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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    To reward myself for a weekend spent working outside while my pregnant wife and her brother sat on their rears and watched, I bought Tome of Battle and the Expanded Psionics Handbook. I have only started reading the XPH, and haven't touched the ToB yet, but everything I have heard tells me that they are broken.

    How broken is broken?

    Are we talking broken right out of the gate, or broken if you take the
    ruight feats, and can fast-talk the DM into accepting a rules interpretation.

    As for why I bought them, well, I bought the Eberron Campaign setting, with a goal to eventually DM some games in it, and psionics seemed to be pretty much built into the system. And the ToB appealed to me because it gave me the impression that it would add a bit more style to the fighter side of the game.
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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    There is no brokenness

    Psionics is better balanced than magic as a whole, though I haven't used it enough to find exceptions. ToB, if heavily optimized, makes obscenely good characters, but is normally better than regular fighter, worse than wizard.

    Example of heavy optimizing: I made a ToB character, who, at ECL 20, can take down the Tarrasque in one round. This relies on big T winning initiative at point-blank range.

    Note, of course, if you consider regular melee classes balanced, an/or your players play weak casters, etc, ToB is probably more powerful than you might be used to.

    EDIT: Whoops, forgot about mystical swordsage adaption. Don't do it. Ever. It's cheese.
    Last edited by Arbitrarity; 2007-07-31 at 01:10 PM.

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    The only really broken thing in ToB is the Mystical Swordsage adaption that lets you cast certain Wizard spells as menoeuvres; no one in their right mind would allow that.
    Besides that, there isn't really anything broken it. Powerful yes, broken no.

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Expanded Psionics Handbook: Not a lot of this is broken, really; spells can do essentially anything they can. They have a bit more versatility in how they spend their power points, but to make up for that, they have to spend more to get increased effect based on manifester level. Spellcasters, in contrast, get most of those same effects for free. The one thing they do noticeably better than spells are mind-affecting powers, which makes sense thematically and is largely because manifesting a power is a lot less obvious than casting a spell.

    The Psychic Warrior is similar in some ways to a cleric, except that they have fewer powers and gain bonus feats. Solid class, definitely not broken. The Wilder is generally considered weak, but I've always thought it was underestimated; they only know a few powers, but they're really good with those. The Soulknife is weak.

    The main thing to remember about psionics is that you can never spend more power points than your manifester level. If you ignore that, it quickly becomes very broken.

    The Tome of Battle is a little different. If you play with wizards that like to use Fireballs and Magic Missile, it will seem broken. The classes are more powerful than some of the core fighting classes—the warblade outdoes the fighter, the crusader generally is better than a paladin, the swordsage is better than the monk. It's designed for a game in which magic is used cleverly (Solid Fog, Forcecage, Glitterdust, and such are the mark of such games), and almost always for something other than simple damage. In those sorts of games, Tome of Battle helps keep melee characters viable by giving them tactical options (for damage, an optimized barbarian can generally get more).

    So, neither is really all that broken. The XPH is no more broken than spellcasters are, probably less if you strictly observe the rules. The Tome of Battle isn't broken, but it is designed for high-powered games; if your games aren't high-powered, it might not fit in well.
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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    I can't speak for ToB, but -correct me if I'm wrong, I'm no psionic expert- most of the "psionic is broken" rants appear because their authors forget that you can't spend more power points on single power than your manifester level.
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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Used together, the two books are very well balanced. They are both between the Wizard/Druid and Monk/Fighter power levels and both use more fluid and adaptable mechanics than the core Arcane/Divine magic systems.

    They do both give the 'broken' vibe to inexperienced first-time readers because the Psychic Warrior class as well as all of the ToB classes make Paladins, Fighters and Monks obsolete, which they really already were.

    One of the complaints one of my friends had and cited as a clear case for the ToB's brokenness was a feat making unarmed strikes four monk levels better. The feat isn't even as good as Weapon Specialization until high levels.

    I started using those books as the base of a campaign world along with the PHB2 classes, Rogues, Bards, Battle Sorcerers, and specialist casters like the Warmage and Dread Necromancer. The end result seems to be well balanced and makes parties rely more heavily on each other in the absence of any Batman Wizards and without much easy healing. The parties end up playing more smoothly since most classes have more spells per day than the core casters.

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Quote Originally Posted by mudbunny View Post
    To reward myself for a weekend spent working outside while my pregnant wife and her brother sat on their rears and watched, I bought Tome of Battle and the Expanded Psionics Handbook. I have only started reading the XPH, and haven't touched the ToB yet, but everything I have heard tells me that they are broken.

    How broken is broken?

    Are we talking broken right out of the gate, or broken if you take the
    ruight feats, and can fast-talk the DM into accepting a rules interpretation.

    As for why I bought them, well, I bought the Eberron Campaign setting, with a goal to eventually DM some games in it, and psionics seemed to be pretty much built into the system. And the ToB appealed to me because it gave me the impression that it would add a bit more style to the fighter side of the game.
    Both of these books are better balanced than typical arcane and divine caster. Tome of Battle characters look good compared to vanilla Fighters, especially core-only vanilla Fighters, but that's not really a problem; Tome of Battle characters are fine balance-wise, and they're a whole lot of fun (as well as, yes, quite stylish). Psionics aren't broken-free, but they're certainly far less broken than wizards/sorcerers/et al.

    Psions get problematic in the same places arcanists do: Polymorph-equivalent powers, Time Stop-equivalent powers... however, the polymorph stuff costs XP for psions.
    I saw a fairly convincing comparison of the psionic powers with arcane spells--RPGnet, maybe. Basically, nearly every good psionic power except the best damage ones has an arcane equivalent, while most of the really good arcane spells just don't have a psionic equivalent.

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Quote Originally Posted by M0rt View Post
    I can't speak for ToB, but -correct me if I'm wrong, I'm no psionic expert- most of the "psionic is broken" rants appear because their authors forget that you can't spend more power points on single power than your manifester level.
    Another big part of it is that until 3.5, any psionics that existed was entirely borked. From what I understand, in 2e, it was absolutely ridiculous, and in 3.0, there were the annoying mental attack/defense modes, which if you weren't psionic, could stun you just for existing. THAT was pretty broken.
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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    That's the main thing they forget, yes.

    Myth: The XPH is Overpowered

    ToB is powerful, but it mainly serves to make melee classes fun and viable to play in the later stages of the game.
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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    If you consider the core books balanced enough for spellcasting, you will find the Expanded Psionics Handbook equally balanced. For example, Psions are very well-designed to rival, but not surpass, the Wizard in power over the course of a core-rules-compatible day.
    If you consider the core books imbalanced in that they make casting too powerful, you will find the Expanded Psionics Handbook equally imbalanced, for the same reasons.

    If you consider the core books balanced enough for Fighters, you will find the Tome of Battle fairly overpowered. The classes presented are, in general, significant improvements over the Fighter class.
    If you consider the core books imbalanced in that they make Fighters too weak at mid-to-high levels, you will find the Tome of Battle balanced, for the same reason.

    Most players seem to consider spellcasters powerful, but already tailor their games to make it all work out--they do just fine with XPH. Most players also seem to consider Fighters underpowered at mid-to-high levels, and thus find ToB a good addition. If you think spellcasters are too powerful, you will have to do the same kind of changes to XPH as you did to the core casters. If you think Fighters are balanced at any level, you probably don't want to allow ToB.

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Yeah, basically they aren't broken, but like just about any material put out there for 3e there are ways and means to break them.

    Tome of Battle and Tome of Magic introduce 'powered up' Martial Characters and 'powered down' Spell Casting Characters. Used together you may get a greater degree of balance between Player Characters, but individually they are more powerful than standard Martial Characters (past about Level 5 or so) and less powerful than standard Spell Casting Characters (again, past about Level 5 or so).
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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    The only way to break psionics is to combine it with arcane magic or other plain silly broken things.
    Arcane 1:
    A circle magic wizard casting mental pinnacle and then giving the power points to a psion (through metaconcert, soul crystal power in magic of incarnum, or accessing bestow power through the psion)
    Arcane 2: The prc in dragonmarked which allows you to give up 1 use of a spell or spell like ability to cast inflict spells. Warlock then gives up invocations 1 at a time to cast inflict spells in a dwomer of transference

    Plain Silly: Two psions of 18th lvl or higher using psychic chiurgery combine with a thought bottle to learn every 9th lvl power that is on the psion list and every 8th lvl or lower on a unique discipline or other class list.
    Plain Silly 2: The new Arcane Erudite which learns arcane spells but uses power points instead of preparing them. Pay 2 additional power points to bypass any material component, no matter its cost.

    Wait I made a mistake non silly use without arcane interaction, using Soul crystal and Twin Power can generate power points, but can't be done till near epic levels and with a book you don't have.

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Quote Originally Posted by mudbunny View Post
    Are we talking broken right out of the gate, or broken if you take the
    ruight feats, and can fast-talk the DM into accepting a rules interpretation.
    ToB's not really all that broken. If you're looking for Wuxia-style martial arts combat rather than "Oh... the monk did 3 damage again", then ToB is every kind of awesome plus chrome finish. While there are some fairly impressive combos out there, you only really have to watch out for a couple maneuvers:

    White Raven Tactics (WR 3rd) - Use a swift action to give any ally (including yourself) another turn later in the round. While not game-breaking broken, it can work as a low-level duplicate of the 9th level Diamond Mind capstone "Time Stands Still" (two full-round attacks as a full-round action). The sticking point rules-wise is whether "any ally" includes yourself (and by RAW it does), but even if the DM disagrees, giving one of your allies the equivalent of two full-round actions a round is still pretty overpowered for a 3rd level maneuver. Combined with Ruby Knight Vindicator and lots of turn attempts (RKV can spend a turn attempt to gain a swift action or recover a maneuver), then things get just a wee bit wacky.

    Iron Heart Surge (IH 3rd) - Incredibly useful, ends any status effect or condition you might be suffering from. This includes fatigue, exhaustion, frenzy, sicken, dazed, deafness, blindness, nausea, ability damage, you name it... then it starts getting a little silly, including a lot of spell effects and area effects. Magical darkness? *poof* gone. Vampire got a bit frisky, gave you some negative levels? *poof* gone. Anti-magic field? *poof* gone.

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin View Post
    ToB's not really all that broken. If you're looking for Wuxia-style martial arts combat rather than "Oh... the monk did 3 damage again", then ToB is every kind of awesome plus chrome finish. While there are some fairly impressive combos out there, you only really have to watch out for a couple maneuvers:
    Hey, ToB isn't all Wuxia. A Crusader or Warblade can quite easily be just a really strong, skilled guy hacking at things with a sword.

    White Raven Tactics (WR 3rd) - Use a swift action to give any ally (including yourself) another turn later in the round. While not game-breaking broken, it can work as a low-level duplicate of the 9th level Diamond Mind capstone "Time Stands Still" (two full-round attacks as a full-round action). The sticking point rules-wise is whether "any ally" includes yourself (and by RAW it does), but even if the DM disagrees, giving one of your allies the equivalent of two full-round actions a round is still pretty overpowered for a 3rd level maneuver. Combined with Ruby Knight Vindicator and lots of turn attempts (RKV can spend a turn attempt to gain a swift action or recover a maneuver), then things get just a wee bit wacky.
    The latest ruling is that you *can't* use it on yourself, which fits--traditionally, "all allies" includes oneself, while "a (single/specific) ally" doesn't.

    Iron Heart Surge (IH 3rd) - Incredibly useful, ends any status effect or condition you might be suffering from. This includes fatigue, exhaustion, frenzy, sicken, dazed, deafness, blindness, nausea, ability damage, you name it... then it starts getting a little silly, including a lot of spell effects and area effects. Magical darkness? *poof* gone. Vampire got a bit frisky, gave you some negative levels? *poof* gone. Anti-magic field? *poof* gone.
    You have to be able to "move freely", take the standard action, and "roar with effort". Additionally, the effect needs to have a duration. That means that you can't get rid of dazing, you can't use it in in a frenzy (you're too busy attacking people, on permanent negative levels, on nausea (can't take the standard action)...
    It does get ridiculous, however. You can technically end a continent-wide epic spell you're in the middle of, as long as it's got a duration.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin View Post
    White Raven Tactics (WR 3rd) - Use a swift action to give any ally (including yourself) another turn later in the round. While not game-breaking broken, it can work as a low-level duplicate of the 9th level Diamond Mind capstone "Time Stands Still" (two full-round attacks as a full-round action). The sticking point rules-wise is whether "any ally" includes yourself (and by RAW it does), but even if the DM disagrees, giving one of your allies the equivalent of two full-round actions a round is still pretty overpowered for a 3rd level maneuver. Combined with Ruby Knight Vindicator and lots of turn attempts (RKV can spend a turn attempt to gain a swift action or recover a maneuver), then things get just a wee bit wacky.
    It's funny that you mention this, according to WotC (it came up in my RSS feed today), WRT does not work on yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sage Advice

    Sage Advice

    Q: Dear Sage
    Can you use White Raven Tactics (Tome of Battle p94) on yourself to gain another turn right after your current initiative score?
    --Robert

    A: No. White Raven Tactics doesn’t work on the initiator himself.
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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Quote Originally Posted by mudbunny View Post
    It's funny that you mention this, according to WotC (it came up in my RSS feed today), WRT does not work on yourself.
    Interesting.

    But then it wouldn't be the first time WotC has been inconsistent or contradictory about a ruling.

    Haven't heard about the "all allies" or "an ally" thing before. The glossary in the PHB made no such distinction.

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rachel Lorelei View Post
    I saw a fairly convincing comparison of the psionic powers with arcane spells--RPGnet, maybe.
    Do you have a link please?

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Do you have a link please?
    I'm sorry, I don't... I don't read the site much, it was quite some time ago, and I'm sure they've had any number of "are psionics broken?" discussions before that and since then.

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    I define "broken" as a rule that makes a relatively balanced party impossible. The DM can always power up or power down encounters. Nothing is broken unless there is a serious imbalance between PC builds, and that imbalance bugs one or more of the players. Thus a Samurai can be just as game breaking as an Incantatrix.

    Various high power combinations can easily be found in both. Go over to the optimization board, and you can find lots of them.

    Within Psionics, the Pyrokineticist, Schism, and Psychic Surgery are often cited.

    Within the Tome of Battle, virtually everything will raise your run of the mill melee classes to the full caster level. Though usually, people who rant about it don't understand that you can only use one Swift or Immediate action per turn, and/or they don't understand that a Standard Action is not necessarily the same as an attack action, and/or that a Full Round Action is not necessarily the same as a full attack action, and/or they don't understand they you have to spend an action (and thus, not attack) to recover maneuvers during combat.

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Quote Originally Posted by Person_Man View Post
    Within the Tome of Battle, virtually everything will raise your run of the mill melee classes to the full caster level.
    Mmm. Not to optimized caster power (without excessive cheese) for the most part, but decent full caster power. Probably not CoDZilla, nor full batman (Maximised shivering touch! Quickened shivering touch! Imbue familiar with Sp. Ability empowered shivering touch! 3d6x1.5+3d6+18 dex damage!)

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    Mmm. Not to optimized caster power (without excessive cheese) for the most part, but decent full caster power. Probably not CoDZilla, nor full batman (Maximised shivering touch! Quickened shivering touch! Imbue familiar with Sp. Ability empowered shivering touch! 3d6x1.5+3d6+18 dex damage!)
    I read the "being batman guide" a bit ago, but doesn't it actually tell you not to use Shivering Touch?

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rachel Lorelei View Post
    I read the "being batman guide" a bit ago, but doesn't it actually tell you not to use Shivering Touch?
    Yes
    ...because it's so powerful that the sheer cheese-ness of it led the author to advise against it.

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    That's not full-out batman style. Maximised, optimized casters, use everything at their disposal.

    But wait. If they do that, ToB classes can as well. Ok.. Slow, stinking cloud and solid fog?

    Hmm. 3 spells/round is still powerful, even if 1 must be spell slot level 5 or less, and the other level 5, or more with cheese.

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Quote Originally Posted by tainsouvra View Post
    Yes
    ...because it's so powerful that the sheer cheese-ness of it led the author to advise against it.
    Yeah, that's kinda my point. If the guy who wrote the "batman guide" suggested it not be used, doesn't that mean the "batman wizard" shouldn't use it? The "completely powergamed to the hilt" wizard, maybe, but you'd think a "batman wizard" would be a wizard who's played mostly according to the batman guide.

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    Mmm. Not to optimized caster power (without excessive cheese) for the most part, but decent full caster power. Probably not CoDZilla, nor full batman (Maximised shivering touch! Quickened shivering touch! Imbue familiar with Sp. Ability empowered shivering touch! 3d6x1.5+3d6+18 dex damage!)

    Crusader 1/Paladin 4/Ruby Knight Vindicator 7

    WotC has clarified that you can use White Raven Tactics on yourself (though your Initiative is lowered by one each time you use it, which means other others might be able to act in between your various actions).

    1) Do you normal turn.
    2) Use White Raven Tactics on yourself to gain another turn.
    3) Use a Turn Undead attempt and use Divine Impetus to gain another Swift Action.
    4) Use a Turn Attempt and use Divine Recovery to recover White Raven Tactics.
    5) Use White Raven Tactics to give yourself another turn.
    5) Repeat steps 3-5 until you run out of Turn Undead attempts.

    Considering how easy it is to gain extra Turn attempts (via Nightsticks and/or boosted Cha), that's a lot of actions in one turn.

    And this is just one such example. Certainly, a full caster can do similar things (Celerity FTW!). But I would say that using ToB that its clearly possible to put an optimized melee build on the same plane of existence as an optimized caster build.

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Someone in the thread already linked to a "Sage Advice" reply that clarified that you can't use White Raven Tactics on yourself--what's more, a single broken-trick-build doesn't really mean much.

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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Quote Originally Posted by Person_Man View Post
    Crusader 1/Paladin 4/Ruby Knight Vindicator 7

    WotC has clarified that you can use White Raven Tactics on yourself (though your Initiative is lowered by one each time you use it, which means other others might be able to act in between your various actions).
    Actually, you can't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sage Advice
    Sage Advice

    Q: Dear Sage
    Can you use White Raven Tactics (Tome of Battle p94) on yourself to gain another turn right after your current initiative score?
    --Robert

    A: No. White Raven Tactics doesn’t work on the initiator himself.
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    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    You can still use WRT with ping pong tactics, in combination with the RKV (or the crusader if you don't reset readied maneuvers when all his maneuvers have been granted) it is broken ... and even when not used in a broken way it's just plain overpowered for it's level.

    Martial classes can do scary tricks at low level (a TWF swordsage combining burning blade with either wolf fang strike or flashing sun for instance). Also Aptitude weapons are a bit overpowered and the maneuver granting magic items are too poorly explained.

    For the XPH some of the higher level powers are problematic, but then high level spells are much worse. At lower level energy Missile is just too good (it was nerfed in complete psionics but they didn't bother to errata it for the XPH). Claws of the Beast damage can also get ridiculous after expansion.
    Last edited by PinkysBrain; 2007-07-31 at 04:48 PM.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Yeah, White Raven Tactics is a problem. I would ban that maneuver outright. However, it's the only thing in the entire book (other than mystic swordsage) that I feel warrants a flat-out ban; which is pretty damn good, considering the potential the ToB had to be horrifically broken.

    And no, an optimized ToB character does not stack up to a full caster.
    Last edited by Dausuul; 2007-07-31 at 04:48 PM.

  30. - Top - End - #30

    Default Re: What's broken in ToB and XPH?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    Example of heavy optimizing: I made a ToB character, who, at ECL 20, can take down the Tarrasque in one round. This relies on big T winning initiative at point-blank range.
    I made a telepath that could reliably Dominate the Tarrasque at level 11, and a less optimized one that could do it at level 13.

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