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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    So, what, Exalted is "more magic" because they didn't put antimagic field in it?

    Yeah, not buying it.
    No, it's "more magic" because there is no such thing as mundane. There is no "magic-user/muggle" divide. Everyone and everything embodies magic. If somehow you had an antimagic field, the area itself would cease to be. Creation itself is made of magic.

    I think this is a much better way to go. Separate "casters" from "non-casters," (a separation of how, not what, they can do) but abandon the idea that there are non-magical "muggles" (at least as player characters). Having one group of characters whose concept is "can do anything" and another who are inherently limited to "things normal people can do" is a good way to cause a mess. Instead, let everyone be "magical," just in different ways.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Zale View Post
    They aren't so different that the world radically changes from ours when the magic is turned off.

    The mere fact that it's possible to "turn off the magic" indicates that the magic is not strongly integrated into the functioning of the setting. Sure there are places in D&D where the world operates under different principles, but those so scarcely interact with how magic works that it's disingenuous to link them.

    Oh, this plane is made of fire and so fire spells are marginally more powerful.


    D&D magic feels like a random assortment of magical effects that have been stripped of their metaphysical origins and justifications, rammed together and placed without roots into a setting.

    In some versions of Exalted, for example, it's possible to almost trivially call up the spirits of the dead to talk to them. Anyone can do it, because it just takes blood and a bunch of half-muttered words.

    You can do a lot of magical seeming things just by talking to the spirits that are in charge of them. A village shaman can do a lot without ever casting what the setting defines as "a spell" purely by propitiating the right local gods.

    It's a different set-up than how D&D works.

    Indeed. D&D magic feels like a long catalogue of choices of "black boxes" that impose or overlay overtly magical (but discrete and predetermined) effects on a world operating on an otherwise fairly recognizable set of physics. Some creatures are overtly "magical" in some ways but otherwise seem to operate in a rather recognizable sort of way. The magic doesn't seem to be at all integrated into the functioning of the world overall.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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  3. - Top - End - #273
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    D&D has dragons, displaced beasts, blink dogs, demons and Devils. They are inherently magical in their existence. Even an AMF doesn't turn off their existence. But if magic ceased to exist entirely in a place, they would die out.

    That's pretty integrated as far as I'm concerned.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    I'm actually talking about designing the system itself to handle high level/high power play. If the mechanics of your rule set break down before your players get pass the "half way mark" of level progression, you have a serious problem
    I agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    No, it wouldn't. There are good ideas in earlier editions (there are good ideas in most editions). For example, random magic items probably are better than purchased ones. Also, moving the HP curve down again is a good idea just from an accounting perspective. But the DMing advice in 2e, and the way casters work, and the ways spells were written are all terrible, and we should not go back to them.
    Well, I can tell you they work great in my game. Like:

    *Teleport mishap-I use the Ye Old D&D Expert boxed set table...it has a high chance of a mishap for ''seen once places'' and such. I like having teleporting a dangerous.
    *System Shock Rolls for shape changing, again, makes it dangerous.
    *Wishes that can...maybe..''do anything'', but all ways at a cost.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    My initial point was that a plucky underdogs who defeat superior odds through intangible things like heart, cunning, tenacity, or playing on their opponent's overconfidence is, in my mind, more heroic than a big power house who simply crushes his opponents because he is smarter, stronger, faster, better, etc.
    Agreed.

    I like the game where the player must use their own mind and abilities to overcome things and not a player that just picks a character ability to use to ''win the game''.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    I can think of many better ways to make magic risky and inconvenient than a random chance to lose your skin every time you cast something.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    I can think of many better ways to make magic risky and inconvenient than a random chance to lose your skin every time you cast something.
    Well....''loosing something'' is what ''risk'' is all about. 3e started the trend of making ''risk'' like ''oh no if you fail your character will take 1d2 damage''. And I think that was a bad move.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    Yes, which is why the game balance should be rebalanced so they aren't broken. But if you think the solution to make them not broken needs to be "take away abilities" rather than "change challenges", you are explicitly saying that the game shouldn't support my character concept, exactly like I have been claiming you are saying and you have been denying saying all along.
    If your character concept is that dependent on game-mechanical constructs, you need to have a long, hard think about what you want out of a game.


    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    D&D has dragons, displaced beasts, blink dogs, demons and Devils. They are inherently magical in their existence. Even an AMF doesn't turn off their existence. But if magic ceased to exist entirely in a place, they would die out.

    That's pretty integrated as far as I'm concerned.
    The different magic things aren't un-integrated because they can be turned off, but because there's no rhyme or reason to them. They can do different things, but not consistently in the same or even similar ways. They all exist, but they're all random in the first place.
    If you'll pardon the biology major: It's like the difference between a naturally-evolved biosphere which lends itself to neat Linnaean classification and one which includes plants with feathers, snakes with gills, and other random things, only applied to every field of science at once.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Again, there are many ways to introduce the risk of losing things or injecting complications that don't rely on a 15% to die every time you do a thing. Random chance to die and lack of any consequences aren't your only options.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Well....''loosing something'' is what ''risk'' is all about. 3e started the trend of making ''risk'' like ''oh no if you fail your character will take 1d2 damage''. And I think that was a bad move.
    I think it's a bad move to make a character kill himself to do what he is supposed to do, like fail a system shock roll for casting a polymorph spell. I'm glad D&D moved beyond that. You don't punish a character for existing.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    If your character concept is that dependent on game-mechanical constructs, you need to have a long, hard think about what you want out of a game.
    I don't think any of those things are "game mechanical constructs". Or rather, insofar as they are "game mechanical constructs", they are constructs that represent particular abilities and enable particular stories. Let's take a look at some of the specific things this Druid/Planar Shepherd can do.

    First, we'll assume that the character in question is a Druid 5/Planar Shepherd 10 and is attuned to a plane that is full of demons. To save the time of having to look up all the demons in every splatbook, I'm going to assume this plane contains both demons and devils, but only the ones in the core rules.

    Second, this is a somewhat loose overview, so for the most part I'm not going to dive into specific feat selections, or try to catalog the entire breath of what the character can do. This isn't because those things don't contain anything I value, it's because I don't want to dump an entire build into an argument that its not really related to.

    So, the character has the following abilities:

    1. Able to travel to and from their attuned plane, twice per day. I list this first not because it is the most important of the character's abilities, but because it's one which has no obvious mundane equivalent. A mundane might be able to kill armies or have minions, but its not clear how you can have planar travel and still be "mundane".
    2. Access to a staggering variety of SLAs. greater teleport at-will is an obvious standout, but its far from alone. At-will access to AoEs like chaos hammer, unholy blight, call lightning, cone of cold, ice storm, or blade barrier make him adept at shredding armies. He also gets utility spells like charm monster, dispel magic, various illusion spells, and commune. Yes, he's somewhat limited in what abilities he throws around, but he can get a lot out of a form like Marith or Ice Devil.
    3. Between capstone DR and potential regeneration, he's almost impossible to kill without specialized gear, allowing him to wade through and destroy armies of essentially arbitrary size.
    4. Traditional wild shape offers utility too, including mobility forms, combat forms, infiltration forms, and others. In particular, he probably has some shape that allows him to fight in any environment without advanced preparation.
    5. He can use awaken to generate animal or plant minions, in very large numbers (XP costs are admittedly real, but can be mitigated, particularly if he's evil).
    6. He can create extreme weather events on a scale wide enough to wipe out cities or armies, and in conjunction with his movement abilities can demolish a small to medium sized nation inside a week. Inside a day, maybe, because control weather follows him when he teleports ("centered on you").
    7. wall of stone allows for rapid construction. move earth also allows more constructive environmental alteration.
    8. He can bring back the dead with reincarnate.
    9. And, of course, his combat abilities are no joke. This is obviously pretty dependent on optimization, and therefore difficult to benchmark, but its not difficult to imagine that this character can shred an archangel (Solar) or demon lord on his own, or destroy a host of lesser celestials.

    So in summary, you have someone who can plausibly destroy an entire kingdom on a whim, demolish any army that stands against him, has swarms of animal minions, and can beat down the most powerful servants of gods. And honestly, there are some abilities I would probably add to the character. Like an explicit mechanic for having a personal fortress, or some way of coming back from death.

    But yes, that's the kind of character I would like to be able to play or fight. I would like to be able to do stories like The Incursions/Time Runs Out (the multiverse is dying, heroes have to fight off multiversal threats and rival super-teams to survive, all while trying to find out what's happening), The Authority (a superhero team that decides that they should not only save, but change the world), Malazan (literally just a guy's D&D campaign), Dominions (god-kings struggle to become over-deities, employing powers like "turn off the sun" and "summon dead gods"), or even lower powered things like House of Blades (basically a shonen anime), The Chronicles of Amber (a family of world-walking demigods fight over succession), The Fifth Season (mages with powers that control earthquakes try to use ancient artifacts to control the orbit of the moon), The Second Apocalypse (conquer hell and end damnation), or The Laundry Files (survive the techno-Lovecraftian apocalypse/singularity). All of those are cool, interesting stories and all of them are firmly in "mundanes need not apply" territory.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    I think it's a bad move to make a character kill himself to do what he is supposed to do, like fail a system shock roll for casting a polymorph spell. I'm glad D&D moved beyond that. You don't punish a character for existing.
    Yes, exactly. I have no idea why anyone ever thought "using your abilities has a chance to kill you" was a good mechanic, but I'm glad we don't think that any more.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    Stuff.
    How exactly does this character work from a mechanical perspective? Just like the shape-change spell but comes online a few levels earlier and not quite as broken?

    And again, if you like a character who is that powerful why not actually play a system actually designed around nigh-omnipotent beings rather than one where it happens by accident as the result of a handful of poorly thought out spells and abilities?

    Or heck, one where an even more broken character like one of the various incarnations of Pun-Pun can't simply blink your character out of existence on a whim.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2017-11-21 at 10:35 PM.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    I don't think any of those things are "game mechanical constructs". Or rather, insofar as they are "game mechanical constructs", they are constructs that represent particular abilities and enable particular stories.
    -snip-
    You then proceed to describe a series of very specific abilities with no obvious common elements. The only explanation you provide linking them is:
    So in summary, you have someone who can plausibly destroy an entire kingdom on a whim, demolish any army that stands against him, has swarms of animal minions, and can beat down the most powerful servants of gods. And honestly, there are some abilities I would probably add to the character. Like an explicit mechanic for having a personal fortress, or some way of coming back from death.
    So, either you started with the mechanics and added this explanation to justify why all of them are needed for your "character concept," or you started with the idea of "I want to create an insanely dangerous character, more like a WMD than a shining knight or a government agent or whatever". The former is exactly what I was implying criticism of; the latter is indicative of far deeper issues.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    Again, there are many ways to introduce the risk of losing things or injecting complications that don't rely on a 15% to die every time you do a thing. Random chance to die and lack of any consequences aren't your only options.
    True. Are you thinking I said death was the only way to go?

    Like if a teleport is off target, it does not equal instant death. A character might teleport too high, and fall say 50 feet to the ground. But that 5d6 damage won't kill most characters of a high enough level to cast teleport.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    I think it's a bad move to make a character kill himself to do what he is supposed to do, like fail a system shock roll for casting a polymorph spell. I'm glad D&D moved beyond that. You don't punish a character for existing.
    Lol...it's not punishing a character for existing....that would be like ''roll a 1d20 every round; if you roll a one your character dies."

    It is a price for power, a very common and accepted thing. Modern D&D has it too. Like for example in 3X and PF barbarians get fatigued after using their rage.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    How exactly does this character work from a mechanical perspective? Just like the shape-change spell but comes online a few levels earlier and not quite as broken?
    I don't necessarily know what you mean. Do you want me to go into more detail as to how that build works? Do you want me to detail what that character might look like in a more ideal ruleset?

    And again, if you like a character who is that powerful why not actually play a system actually designed around nigh-omnipotent beings rather than one where it happens by accident as the result of a handful of poorly thought out spells and abilities?
    You mean like the game system that allows you to make that character? Or maybe the system with a book called The Epic Level Handbook that allows you to make characters more powerful than that? Or the system with a book called Deities and Demigods which stats up the gods as adversaries you can face with abilities you can attempt to acquire? Or maybe the system which has "Epic Destinies" including Prince of Hell, Demigod, Lord of Chaos, Dragon King, seven types of Avatar, Godhunter, and Godmind? Or maybe the one with a sourcebook called "Immortals" that details characters who "give [the multiverse] order and purpose"? Or maybe the one with a book with rules for becoming a Dragon King or weird psychic angel?

    There has literally never been an edition of D&D (except maybe 5th) that did not at least claim to provide the kind of power I'm calling for. Not since the earliest editions of the game. If you don't want characters that are epic and do crazy crap in your game, find a different game.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    You then proceed to describe a series of very specific abilities with no obvious common elements. The only explanation you provide linking them is:
    There are some very obvious links there. The character basically has "nature powers" and "demon powers". Hell, you swap the awaken for elemental minions, give him elemental wild shape instead, and maybe tweak reincarnate somehow, and the character just has "elemental powers" instead of "nature powers". Honestly, there are actually reasonably good thematic links between demons and nature, if you take a look at the more primordial/anti-civilization side of nature.

    So, either you started with the mechanics and added this explanation to justify why all of them are needed for your "character concept," or you started with the idea of "I want to create an insanely dangerous character, more like a WMD than a shining knight or a government agent or whatever". The former is exactly what I was implying criticism of; the latter is indicative of far deeper issues.
    Again, that character (by the listed abilities) is actually pretty tight thematically.

    Your second objection is, as far as I can tell, that you don't like the particular power level that character falls at, to which I can only say -- so?
    Last edited by Cosi; 2017-11-21 at 11:10 PM.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    You mean like the game system that allows you to make that character? Or maybe the system with a book called The Epic Level Handbook that allows you to make characters more powerful than that? Or the system with a book called Deities and Demigods which stats up the gods as adversaries you can face with abilities you can attempt to acquire? Or maybe the system which has "Epic Destinies" including Prince of Hell, Demigod, Lord of Chaos, Dragon King, seven types of Avatar, Godhunter, and Godmind? Or maybe the one with a sourcebook called "Immortals" that details characters who "give [the multiverse] order and purpose"? Or maybe the one with a book with rules for becoming a Dragon King or weird psychic angel?
    Ever notice how none of the sample characters in all of these "epic level" supplements you talked about don't look anything like the NI loophole TO characters you toss around as being the ideal balance point? Or that none of the campaign settings are post scarcity magical utopias? Or that there are epic level characters and even gods who put most or all of their levels into fighter? Or that the game thinks I giant beetle with no magic and a whole lot of HP is a challenge for level 50+ characters?

    And yes, the Basic D&D immortals boxed set actually did try and change the scope of the game once you got to a certain level rather than pretending everything would always be exactly the same just with bigger numbers. It is exactly the sort of game system I would suggest you try because it can do it a hell of a lot better than 3.5.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    I don't necessarily know what you mean. Do you want me to go into more detail as to how that build works? Do you want me to detail what that character might look like in a more ideal ruleset?
    Essentially I am asking is the core of your character simply "I transform into whatever form has the perfect ability to solve whatever problem I find myself in at the moment as an at will ability?"

    Because we can talk about character concepts and planar shepherd thematics, but it really seems like you're argument is just "I like 3.X because shape changing is super broken," which is a much simpler discussion and, coincidentally, the exact reason why neither myself nor any of my friends have played 3.X in the last 12 years.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2017-11-21 at 11:22 PM.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    I think it's a bad move to make a character kill himself to do what he is supposed to do, like fail a system shock roll for casting a polymorph spell. I'm glad D&D moved beyond that. You don't punish a character for existing.
    Which summarizes the thread basically.
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    All gaming systems should be terribly flawed and exploitable if you want everyone to be happy with them. This allows for a wide variety of power levels for games for different levels of players.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Ever notice how none of the sample characters in all of these "epic level" supplements you talked about don't look anything like the NI loophole TO characters you toss around as being the ideal balance point?
    Which of those abilities is a NI? The only one I think you can make a case for is the awakened minions, because that is a resource that accumulates without limit, if admittedly slowly. But frankly, that ability is fairly minor in terms of his power. Acting in multiple places at once is nice, but its far from impressive compared to his other abilities.

    Which of those is a "loophole"? Is it the thing where he uses control weather to control the weather? Is it thing where he uses the Planar Shepherd's ability to turn into outsiders to turn into outsiders? Is it the thing where he uses at-will AoE damage to deal with large numbers of weak enemies? The thing where he uses abilities that make him immune to normal weapons to ignore people wielding normal weapons? The thing where he uses move earth and wall of stone to create structures made of earth and stone? Seriously, which of the abilities I actually listed are "loopholes"?

    Or that none of the campaign settings are post scarcity magical utopias?
    Why are none of the campaign settings technologically modern? They have civilizations that have lasted as long as our own, with members as intelligent as we are (I mean, one assumes), so why the hell are swords and crossbows still the most impressive technology out there.

    Also, Darksun, Spelljammer, and Planechase are all pretty clear based on the presence of large numbers of high level characters.

    Or that there are epic level characters and even gods who put most or all of their levels into fighter? Or that the game thinks I giant beetle with no magic and a whole lot of HP is a challenge for level 50+ characters?
    But there are also epic characters with exactly the kind of power I'm asking for. Do they just not count? Should we accept that those guys have to allow "I have a really big BAB" guy into the party because that's how it works now? How can you take that stance and ask for any changes to the game at all?

    Essentially I am asking is the core of your character simply "I transform into whatever form has the perfect ability to solve whatever problem I find myself in at the moment as an at will ability?"
    Well, no. Obviously, transformation is a part of it, but that aspect is largely focused on combat, or combat-time utility, though there are some exceptions. The strategic abilities are important too. As far as concept goes, I'd probably start with (as mentioned) the idea of a more primal take on druidic power, drawing from something like Warhammer's chaos gods. Someone focused on nature, or maybe some particular aspect of it (like predation, or community, or decay) to the exclusion of their humanity, and with the power to personally enact that agenda. Of course, that's just one character, and a more negative bent at that.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    You mean like the game system that allows you to make that character? Or maybe the system with a book called The Epic Level Handbook that allows you to make characters more powerful than that? Or the system with a book called Deities and Demigods which stats up the gods as adversaries you can face with abilities you can attempt to acquire? Or maybe the system which has "Epic Destinies" including Prince of Hell, Demigod, Lord of Chaos, Dragon King, seven types of Avatar, Godhunter, and Godmind? Or maybe the one with a sourcebook called "Immortals" that details characters who "give [the multiverse] order and purpose"? Or maybe the one with a book with rules for becoming a Dragon King or weird psychic angel?

    There has literally never been an edition of D&D (except maybe 5th) that did not at least claim to provide the kind of power I'm calling for. Not since the earliest editions of the game.
    See, here's the thing. Those claims are pretty shallow. Sure, the rules are there, but they're widely considered to be the most ill-considered optional rules in a game infamous for its ill-considered rules. There are systems designed from the ground up to work with that kind of power level, and to work well. Raise your standards, Cosi--you deserve better.

    There are some very obvious links there. The character basically has "nature powers" and "demon powers". Hell, you swap the awaken for elemental minions, give him elemental wild shape instead, and maybe tweak reincarnate somehow, and the character just has "elemental powers" instead of "nature powers". Honestly, there are actually reasonably good thematic links between demons and nature, if you take a look at the more primordial/anti-civilization side of nature.
    If that's true, I have a question for you: Why do you seem so insistent on having that specific set of nature and demon powers? You seem opposed to the idea of getting rid of any of those just because of petty concerns like game balance, because they're all important to your character concept...so why are they?

    Your second objection is, as far as I can tell, that you don't like the particular power level that character falls at, to which I can only say -- so?
    It's not that I don't like the power level, it's that I don't like how your character is defined by power level. If you'll tolerate an oversimplification, it's like the difference between Son Goku and Superman--one is defined by his power and desire to gain more and is also a hero, while the other is defined by his unshakable moral code and is also powerful. Or, to put it another way, it sounds disturbingly close to this, only not intentionally-obnoxious and more ambitious in scope.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    In the interest of clarity, I thought I'd go back and explain where I think each of these abilities should show up in the game's progression. In order to do that, I should probably outline what I think that progression should look like. Roughly speaking, I think something like 4e's tiers is the way to go. For the interest of simplicity, I'll keep the names and level ranges, but change the definitions slightly:

    Heroic Tier: Characters largely lack any abilities that operate at scales beyond the personal. Characters are weak enough that calling in the army would effectively defeat them. Characters cannot use abilities like plane shift, teleport, or raise dead under their own power. No flying archers for at least the first half of the tier.
    Heroic Tier Characters: Conan, Captain America, Batman (the most common, street-level version of the character), most characters from Avatar (exceptions being the spirit kaiju from LOK S2, the giant mecha from LOK S4, maybe Avatars in the Avatar State, and maybe powerful firebenders under Sozen's comet), Jedi, Game of Thrones, Jorg, Lord of the Rings, Buffy

    Paragon Tier: Characters command armies and kingdoms, and have personal abilities that are effective, though not decisive at those scales. Characters have the ability to travel to other planes or across the world without taking up significant table time or resources. Characters are expected to develop strategies to cheat death, though not necessarily immediately.
    Paragon Tier Characters: Corwin of Amber, Essun, Travelers from the Traveler's Gate Trilogy, Lord of Light, Kylar Stern, Iron Man, The Second Apocalypse, the various "hidden powers" (or whatever term Lawrence uses) in the Broken Empire, Batman (in incarnations like Kingdom Come where he plays more to the gadgeteer aspect), the Gatewatch

    Epic Tier: Characters are expected to fight, and kill, gods. Characters regularly deploy abilities that would drive entire adventures for Heroic or Paragon tier characters.
    Epic Tier Characters: Sargeras, Dominions, Nicol Bolas, Urza, Doctor Strange (at the end of Time Runs Out)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    1. Able to travel to and from their attuned plane, twice per day. I list this first not because it is the most important of the character's abilities, but because it's one which has no obvious mundane equivalent. A mundane might be able to kill armies or have minions, but its not clear how you can have planar travel and still be "mundane".
    I would expect this to come online at 11th level, or close to it. It's a pretty limited form of planar travel, which means it can't happen that far into Paragon, but it is player-directed planar travel, so it clearly needs to be Paragon.

    2. Access to a staggering variety of SLAs. greater teleport at-will is an obvious standout, but its far from alone. At-will access to AoEs like chaos hammer, unholy blight, call lightning, cone of cold, ice storm, or blade barrier make him adept at shredding armies. He also gets utility spells like charm monster, dispel magic, various illusion spells, and commune. Yes, he's somewhat limited in what abilities he throws around, but he can get a lot out of a form like Marith or Ice Devil.
    This is several different abilities. The AoE stuff is probably somewhere in Paragon, depending on exact numbers. greater teleport at-will isn't actually that unbalanced, but it pokes holes in the setting because it makes it plausible for the character to address any issue relevant to him, which cuts out the options for low level characters. Therefore, it probably needs to wait til Epic, making it rare enough (and the interests of characters with it broad enough), that it won't tread on the setting too much. The utility abilities are complicated, but I think most of them work at the levels they're at in 3e, give or take.

    3. Between capstone DR and potential regeneration, he's almost impossible to kill without specialized gear, allowing him to wade through and destroy armies of essentially arbitrary size.
    This is just "low level enemies scale off the RNG". I think this should be a continuous process that happens throughout the game so that a Level X character is always immune to Level X - N characters, give or take a level or two.

    4. Traditional wild shape offers utility too, including mobility forms, combat forms, infiltration forms, and others. In particular, he probably has some shape that allows him to fight in any environment without advanced preparation.
    The big deal here is the ability to pull out whatever movement mode you need, which I could see being a good enough swiss army knife to have to wait until at least late Heroic or early Paragon.

    5. He can use awaken to generate animal or plant minions, in very large numbers (XP costs are admittedly real, but can be mitigated, particularly if he's evil).
    The thing I want here is a kingdom full of intelligent animals, which is a Paragon tier ability (about on par with a kingdom full of humans).

    6. He can create extreme weather events on a scale wide enough to wipe out cities or armies, and in conjunction with his movement abilities can demolish a small to medium sized nation inside a week. Inside a day, maybe, because control weather follows him when he teleports ("centered on you").
    Doing this to one city at a time is probably an appropriate ability somewhere in the back half of Paragon. Doing it to a whole kingdom at once is Epic.

    7. wall of stone allows for rapid construction. move earth also allows more constructive environmental alteration.
    Depends on exactly how good this is. Probably early Paragon.

    8. He can bring back the dead with reincarnate.
    Early Paragon for others, mid Paragon for self.

    9. And, of course, his combat abilities are no joke. This is obviously pretty dependent on optimization, and therefore difficult to benchmark, but its not difficult to imagine that this character can shred an archangel (Solar) or demon lord on his own, or destroy a host of lesser celestials.
    This is almost completely up in the air. I would say that killing a bunch of mid-grade celestials is somewhere past the mid-point of Paragon depending on what you mean by "bunch" and "mid-grade". The archangel is probably a single encounter in early Epic levels. The Demon Lord is a boss in encounter in early-to-mid Epic.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    See, here's the thing. Those claims are pretty shallow. Sure, the rules are there, but they're widely considered to be the most ill-considered optional rules in a game infamous for its ill-considered rules. There are systems designed from the ground up to work with that kind of power level, and to work well. Raise your standards, Cosi--you deserve better.
    Yes, the game has tried and failed to do that. If it had tried and succeeded, I wouldn't be pushing for a new version of the game to do better, I would be playing with the good version of those rules.

    It's not that I don't like the power level, it's that I don't like how your character is defined by power level.
    Different power levels allow you to tell different stories. You cannot do Chronicles of Amber if you do not mandate that all the PCs have plane shift. All characters are defined by their power level. Lord of the Rings happens the way it does because Gandalf can't cast teleport. The Second Apocalypse happens the way it does because Khellus can.

    No one ever asks people to justify why not having polymorph is important to their character concept. Why should I have to justify why having polymorph is important to mine?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post

    Lol...it's not punishing a character for existing....that would be like ''roll a 1d20 every round; if you roll a one your character dies."

    It is a price for power, a very common and accepted thing. Modern D&D has it too. Like for example in 3X and PF barbarians get fatigued after using their rage.
    That's what is happening. Cast polymorph. Roll system shock. Oh rolled too high, you're dead.

    I'm not too thrilled with 3E/Pathfinder barbarians getting fatigued either. In my previous Pathfinder group not only the barbarian player but also the DM was getting annoyed that every time his rage ends and loses the CON bonus he loses twice his level in hit points and almost dies. When he did actually die the DM was p'd off about it because he didn't deserve it. (You had to be there.) He fiated he didn't die and right then and there house ruled the extra hit points from the CON increase during a rage were temporary hit points. Cue Pathfinder a month later coming out with the revised barbarian in their Unchained book making it temporary hit points as well.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    It is a price for power, a very common and accepted thing. Modern D&D has it too. Like for example in 3X and PF barbarians get fatigued after using their rage.
    And I keep getting the impression that people don't WANT to pay for their power...they just want all of the advantages, and absolutely no drawbacks, of what ever character concept they can dream up (or find on a forum).

    "Checks and balances!? To hell with that! ALL ENGINE, NO BREAKS!"
    Last edited by Mutazoia; 2017-11-22 at 01:43 AM.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    From what I've seen so far, Starfinder has brought "casters" and "mundanes" much closer together. IIRC, the system was designed such that 4 Soldiers could be a viable party.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    No, it's "more magic" because there is no such thing as mundane. There is no "magic-user/muggle" divide. Everyone and everything embodies magic. If somehow you had an antimagic field, the area itself would cease to be. Creation itself is made of magic.

    I think this is a much better way to go. Separate "casters" from "non-casters," (a separation of how, not what, they can do) but abandon the idea that there are non-magical "muggles" (at least as player characters). Having one group of characters whose concept is "can do anything" and another who are inherently limited to "things normal people can do" is a good way to cause a mess. Instead, let everyone be "magical," just in different ways.
    In D&D wizard magic is something people just learn. Theoretically everyone could do it. It is just existing natural laws and powers and knowing how to use them.

    So ... i do have problems seeing D&D as a system with an inbuilt magic/mundane divide.

    Yes, the way it is played usually assumes that most people don't learn any magic and thus effectively become mundane, but there is never a real justification for it.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    But if you think the solution to make them not broken needs to be "take away abilities" rather than "change challenges", you are explicitly saying that the game shouldn't support my character concept,
    All of those are cool, interesting stories and all of them are firmly in "mundanes need not apply" territory.
    If you don't want characters that are epic and do crazy crap in your game, find a different game.
    The problem is the hypocrisy - you complain that someone suggests that your character concept shouldn't exist, but then immediately turn around and say that other peoples character concept (those who want to play bad-ass mundanes) shouldn't exist.

    That is my problem with posters like PhoenixPhyre's continued assertions that the game should just throw out non-magic characters - people want to play those characters. From the beginning the game has been citing talented mundanes as character archetypes; Sir Galahad, Robin Hood, Saladin, the guy off Gladiator, and people want to play them. To be told "sorry, its mage or manga character" isn't an acceptable solution (except for people who want to play the super-power characters and don't want to be limited by catering to people who want bad-ass mundanes), since it alienates a chunk of players.

    So lets lay off the "players of Rogues and Fighters can just f*** off" 'solutions'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    And I keep getting the impression that people don't WANT to pay for their power...they just want all of the advantages, and absolutely no drawbacks, of what ever character concept they can dream up (or find on a forum).

    "Checks and balances!? To hell with that! ALL ENGINE, NO BREAKS!"
    The problem is that a lot of solutions tend to be all-or-nothing, and there is never going to be a solution at either end of the spectrum that makes everyone happy. I can certainly sympathise with the Wizard player who doesn't want to lug a crossbow or bunch of throwing darts around due to a danger of death every time they cast a Frostbolt, because they want to be a Wizard, not a crap Rogue. But that said, there is a big difference between a Magic Missile and a Gate, and there is certainly space for creating a nuanced system that allows free casting of low power spells, but brings in an element of danger when the mage is going full Nova.

    In Dark Heresy, most spells have two states, a "normal" effect, and an "overcast" version, which ramps up the effect of the spells dependant on how much power you use to manifest it. And the way spells are cast in that, pushing the power into it in order to achieve high overcast results is markedly more dangerous. A system like that, where Wizards could cast the default version of the spell safely, but incur risk if they want the supercharged version, might solve the problem, as a spellcaster gets to be a spellcaster without having potential death hanging over his head at every turn, but some of the more gamebreaking spells could be rolled into weaker spells as their "overcast" varient.
    Last edited by Glorthindel; 2017-11-22 at 04:47 AM. Reason: phrasing and spelling

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi
    No one ever asks people to justify why not having polymorph is important to their character concept.
    This actually false. Just in discussions like this thread, examples abound: "Why it important your Fighter not use magic?" "Why is it important your Wizard not use a crossbow?" "Why is it important your telekineticist not be able to change shape?" "Why is it important for your Wizard to not be able to use healing magic?"

    Characters are as much defined by what they can't do as what they can.

    Granted, not all these kind of questions are smart, nor all all the answers. ("Why is it important your pyrokineticist not be able to create ice... oh wait.")
    Last edited by Frozen_Feet; 2017-11-22 at 04:58 AM.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    And I keep getting the impression that people don't WANT to pay for their power...they just want all of the advantages, and absolutely no drawbacks, of what ever character concept they can dream up (or find on a forum).

    "Checks and balances!? To hell with that! ALL ENGINE, NO BREAKS!"
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Glorthindel View Post
    The problem is the hypocrisy - you complain that someone suggests that your character concept shouldn't exist, but then immediately turn around and say that other peoples character concept (those who want to play bad-ass mundanes) shouldn't exist.

    That is my problem with posters like PhoenixPhyre's continued assertions that the game should just throw out non-magic characters - people want to play those characters. From the beginning the game has been citing talented mundanes as character archetypes; Sir Galahad, Robin Hood, Saladin, the guy off Gladiator, and people want to play them. To be told "sorry, its mage or manga character" isn't an acceptable solution (except for people who want to play the super-power characters and don't want to be limited by catering to people who want bad-ass mundanes), since it alienates a chunk of players.

    So lets lay off the "players of Rogues and Fighters can just f*** off" 'solutions'.
    The problem that PhoenixPhyre is trying to point out is what I would call "you can't have your cake and eat it too". We're not saying that wanting to play a Sir Galahad, Robin Hood, Saladin, the guy off Gladiator, etc, is in any way bad. We're not telling those players to "F off". What we're saying is, you can't have everything.

    Something has to give.

    You can have those "not magical" characters, and spellcasters who are balanced to be viable in the same game, and a setting that is not incoherent and not dissonant.

    You can have spellcasters on par with 3.5e casters, and fighters and rogues that aren't spellcasters but are still magic for that setting and can keep up with those spellcasters, and a setting that is not incoherent and not dissonant.

    You can have spellcasters on par with 3.5e casters, and "not magical" fighters and rogues that aren't spellcasters but can still keep up with those spellcasters without any magic at all, and a setting that has people being able to do those things baked into its "physics", and is not incoherent and not dissonant.

    You can have spellcasters on par with 3.5e casters, and "not magical" fighters and rogues that aren't spellcasters but can still keep up with those spellcasters without any magic at all, and a setting that doesn't reflect that and IS incoherent and IS dissonant... that is, objectively bad worldbuilding.

    You can have spellcasters on par with 3.5e casters, and "not magical" fighters and rogues that aren't spellcasters and cannot keep up with those spellcasters, and accept the imbalance between character types, and a setting that is not incoherent and not dissonant.

    What you CANNOT have is spellcasters on par with 3.5e casters, "not magical" fighters and rogues that aren't spellcasters but can still keep up with those spellcasters without any magic at all, no reflection of that in the worldbuilding, AND a setting that makes any damn sense at all.

    Something has to be sacrificed.


    Again, there's nothing wrong with wanting to play spellcasting demigods, or physical demigods, or "totally mundane" heroic characters who have no magic at all, or gritty-level spellcasters, or whatever.

    The problem comes from trying to cram them all into the same campaign, the same game, the same "fictional reality", while asserting that they're all mutually viable together -- you just end up with the Curse of the Kitchen Sink. This is why Kitchen Sink Gaming, of which D&D is the God Emperor, will always lead to problems. Every time we come around to this stuff about balance, or caster-vs-"mundane", or whatever, I'm tempted to just post "The Curse of the Kitchen Sink Strikes Again!"

    Play those characters (Sir Galahad, Robin Hood, Saladin, the guy off Gladiator, etc) to your heart's content. Play spellcasting demigods to your heart's content. Play them in the same campaign if you're willing to accept the imbalance. But don't expect any system or GM to actually succeed at what is literally impossible.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    And I keep getting the impression that people don't WANT to pay for their power...they just want all of the advantages, and absolutely no drawbacks, of what ever character concept they can dream up (or find on a forum).

    "Checks and balances!? To hell with that! ALL ENGINE, NO BREAKS!"
    It's not a balance that my character can die for using its ability to do something. Not wanting that is not the same thing as wanting unlimited power.

    Let's go with polymorph. What has been done instead of roll a percentage chance you die.

    Pathfinder - Made multiple polymorph spells of different levels providing defined specific buffs. The spell tells you what you can get, not the creature you turn into. You need to be high level for the real juicy stuff, but then such power is appropriate for the level. Not liking the high power of that level is a matter of taste, not the fault of the game.

    5E - Limited the type of creatures you can turn into. Specifically denied the ability to cast spells until when the campaign is almost over. Specifically denied creature abilities until at a level the ability is appropriate, for example when wild shaping druids get to turn into a flying creature.

    5E also limited spellcasting in general with fewer spell slots than previous D&D games and the Concentration mechanic.

    This same principle applies to loathing critical fumbles. My warrior should not risk injuring or killing himself for the audacity of swinging his weapon in combat to attack.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    In D&D wizard magic is something people just learn. Theoretically everyone could do it. It is just existing natural laws and powers and knowing how to use them.

    So ... i do have problems seeing D&D as a system with an inbuilt magic/mundane divide.

    Yes, the way it is played usually assumes that most people don't learn any magic and thus effectively become mundane, but there is never a real justification for it.
    That's a particularly 3.5e conceit, and a very RAW (fluff doesn't exist) view. Arcane magic (in all the books, in the settings, etc) requires talent. It may not be genetic talent, but in the same way that I'll never be an NBA star, most people don't have the capability of learning non-trivial spells. Most people don't get PC classes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glorthindel View Post
    That is my problem with posters like PhoenixPhyre's continued assertions that the game should just throw out non-magic characters - people want to play those characters. From the beginning the game has been citing talented mundanes as character archetypes; Sir Galahad, Robin Hood, Saladin, the guy off Gladiator, and people want to play them. To be told "sorry, its mage or manga character" isn't an acceptable solution (except for people who want to play the super-power characters and don't want to be limited by catering to people who want bad-ass mundanes), since it alienates a chunk of players.

    So lets lay off the "players of Rogues and Fighters can just f*** off" 'solutions'.
    That's not my point at all. Mine is more of a meta-point--we should accept that fighters and rogues (along with all other characters and foes) are inherently magical, thus liberating them from the shackles of the Guy at the Gym. Everything in a fantasy world is magical, because none of it could happen in real life.

    I'm going to formalize the definition of magic that I've been using:

    Magic (n): whatever properties, characteristics, capabilities, talents, or abilities a fictional entity has that are impossible in real life as we know it.

    Using this definition, even in 3.5 rogues are magical (evasion anyone?). All higher level (by which I mean level 2 or 3 at most) characters can survive things (and heal from things) that would kill normal people. Robin Hood? Magical (his arrow precision in the stories is way beyond what's really possible). Sir Galahad? Super magical. And the stories reflect that--"My strength is as ten because my heart is pure." Saladin? Same deal. The Gladiator dude? Survived when he shouldn't have.

    None of these are overt magic (casting spells), but all of these, like just about any other mythical or fictional hero, are well beyond the capabilities of RL people. Thus magic. Not very strong magic in most cases, but compared to their opponents, magical enough. And that's what matters. Playing Robin Hood (and insisting that you should be just as effective as anyone else) in an 3.5e Epic Level T1 campaign? That's what's a problem. Same with playing Cosi's Druid/Planar Shepherd character in a low-power (by which I mean "has anything other than PO T1 characters or threats") game.
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