 5 is not fun to play. And tier 3 is fun. It's a ton of fun. But it's also "mundanes need not apply."

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    bekeleven: If you want a martial class to be interesting to play, the only real option in D&D as it exists is to give them abilities normally considered under the purview of spells. Whether these are actual spells is up to you. Tome of battle is a good example of many abilities, largely extraordinary and occasionally supernatural, that make a martial class less one-trick and more versatile by application of abilities generally though of as magical.

    If the goal is an internally balanced party, the other alternative is that nobody (or everybody) plays martial classes. That works as well, but it rings far weaker to me.
    I can find another way to make them interesting. Give the mundanes a few more things to do and then severaly nerf the casters.

    That way noone has to feel left out and suspension of disbelief is not broken.

    bekeleven: Why this is a problem
    Because mundanes are underpowered.
    Or maybe the casters are overpowered?

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Equilibria View Post
    I can find another way to make them interesting. Give the mundanes a few more things to do and then severaly nerf the casters.
    The problem is that you're either hitting everybody above tier 5 with a really huge nerf stick, or... well, or you're still doing that, and all of your adventures and encounters are extremely painfully contrived.

    Quote Originally Posted by Equilibria View Post
    Or maybe the casters are overpowered?
    I've edited the OP to explain why I assume tier 3 as a balance point (hint: because tier 5 is mechanically boring and can't fight encounters of its own CR). In my response to johnbragg I explain a bit further.

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    This is fantasy roleplaying. The first question I ask newbie roleplayers is "Do you want your guy to be strong, to be magic, or to be sneaky?" If they say "all of the above," I have to explain that if they try that, they're not going to be especially good at any of them. (See Nale/Elan.)
    Or you could just give them a druid, and give them simultaneous competence in all three aspects simultaneously. Sneakiness is a little more distant than the other two, but it's doable, particularly if you work at it. Small wild shape forms can get you pretty far. Alternatively, you could go cleric, which can hit all three without stretching. Alternatively alternatively, bards are actually pretty sweet, and factotums are even better.

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    Quote Originally Posted by bekeleven View Post
    Glad to see we're on the same page so far.

    The two are essentially equivalent. The difference is small but crucial, mainly that most groups I've played with find tier 5 boring. Not having options is considered a failed build, essentially.
    I don't know. I think part of it is that my knowledge is somewhat obsolete--I haven't gamed regularly since 2009, and we didn't use much splatbook. Frankly, I don't know what the majority of the classes in this list are.
    http://www.brilliantgameologists.com.../?topic=1002.0

    An all-commoner party is underpowered. Conversely, this means that a Samurai is relatively overpowered. But more people would want to play the samurai.

    Do you see why I phrased it as what people think of as purely mundane is mechanically underpowered?
    Yes, I do. But I don't know that the best way to handle it is to power up the mundanes--I think that's how we ended up with those cheesy-sounding Tier 3 classes in the first place. That just creates an arms race, since the caster-classes take a look at the powers and abilities and say "That's pretty nice, I'm going to start researching that as a spell."

    Again, this isn't exactly a guide on what to do with the fighter class in the SRD. Rather, it's a guide on how "martial classes" in general should be treated - classes without explicit magical fluff. It's a response to people calling tome of battle dumb. It's a suggestion for homebrew.

    There are two ways to build a fighter-type martial class with abilities like true seeing, freedom of movement, fast healing, etc.:

    1. Justify their powers using mundane powers (like Ex Hide in Plain Sights, or my Genre Savvy example).
    2. Make them explicitly magical (Factotums or Shadowdancers).
    No, I think there's another option--make an argument that it's an outgrowth of their combat focus, and maybe limit it accordingly. When he's in combat, he's in his element and can do amazing things. A feat that allows a high-level fighter to see through illusions as combat went on? That would be a great feat, and would make all kinds of sense. Walking down a dungeon corridor with no enemies in sight? Not as much.

    Fast healing? That makes sense for a combat-focused character. (I think it makes more sense than giving the fighter the equivalent of a Cure Wounds spell).

    That's all I'm saying. I'm giving DMs and homebrewers a toolbox for if they like the first option. "Here is why you can justify powers generally though to be supernatural on martial characters. Alternatively, just say that all player characters eventually pick up some magic."
    I like the last approach. Magic is shaping reality to your focused willpower, and high level fighters start doing that through their combat abilities. High level rangers do that with plants and animals. Rogues do that with stealth and subtlety. ETc.

    Which brings us back to: Martial characters suck. All of the abilities they have are 100%, strictly, unarguably worse than those of, for instance, tome of battle classes, factotums, or beguilers.
    So if those classes fight as well, or almost as well, as fighter-types, while casting like a bard (or maybe better), then those classes are garbage.

    If you say "pick one sphere to be good at. Your options are the sphere of versatility and effectiveness, or the sphere of being a load on your party" you are presenting trap choices. This is what the PHB did, and that's what I'm against.
    That's not my experience with Core 3.0 or 3.5, but I never played at really high levels where weapon damage becomes trivial.

    But it certainly sounds like 3.5 + Widely Accepted Splatbooks did that.

    Explaining this is the goal of, for instance, the tier system. (note that my arguments are not original - Even the name "the guy at the gym" I've seen around somewhere, I've just never seen it stated concisely).
    I think there is a dual problem. The original problem was that casters had an advantage over noncasters. The "fix" made the problem worse--base classes that added casting to mundanes. Which just created classes that still weren't as good as the elite casters, while making the martial classes redundant.

    I think the answer was to rein in the casters.

    Actually, no. A tier 3 class is better at all of those than a tier 5 class. Nearly all tier3 classes are in some way magical.
    And they still fight at least as well as clerics, right? Horsecrap.

    On the other side of balance, the definition of tier 1 is: "Capable of doing absolutely everything, often better than classes that specialize in that thing." But I wasn't dealing with tier 1s in this post. This post only really deals with classes up to tier 3, the point at which nearly everybody is doing something magical.
    Yeah, if the choices are "guy who's really good with a sword" vs "guy who's pretty good with a sword and pretty good with magic and has other good skills" then yeah. Without buying Tome of Battle, I don't know if those classes should have been prestige classes or just should have been chucked. But they certainly don't sound like base classes, which is what they are.

    I hope that explains what I was trying to say a little better. Simply put, we agree a lot more than we disagree.
    Like I said at the beginning, You're on to something, but you're mis-identifying the problem.

    I wrote the majority of this assuming an implicit balace point higher than tier 5. Because according to myself and most people I know, tier 5 is not fun to play.
    Paladin is listed as Tier 5. Something has gone horribly wrong when the conventional wisdom is "Paladins just don't get enough sparkly shiny toys."

    And tier 3 is fun. It's a ton of fun. But it's also "mundanes need not apply."
    I think part of the problem is stupid classes. Part of the problem is weakness in the design of the base casters. But is part of it also playing at levels where weapon damage and armor worn are trivial?

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    I always found it interesting that the crux of fantasy is an evil wizard is up to no good, making trouble in the neighborhood and such, but every 'Obviously BBEG' class features at least some spell casting.

    Either they knew spell casting was above par, and never figured to allow fighter types a mean to inhibit it, or they just didn't consider the ramifications of allowing spell casters on both sides of the DM screen.

    I was really intrigued at the idea of NPC classes when I heard of it, I thought it was how they were going to balance a Big Bad against a similar level party. Instead, I got commoners, warriors, experts and nobles.
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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    Quote Originally Posted by bekeleven View Post
    Why this fallacy doesn't even make sense
    Mundanes in D&D do things gym rats can't dream of already! Imagine your local weight lifter running 80 feet and stabbing an armored knight multiple times within six seconds. Imagine him firing arrows at a rate of nearly 1 per second and still reliably hitting targets 100 yards away. That's not just impossible, that's past legolas impossible. That's legend-tier archery. So why is he unable to heal his wounds, even when HP can be considered abstract enough to mean "combat vigor" or "fighting spirit"?
    This is the part of your post that doesn't quite work for me. You already acknowledged earlier in your post that our ideal mundane would be able to do the kinds of things that we think of as possible, just way better (at high levels, at least) than anybody in real life can do them. A pouncing barbarian is just another example of that stuff. And that's exactly as it should be.

    What I mean by "as it should be" is that the quote you have from Psyren at the beginning of your post isn't a fallacy. He hasn't misunderstood anything about D&D, or mis-applied any logic. He's just saying, essentially, "it's nice to be able to play a character who does realistic-ish stuff but is just a whole lot better at it than normal people, and fixes for mundanes that step outside that framework leave me feeling unsatisfied, because they don't feel mundane anymore." And, of course, the natural extension of that sentiment is, "it would be nice to be able to play a character like that and not suck."

    Quote Originally Posted by bekeleven View Post
    If you want a martial class to be interesting to play, the only real option in D&D as it exists is to give them abilities normally considered under the purview of spells.
    This is absolutely true, but it didn't have to be. Game systems, even fantasy combat simulation systems, exist where it isn't true. Mundanes are on par with normals in the Elder Scrolls games, for instance. And (somewhat) in Shadowrun.

    So, tl;dr, the sentiment you're arguing against isn't something that I think can properly be dismissed as a fallacy. It's just the wish that you could be The Guy at the Gym without sucking. You're right that 3.5 isn't really a good system for that. But the wish itself isn't fallacious; it's just a wish for how the system could have been different.

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    johnsbragg, you're shuffling goalposts a lot and it makes it hard to identify how to argue with you. Could you state your point so we can avoid the landslide of disconnected sound-byte refutes that are bound to start cropping up?

    So if those classes fight as well, or almost as well, as fighter-types, while casting like a bard (or maybe better), then those classes are garbage.
    Like this. By 'those classes', I assume you mean the T5's, which are not 'garbage' by any standard except that they're way worse than the T3's that bekeleven talked about. He explicitly said that those classes underperform relative to T3 classes, not that they're objectively bad (because this is a free form game and objective badness does not exist).

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    Honestly I'm fine with the idea of being so badass you tap into magic/reality warping, even if it's not the same way that a spellcaster taps into it, so I've never really understood the desire to be a badass on par with Gilgamesh while still being totally mundane.

    The idea of any high level character being "mundane" sticks in my craw as it is. That's part of why I like the idea from World of Prime where additional class levels are actually a supernatural thing in and of themselves.
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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    bekeleven: The problem is that you're either hitting everybody above tier 5 with a really huge nerf stick, or... well, or you're still doing that, and all of your adventures and encounters are extremely painfully contrived.
    Well maybe i should have explained myself better. I donīt think that the way to balance D&D is to up the mundanes to tier 1 and 2. I think itīs somewhere in the middle.

    Give the mundanes more stuff (but keep it sane, no jumping over a mountain) and nerf the casters so that they meet in the middle (tier 3-4).
    By doing this you might end up gimping the gishes so they should propably be looked over to.

    bekeleven: I've edited the OP to explain why I assume tier 3 as a balance point (hint: because tier 5 is mechanically boring and can't fight encounters of its own CR). In my response to johnbragg I explain a bit further.
    Oh, you must have changed it while i was posting cause i didnīt see that...

    It would seem that we are in complete agreement.

    I was just reacting to you saying that the only way to balance a party is to give the mundanes superpowers. I think they can become tier 3 by giving them more stuff and then nerfing the casters down to tier 3 also.

    But maybe this is just a matter of differing playstyles.

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Just to Browse View Post
    johnsbragg, you're shuffling goalposts a lot and it makes it hard to identify how to argue with you. Could you state your point so we can avoid the landslide of disconnected sound-byte refutes that are bound to start cropping up?
    OK. I guess my point or points are:
    1. I didn't find 3.5 to be broken.
    2. I think slapping magic-user-y abilities on fighter-types creates thematic incoherence.
    3. A lot of classes have crept in that tried to solve the problem of fighters not being as good as casters by letting casters fight, and those classes suck.
    4. The problem is that the high-level casters were and are overpowered.

    Like this. By 'those classes', I assume you mean the T5's, which are not 'garbage' by any standard except that they're way worse than the T3's that bekeleven talked about. He explicitly said that those classes underperform relative to T3 classes, not that they're objectively bad (because this is a free form game and objective badness does not exist).
    No, I mean the "Tier 3" classes. They're supposed to be on a level with the Bard, who was known for being a mediocre fighter, mediocre magic-user and mediocre thief. But it doesn't seem to have worked out that way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A_S View Post
    This is the part of your post that doesn't quite work for me. You already acknowledged earlier in your post that our ideal mundane would be able to do the kinds of things that we think of as possible, just way better (at high levels, at least) than anybody in real life can do them. A pouncing barbarian is just another example of that stuff. And that's exactly as it should be.

    What I mean by "as it should be" is that the quote you have from Psyren at the beginning of your post isn't a fallacy. He hasn't misunderstood anything about D&D, or mis-applied any logic. He's just saying, essentially, "it's nice to be able to play a character who does realistic-ish stuff but is just a whole lot better at it than normal people, and fixes for mundanes that step outside that framework leave me feeling unsatisfied, because they don't feel mundane anymore." And, of course, the natural extension of that sentiment is, "it would be nice to be able to play a character like that and not suck."


    This is absolutely true, but it didn't have to be. Game systems, even fantasy combat simulation systems, exist where it isn't true. Mundanes are on par with normals in the Elder Scrolls games, for instance. And (somewhat) in Shadowrun.

    So, tl;dr, the sentiment you're arguing against isn't something that I think can properly be dismissed as a fallacy. It's just the wish that you could be The Guy at the Gym without sucking. You're right that 3.5 isn't really a good system for that. But the wish itself isn't fallacious; it's just a wish for how the system could have been different.
    The sentiment that I'm arguing against is people saying that martial/mundane classes can't do interesting things because it doesn't make sense. In the words of hamishspence: Common sense and RAW are not exactly on speaking terms.

    In the first part, I note that the people complaining about, say, martial classes with invisibility/fast healing/etc. don't realize that mundane actions already "Strain disbelief" plenty. Why is a rogue with either of those abilities not "doing realistic-ish stuff but a whole lot better"?

    In the second part you quote, well... we agree 100%. That's why I was specifically addressing D&D 3.0 and related systems, and not elder scrolls games, D&D4, Shadowrun, Exalted, etc etc etc...

    The game is fundamentally poorly designed from the get-go. Tome of Battle is essentially an apology to martial classes for having started them off with fighters and paladins.

    Johnbragg, you may want to read why each class is in its tier. And as a high-level overview for all those "stupid classes":

    Wizards of the Coast, after publishing the core 3.5 books, could continue to add to the rules and player options through splatbooks. However, it's very hard to directly depower someone or something using another book. If you introduce one saying "all spells fail 20% of the time", then gaming groups (or individual people) that like spells simply won't use it. Therefore the solution was two-fold: first, to introduce options to increase power level of non-casters, and second, to introduce options to decrease power levels of casters.

    Behind door number 1 is primarily the Tome of Battle classes. They're classes that act as direct replacements to the fighter, paladin, barbarian, and rogue (with an alternative class feature to replace the monk's role as well). They are significantly more powerful, have many fun abilities that are largely nonmagical (they can dash, parry, flank better, etc.) as well as a few that are magical (short range teleport, fire swords, etc.) that are optional to use.

    Behind door number 2 are focused casters such as Dread Necromancers (necromancy), Beguilers (illusion), warmages (evocation), or healers (healing, and they're terrible, I probably shouldn't mention them). They do a few things that (for example) Wizards cannot, and are flavorful and have fun unique powers, but lack the overall world-altering power that comes with tier 1s. Mainly, this power consists of Gate/Planar Ally spells, Save-or-Lose spells (or lose-or-lose spells, which are worse), action economy abuse, and divination abuse.

    So inexperienced players say "I want to play the dread necromancer because I can be cooler and be a super undead user person!" A more experienced player might say "I want to play a dread necro because they can do a few fun things that wizards can't, and because I won't throw my party out of balance, which leads to things like player/dm hate, too much responsibility on my shoulders, other players not having fun, DM increasing challenge levels until the other players are useless, etc." So the only situation in which the focused casters don't help is experienced players being munchkin jerks, which is a RL issue that should be solved by talking to the player.

    Factotums, Warlocks, and others are mixtures or too complicated for this extremely simple summary.

    Incidentally, a core-only bard is a far lower tier 3 (maybe tier 4?), because they get so much power from non-core abilities like Dragonfire Inspiration.

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    Essentially it's the difference between "casters are OP" and "casters are OP, also fighters suck."
    Last edited by Coidzor; 2013-09-13 at 01:57 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Equilibria View Post
    Well maybe i should have explained myself better. I donīt think that the way to balance D&D is to up the mundanes to tier 1 and 2. I think itīs somewhere in the middle.

    Give the mundanes more stuff (but keep it sane, no jumping over a mountain) and nerf the casters so that they meet in the middle (tier 3-4).
    By doing this you might end up gimping the gishes so they should propably be looked over to.
    What's wrong with a Monk jumping over a mountain exactly? Duskblades can still Dimension Door, Beguiler can still Shadow Walk, Swordsage can "BALANCE ON THE SKY," but jumping really high/far is a problem?

    This is the problem the OP is trying to illustrate? What's wrong with IMPOSSIBLY TALENTED characters doing impossible things?

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    Quote Originally Posted by DarkSonic1337 View Post
    What's wrong with a Monk jumping over a mountain exactly? Duskblades can still Dimension Door, Beguiler can still Shadow Walk, Swordsage can "BALANCE ON THE SKY," but jumping really high/far is a problem?

    This is the problem the OP is trying to illustrate? What's wrong with IMPOSSIBLY TALENTED characters doing impossible things?
    Figuring out the time scale for it might be wonky and working out the trajectory would be a nightmare?

    Could definitely use an infusion of awesome in places.
    Last edited by Coidzor; 2013-09-13 at 02:20 AM.
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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    It occurs to me that some other examples of this fallacy would be the whole "Tome of Weeaboo Fightan' Magic" argument and also a whole lot of stuff with 4e. It seems to me that Wizards seemed to have realised some part of this fallacy over the years, and that led to the 4e philosophy of "Everyone has a little magic". Whether they succeeded at that or not is arguable, but at least the mundanes have more stuff they can do.

    As for the thing I mentioned with "Weeaboo Fightan' Magic", that's because the three big arguments I've seen against the Tome of Battle are:
    a)Too Anime!
    b)These classes are overpowered and/or replace ones I like!
    c)This isn't mundane, this is magic! Mundanes aren't allowed to do these things!

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    DarkSonic1337: What's wrong with a Monk jumping over a mountain exactly? Duskblades can still Dimension Door, Beguiler can still Shadow Walk, Swordsage can "BALANCE ON THE SKY," but jumping really high/far is a problem?

    This is the problem the OP is trying to illustrate? What's wrong with IMPOSSIBLY TALENTED characters doing impossible things?
    Whatīs wrong with it?

    Well for me itīs that it shatters my suspension of disbelief. While i do think that monks (and indeed other mundanes) should be able to do cool things i just think that being able to jump a mountain makes it the kind of game i donīt want to participate in.

    While i donīt have my books with me right now i canīt be sure, but doesnīt dimension door have a rather limited range... can a duskblade teleport over a mountain??

    While i donīt know much about the beguilers abilities i believe i mentioned in my post that i also wanted to nerf the casters. If shadow walk is the kind of spell that can be abused so that the mundanes are useless i think that should be nerfed as well.

    Anyway thatīs magic and as such should be able to do things that a mundane canīt. But nerf the power of magic and give the mundanes something that the casters canīt do.
    But for the love of all that is good... keep it non-magical. I really donīt like the idea that magic is the only way if you want to compete with casters.

    And regarding the swordsage... I never said that a monk being able to jump a building mountain in a single bound was the only thing that strained shattered my suspension of disbelief. To balance on the sky is equally dumb IMO and shouldnīt be allowed either.

    But if thatīs the kind of game you want to play go right on ahead.

    Thats why i ended my post by saying that this whole discussion is fundamentally a matter of preference.

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    The Monkey King, one of the most iconic monk-characters in the whole world, once jumped over a mountain.

    Except that it was the hand of the Gautama-Buddha, and the Monkey King ended under a heavy stone.

    Spoiler
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    Then again, it's not clear if the Monkey King really jumped over a mountain, was just hypnotized by the Buddha into believing he did that, or the Buddha manipulated reality to make the mountain into his hand at his whim.

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    Default Re: The Guy at the Gym Fallacy

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    OK. I guess my point or points are:
    1. I didn't find 3.5 to be broken.
    ...
    4. The problem is that the high-level casters were and are overpowered.
    See, that's a bit of a contradiction there. 3.5 is broken exactly _because_ full casters are OP. As for the "high-level", depends where you begin to count.

    No, I mean the "Tier 3" classes. They're supposed to be on a level with the Bard, who was known for being a mediocre fighter, mediocre magic-user and mediocre thief. But it doesn't seem to have worked out that way.
    I'm afraid you're "misunderestimating" the Bard a little here. Yeah, a PHB Bard is rather mediocre, but with some splatbook application he becomes a decent fighter, versatile caster and, above all, an excellent buffer (mainly due to Inspire Courage optimization).

    Then I guess the previous posts haven't quite made clear what ToB classes do, because most people here have the ToB and know what it's about. Those classes are not OP at all. There are the Crusader, the Swordsage and the Warblade. None of them get spellcasting, but each of them gets access to a number of "martial disciplines", which unlock "maneuvers" that improve your combat abilities. Those maneuvers are tiered in levels just like magic spells, and you need to ready (prepare) them like spells. The difference is that you can switch your readied maneuvers, and they also refresh easily so you can use them multiple times per day. Essentially you never run out for longer than one round.

    There are nine disciplines, and only two of them have a decidedly supernatural touch; one of these is fire- and the other shadow-themed, and both of them are available only to the Swordsage.
    * The SS has 3/4 BAB and a wide selection of maneuvers that make his fighting style somewhat rogue/monk/ninja-like. Actually, the SS is generally regarded as the better Ninja, which is why on these boards, we don't talk of "ninja-edits/posts" but of being/having "swordsaged" a post. =D
    * The Crusader is sort of a replacement to the Paladin, and his disciplines revolve primarily around Defending (preventing enemies from attacking your teammates) and Leading (giving bonuses to your teammates), with a little splash of in-combat healing (you can heal yourself or a teammate _by hitting an enemy_, so you don't even waste actions). He also receives combat bonuses for getting hit. It's this ability to fulfill two combat roles simultaneously that make the Crusader a T3.
    * The Warblade finally has the chassis of a Barbarian (i.e. D12 HD etc), but instead of Rage and suchlike he also gets maneuvers. Also, he is not a "dumb brute" but rather an "intelligent warrior" type (he gets some small Int synergies). His disciplines are non-supernatural, but they _are_ extraordinary. For example, he can shake off debuffing statuses imposed on him (By Crom!). His combat roles are Striker and Leader. He does the Leading bit just as well as the Crusader, but he is better at dishing out damage than preventing it. Several of his maneuvers are better than a full Fighter feat chain, but that's fine because those feat chains sucked.

    So yes, each of these classes is more powerful than their Monk/Paladin/Fighter counterpart, and when ToB is in play there is little reason to play any of the old classes except for 1-2 level dips. But that's a good thing because the original classes are, for the most part, terrible.
    (Note that Paladins _can_ be awesome but you have to pull all kinds of feats and ACFs that replace pretty much everything a Paladin normally does.)
    Let me give you a brief rundown of an average Post-3E Era fight: You attack an enemy and start kicking his shins. He then starts kicking your shins, then you take it in turns kicking until one of you falls over. It basically comes down to who started the battle with the biggest boot, and the only strategy involved is realizing when things have gone tits up and legging it.

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