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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    bekeleven's Avatar

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    Aug 2013

    Default Classless D&D 3.5 Conversion: Break my balance!

    I built a classless, HD-less total conversion for D&D. It's based heavily on Complete Control, a similar endeavor by Dreamscarred Press.

    Here are the problems I tried to solve from DSP's attempt:
    Spoiler: These are goals
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    • Adjust balance. I think DSP costed some things too harshly. A good example is feats: When you can buy numbers directly, you end up spending feats on either things your build needs to be able to do, or on annoying prerequisites. Either way, spending as much as they charge for feats feels bad.
    • Simplify complication. DSP's complete control used HD to determine HP (and nothing else), but its complication was incredibly obnoxious, where you could buy every HD from D4 to D12, but D12s were about always better with low con and D4s were better with high con. The system they used to buy skill ranks was too complicated to even make a table, especially due to the fact that the first four ranks used a different pricing system. Speaking of...
    • Some of DSP's issues (not all of them) come from the fact that they were attempting to perfectly emulate D&D's XP scaling. For instance, the first 4 skill ranks scaled differently (and less) than the others, or the fact that the first two of basically anything cost leagues less than the rest. I award XP ad-hoc when I DM and don't much care about where the designers said "Third level, you need some real numbers now!"
    • Their system had vague and simplistic pricings of class features. For instance, you could buy "constant abilities" and "variable abilities," where a constant ability is anything that doesn't scale by level and a variable ability is the other thing. Evasion is constant. Sneak attack is variable. Evasion can be gained at level 2 so it costs X, whereas sneak attack up to rogue 9 costs Y. Is uncanny dodge a constant ability or is it variable (because it leads into improved)? Is improved its own ability, allowing me to buy it separately? Is improved a variable ability due to its extremely rare corner case where its level matters? They answer this example in the text, but what of similar abilities? Do the fighter's bonus feats count as a constant ability, a progression, or neither? And let's not forget the stacked progression tables...
    • Spells. The system allows you to min/max and buy spells pretty cheap.
    • A spreadsheet. I made a second sheet (click the tabs at the bottom) that allows you to build a character and tracks your points spent at each juncture. The problem with the system, especially the skills (mine and theirs) is that there are so many small fiddly numbers. Well, problem solved. Every possible cost of XP - except maybe buying over 20 separate skills - is accounted for.
    • The DSP system covers level-based ability increases but leaves initial stat generation as an exercise to the reader. One of DSP's design goals was to make a system for character creation seamless transition into character advancement; I can only assume there's some obscure rights reason they didn't do this themselves. So I implemented one.


    So, some words on what my system is and is not meant to do:
    Spoiler: These are not goals
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    • Races. The game I want to run with this will only allow balls of putty (take humans and erase the free skills and feat, for the perfectly generic race). Buy racial characteristics you like along with the rest, assuming they're bonuses to skills, saves, abilities, etc.
    • Spells. My players will not be spellcasters. I limited the system to generating abilities from The Professional as well as warlock invocations. (and not blast stuff, either.) Yes, HP are a limited resource; the closest thing to healing is ranks + Skill Mastery in Use Magic Device. (or, you know, heal.)
    • XP Scaling. As mentioned above, I ad-hoc my XP adjustments, which allows me to smooth my scalings. DSP's complete control prices the first feat at 100, the second at 160, then the third at 680, which starts the progression of each one costing 520 more than the previous. I didn't make exceptions for #2 like they did.
    • The characters created using my starting XP - 5000 - should have approximately 3rd-ish power level. I did whip up one character with leap attack but I couldn't buy enough BAB to take much advantage of it.
    • An int 20 character may take rank 1 of every skill for free. Since no stat can go to 30, rank 2 may never be bought for free. Some skill corner cases aren't in the sheet formulae because I whipped the whole thing up in four hours; I'd replace the entire skills cost system with on onEdit macro if I thought my players would abuse it.


    Here's the system. Feel free to make a copy and play around. Here's an example character. If you want to make your own character, go to file -> Make a Copy, because I'm not giving you editing rights (sorry) Visitors now have edit rights to the sheet but only on the cells players are meant to edit. If you want a character other people won't mess with, however, still copy it. On the character sheet, anything bold and blue adjusts points spent; other boxes are for other character stats, misc bonuses and the like. The character sheet would probably have space for gear if I ran the campaign, and calculate AC and the like. I added space for gear, languages, AC, and character notes.

    I'm looking for specific ways to break this system, costing advice, or any other feedback you're willing to offer. Thanks for reading!

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: Classless D&D 3.5 Conversion: Break my balance!

    While I'm intrigued by the idea of point based dnd characters and I found your generic class adequate, I'm just not all that interested in mundanes so I don't really want to go tinkering around with a sheet. No one else seems to have posted though so I'll make some words.

    The first thing that jumps out at me is that sneak attack seems extremely overpowered without some sort of cap/level requirement/etc. Having passive abilities and defenses increasing the price of your attacks really dis-incentivizes them for me, while 1/3 of the mechanics list is way stronger than any feat while costing less. Specializing in sneak attack or damage reduction is just better until you eventually need to start piling on the exotic defenses to make up for lack of spellcasting. I also think it's weird that you can buy single armor proficiencies since that's never been a thing. System is still dependent on magic items for AC, and since those don't come out of your xp it's even more obvious you should just buy offensive or DR (unless you use Motivate Care Aura and AC tank the whole party into impossible). No monk stuff. Grant Move Action remains an insult, especially when Pounce is on the Talent list (maybe 1/encounter). Your generic Professional allowed ACFs and substitutions, but I would assume this is not also meant to do so. Blindsense is dirt cheap for anyone not spamming other talents and brings Darkstalker down from useful to feat tax (I'm seeing Blindsense+Pounce on everything not deliberately mimicking a class or character).

    Trying to break things, look for anything you can't normally do at low levels. DR 6/- or +6d6 sneak attack doable at level 3. Or 20d6 and 20/- for only 1/4 of a level 10 PC's budget. You made a nod to some non-mundane stuff with invocations, so potentially early access to Animate Dead, Black Tentacles, Wall of Fire, and maybe Dark Discorporation or Word of Changing at mid level.

    Ability scores are dirt cheap. +9 on a save or +9 BAB is 4875 or 6060, but pumping an ability score you had at 8 up to 28 for a final +9 on everything related is only 5840. At "10th" level Adonis buys 28 in every ability for only 35040xp, leaving 9960 to pick up hp and some token feats/features. Maybe start by teching to Mighty Rage for 2500 so you can have the absolute highest strength possible, or the Inspiration+Brains over Brawn set for 3750 with similar effects.

    If you follow the guidelines of an existing class or try to stay versatile it's probably all fine. Without the framework of the Professional, being allowed to ignore the normal class packages means there are a lot of abilities you can just skip over without caring. I dip Barbarian for fast movement, but no way am I buying fast movement when I could tech to max rage sooner.


    Sorry I didn't post sooner if you were on a timer. I didn't post last time you bumped the Servant Soul either since I didn't have anything interesting to add (Old dnd group is dead, not likely to have any more playtest stories). Also had the Legacy Gatekeeper grow on me, and thought of a potential servant weapon you probably already thought of: could do armor spikes, make an AC spirit.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    bekeleven's Avatar

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    Default Re: Classless D&D 3.5 Conversion: Break my balance!

    I said that I would ad-hoc XP, but you should obviously grade the system based on existing XP levels because I never went into detail.

    Yes, a character can get a bunch of sneak attack at level "3" if they want very few points to spend elsewhere (up to 12D6, in fact!). The catch, of course, is that they'd never hit anyone (no str to hit or BAB), never get into position to hit (no skills) and get killed by a stiff breeze (no AC, no saves, no HP). More realistically, a character can have 6D6 sneak attack and some moderate abilities, like you mentioned - the increasing cost of sneak attack forcing some amount of generalization to be practical. This is the intent of the design. Force one thing all you want, but you'll be forced to spread points out to not be useless.

    The earliest you can get tentacles, by XP, is the equivalent of level 4 (6000 XP exactly). However, I'm relying on gameplay concerns to take care of this: A character receives XP incrementally throughout the game, encounter by encounter. In order for a character to buy black tentacles by, say, level 6, they will have had to accrue XP for 13 encounters and spend none of it, while I slowly ramped the difficulty. I consider this unlikely. At lower levels, the number of encounters required will increase exponentially. That said, I have been tweaking the invocation XP, and might bump up their costs again. (yeah, I just did - Before Lesser were 4x Least, Greater were 4x Lesser, and Dark were x3 Greater. Now they scale at 5x, 4.5x and 4x.)

    You're probably right about the scaling of ability scores. Those don't scale into higher levels very well; I made them before anything else and never critically reexamined them in by balance pass, which was a mistake. I'll update their costs now.

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