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    Orc in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Making an innocuously terrible class

    Suppose you wanted to make a class that is terrible to the point of nigh-unusability, but that seems perfectly viable to the unwary eye. Basically a new cousin for 3.5’s Truenamer. What kind of features would you give to such a class?

    I’ll start.

    - Features that can be arbitrarily negated by the DM, like the 5e chaos sorcerer or the 3.5 paladin.

    - Features that trade offence for defence, to the point of removing yourself from relevance.

    - Features based off a skill that isn’t on the class list or that isn’t supported by the class’ primary ability scores.

    - Features reliant on an ability check with a DC that scales faster than your bonus. (Courtesy of the Truenamer.)

    What else can we think of? Ideas from a 3.5, 5e or system-neutral perspective are all welcome.

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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    Abilities that sound good, but for some reason actually aren't, could be a feature. As a not-quite-right example, some folk think D&D rogues get overpowered due to the number of sneak attack dice. Something similar, but instead of just not being OP being weak/useless.

    Some possible examples (though Truenaming subsystem of 3.5 is a good example):
    --a power that does something really awesome, but is really easy to resist (easy saving throws, for D&D. Some mental influence abilities in Exalted 2nd ed Socialize Charms seem like this, due to rolled successes compared to a potentially high value and having penalties)
    --a power that looks awesome, but actually isn't. Maybe you crazy damage against outsiders, but outsiders are very rare in the setting. Or you deal Void damage, but almost everyone is immune to Void.

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    Velaryon's Avatar

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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    Assuming D&D here, and many of these are 3.5-specific as well.

    First, let's take a few lessons from the 3.5 Monk:

    -Make the class require decent or better stats in at least 3 different ability scores.
    -Make it a class whose primary role in combat is to attack, but only has medium attack progression (if 3.5).
    -Class features that don't synergize well. At first they look like they have a broad variety of abilities, until you realize that many of them are mutually exclusive (movement speed increase, extra attack on a full attack action, etc.).
    -Abilities that function like [a watered-down version of] an ability or spell that another class gets at muchearlier levels.


    Let's take a few more from the 3.X Ranger while we're at it:

    -Abilities that are highly situational and may come up seldom or never in many games (terrain-specific bonuses, bonuses against specific enemy types, etc.)
    -Abilities that are arguably not really abilities at all (like how Tracking is used in many games, where you either were or weren't going to find that person/monster/whatever anyway, depending on either the GM's whim or the needs of the story).


    And what the heck, one from the Rogue too:

    -Highly integral class features (for example, Sneak Attack) that are easy to obtain immunity against, or many enemies have blanket immunity against.


    Throw in a few more that aren't specific to one class:

    -Abilities that seem powerful, but don't scale well with level, becoming useless in higher-level play. Perhaps they have a static saving throw DC, or one that scales much slower than enemy saving throw bonuses.
    -Bonus feats chosen from a highly specific list, of which most options are mediocre.
    -All-or-nothing abilities that have no effect on a successful save.


    And here are a few more, if we're designing a prestige class:

    -Require spellcasting as a prerequisite, but don't advance spellcasting, or lose a lot of casting levels.
    -Alternatively, require spellcasting as a prerequisite, but instead of advancing the existing class's casting, have a new and more limited spell list.
    -Make the class particularly appealing to a specific type of character, but have a prerequisite that those characters cannot easily fill. For example, a class that appeals to Fighters but requires more skill ranks than they can easily obtain.
    -Make the class progress the signature abilities of two or more base classes, but in such a way that a character would be more powerful just sticking to one of those classes (for example, nearly all dual-casting classes).
    -Give a bonus feat

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    OrcBarbarianGirl

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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    I think one good way to do this is to give the class setting or environment-dependent effects. Unlocking doors in Sigil is useless in Pathfinder. Giving powers related to volcano eruptions or lightning storms gives you bonuses in situations that you don't want to find yourself in.

    Add in defenses against things that don't really matter anyway, or make the class functional in ways that make the rest of the party dead weight. Immunity to aging sounds good, but rarely comes up in most games. Water breathing (especially without effects that remove other water-related penalties) only helps you and not the party. The ability to march without resting only helps if the party can keep up and if the adventure involves a lot of walking. Quintupled carrying capacity sounds nice, but that can be accomplished with a cart.

    Make abilities dependent upon some pet creature that's easy to kill and difficult to replace. A familiar or special mount can become an enemy bullseye if not handled properly. One AoE can dash most of the features of the class.

    You can also hide some of the weakness of your class by giving it a cool name, particularly if it relates to some popular media. Walker Hunter, Hunger Gamer, Avenger, all those could be used to disguise a terrible class under the prestige of the name or ideal.
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    Imp

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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    Classes that are really good at skills that don't matter or aren't used. Could easily be caused by the campaign setting or DM so it's not obvious just by looking at the class that it's actually useless.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    Make all their abilities based on your 1st level ability.

    Then make the ability only work against left handed people (based on GM fiat, easy to gain immunity to, many creatures don't have hands...)
    I prefer science fiction to fantasy, and generally play in the former genre. Due to this, I generally expect the laws of physics to apply to games, and work from that perspective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    One trick that I hated was "does not play well with the party". This seems to be limited only to paladins, but you wouldn't believe the original barbarian.

    Add bonuses to pass/fail rolls that typically pass. Trading offense for defense was mentioned, but simply adding to "to hit" is huge at first level or so and then typically becomes pointless. In optimization circles I've heard this called "winning already won battles" and something to avoid.

    Consider Belkar's ability to crush mooks. Plenty of games/campaigns (including apparently the stick-verse) don't substantially reward "taking out the trash" (Belkar didn't get any xp for his original "sexy shoeless god of war" battle). Giving bonuses that make it easier to "take out the trash" would often work well here.

    Critical hits (and conversely dealing *more* damage in a steady rate also works) are good. Ideally they should deliver massive damage on the mooks (with impressive numbers that don't matter since it is far more hp than the mook ever had) but bosses (and any sub boss) can ignore.

    On the flip side, dealing out damage in a steady state allows anyone with healing ability to use heals ideally.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    Quote Originally Posted by Velaryon View Post
    -Class features that don't synergize well. At first they look like they have a broad variety of abilities, until you realize that many of them are mutually exclusive (movement speed increase, extra attack on a full attack action, etc.).
    Although this one is only a problem if those features aren't good enough when used alone. Offensive spells are (mostly) a feature that doesn't synergize - if you cast Magic Jar, you're not casting Web at the same time, and if you're planning to SoD someone then sticking BFC or damage on them beforehand is probably a waste of slots. But the difference is that spells (the good ones anyway) can stand alone on their own merits.

    I actually feel like powerful and mostly non-stacking abilities are a better design for a class - when synergy is required, it creates one-trick ponies. ToB goes this way to some extent, but there's still a fair amount of interaction with normal melee attacks, which are a Voltron-fest of little stacking bonuses.


    To get back on topic - abilities that make function calls to other books - like Polymorph, but too weak instead of too strong. It's harder to evaluate how good something is when it requires cross referencing several sources.

    Idea: FF-style summons, where a powerful monster appears, uses a single ability, and disappears. Have the list of monsters seem powerful, but selected so that the ability filter (supernatural standard-action? SLA?) happens to return crappy effects.

    You'd need a fixed-list though. Anything where you just have to meet a criteria (like Polymorph), there's going to be some edge case that makes the class OP, or at least adequately effective.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2017-11-23 at 04:32 PM.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    As a full round action you can use a Summon Monster I spell as a druid of your level as a spell like ability that takes a full round action. The monster well appear, use one standard action, and then disappear. You can use this ability up to 14,400 times a day. At 4th level and every three levels thereafter the spell level of this ability increases by one.

    Bonuses:
    Large number of uses/day is just an impressive way of saying at-will to creatures with Quicken SLA.
    -Increases in spell level, but is still just Summon Monster I. For some spells this wouldn't be so bad....
    -Druid chosen because I believe they don't get SM spells.
    I prefer science fiction to fantasy, and generally play in the former genre. Due to this, I generally expect the laws of physics to apply to games, and work from that perspective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    Quote Originally Posted by Lalliman View Post
    Suppose you wanted to make a class that is terrible to the point of nigh-unusability, but that seems perfectly viable to the unwary eye. Basically a new cousin for 3.5’s Truenamer.
    Given the forum's opinion that truenamers are obviously terrible and their actual performance compared to a lot of other classes, it seems like truenamers are the exact opposite of what you want. Specifically, the 15+double level looks overtly nonpassable, but isn't. Seek the Sky's duration looks untenable, but in reality the combat will be over before you land. You want something that's the opposite of that.

    Now, since you mentioned 3.5, and it's what I'm used to working with, I'll give you an example for 3.5. I know, I know, this isn't the 3.5 forum. Oh well.

    What you should do to start is give the class something bold, flashy, and ultimately meaningless. How about upstaging the rogue with 10+int skills? The class skills for your new class can be appraise, balance, concentration (give them no spellcasting, of course), decipher script, escape artist, forgery, knowledge (Psionics), perform, and use rope. You might have to shove a couple more on there to be believable, but nothing too good.

    Next, plaster it with class features which aren't particularly useful but sound flashy. If you're really hung up on truespeak, try the disciple of the word's Word of Harm Avoided on for size: it requires a truespeak check, you need to spend a stunning fist attempt, it can only be used once per day, but as an immediate action you can negate one melee attack against you. Oh, and it doesn't work against spells or anything two or more sizes larger than you. Make sure that the class feature includes enough flavour text to hide how bad it actually is.

    Make it have problems using its class features because it doesn't have the chassis for it - this one's all you, monk and soulknife - and while we're on the subject of monk and soulkife, give it class features which look good but actually just partly make up for the restrictions (like the monk's AC bonus which is literally just a way to make up for the fact it can't wear full plate, and not even that). Make its class feature grant it something which is worse than what other classes can do anyway (the soulknife's Mind Blade ability can produce short swords; the warrior can just pick up and wield them, or a better sword).

    Make its abilities sound good but depend too much on action economy, attack rolls, and saves to be useful. Points here go to Death Attack for its relatively easy save, nontouch attack roll requirement, and excessively difficult-to-engineer situation requirement. Fortunately for the assassin, near-full spellcasting (indeed, full spellcasting which just stops early) and a few other neat abilities save it, but death attack is hardly a good selling point.

    Too-little-too-late abilities, like the barbarian's Damage Reduction, are good too. I won't go so far as to say you're not going to notice DR 5 at all, but by the time you probably have a few hundred hit points, no-one is using attacks which are subject to DR anyway, and the ones that do tend to deal obscene amounts of damage anyway. Piddly bonuses like Trap Sense (as well as the monk's Still Mind) are also good, and my favourite, abilities which do nothing but remove the drawbacks of other abilities, like Tireless Rage, are a good way of filling up a class table without actually giving the class anything.

    Abilties which are exceptionally situational, like Countersong, are great, especially if you go into great detail to make them seem like they do more than they do. Bonus points if the situational ability requires a roll, like Turn or Rebuke Undead does, though ToRU is probably too strong when it does work. Obviously, you should use something like the paladin's reduced-level version which will be too low-level to work. I'm also a fan of Resist Nature's Lure, an ability I routinely forget I have when I play a druid.

    Another fun one is giving the class too few hit points to do its job, but making up for it by giving it a healing ability instead. The prize here goes to Wholeness of Body, with Lay on Hands as a runner-up.




    However, I think what we need is some good old ninth-level casting off an awful list, with a different ability score required for save DCs and bonus spells.

    Obviously, disrupt undead, flare, open/close, resistance, and virtue are good cantrips.

    At first we can have calm animals, jump, magic weapon, produce flame, true strike, ventriloquism, and anything else you can think of that's not very good... bane?

    For second I think we should take chill metal, daze monster, heat metal, phantom trap, shatter, shield other (make sure that the class doesn't have enough hit points to tank effectively)... that should be enough.

    Third we can have continual flame, gentle repose, illusory script, quench, maybe searing light, or maybe call lightning? I feel like we need some blasting to make this a class a new player would want to play. I think searing light is the worse spell, though the action economy implicit in using call lightning unironically makes it a close one.

    At fourth level, antiplant shell, blight, command plants, fire trap, ice storm, imbue with spell ability (remember you have no good spells to transfer), and possibly phantasmal killer given how low your DC is going to be (especially if you're trying to fight things as well as cast spells with your two ability scores needed to do that).

    At fifth, animal growth (you have no means of controlling the animals), hallow (you have no useful relevant abilities), mark of justice, unhallow, and just so that again we have a damage spell wall of fire.

    At sixth, acid fog is a terrible spell but does damage, animate objects should be okay (huge animated objects are CR 5, old news by the time you get 6th-level spells), as should create undead (in which case, forget the idea of giving the class TorU, or at least make it low enough level that it won't command the created undead), ironwood, repel wood, spellstaff, sympathetic vibration (hands up who's ever used this?), and I think Tenser's transformation is mandatory.

    For seventh-level spells, instant summons, sequester, statue, sunbeam, and perhaps repulsion are probably bad enough to be safe.

    At eighth level, control plants, moment of prescience, sunburst (weirdly, I'm trying to avoid polar ray because it might actually be too effective), repel metal or stone and word of recall seem like they wouldn't be too strong.

    At ninth, antipathy, refuge, storm of vengeance, sympathy and perhaps even time stop (it's not like you actually have anything useful to do while time is stopped, after all) are all decent, but I think that time stop is too risky. I think that save-or-lose has gone badly enough out of style by level 18 (assuming I don't delay it even more than sorcerer) that I can add imprisonment.

    Obviously I need to restrict its spells known and make it prepare them, because of course I do.

    Now, there's only one thing left to do...

    The Doombringer Champion
    Level BAB Fort Ref Will Special 0lvl 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
    1st +1 +2 +2 +2 Thundering Bolt 1d4 4 1 — — — — — — — —
    2nd +2 +3 +3 +3 Magic-Eating Sustenance 1/day 4 1 — — — — — — — —
    3rd +3 +3 +3 +3 Escape Unburned 1 5 2 — — — — — — — —
    4th +4 +4 +4 +4 Arcing Shot 5 2 1 — — — — — — —
    5th +5 +4 +4 +4 Thundering Bolt 1d6 5 3 1 — — — — — — —
    6th +6/+1 +5 +5 +5 Magic-Eating Sustenance 2/day 5 3 2 — — — — — — —
    7th +7/+2 +5 +5 +5 Escape Unburned 2 5 3 2 1 — — — — — —
    8th +8/+3 +6 +6 +6 Bolt from the Blue 5 4 3 2 — — — — — —
    9th +9/+4 +6 +6 +6 Thundering Bolt 1d8 5 4 3 2 1 — — — — —
    10th +10/+5 +7 +7 +7 Magic-Eating Sustenance 3/day 5 4 3 3 2 — — — — —
    11th +11/+6/+1 +7 +7 +7 Escape Unburned 3 5 4 4 3 2 1 — — — —
    12th +12/+7/+2 +8 +8 +8 Combat Casting 5 5 4 3 3 2 — — — —
    13th +13/+8/+3 +8 +8 +8 Thundering Bolt 1d10 5 5 4 4 3 2 1 — — —
    14th +14/+9/+4 +9 +9 +9 Magic-Eating Sustenance 4/day 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 — — —
    15th +15/+10/+5 +9 +9 +9 Escape Unburned 4 5 5 5 4 4 3 2 1 — —
    16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +10 +10 +10 Volley 5 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 — —
    17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +10 +10 Thundering Bolt 1d12 5 5 5 5 4 4 3 2 1 —
    18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +11 +11 +11 Magic-Eating Sustenance 5/day 5 5 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 —
    19th +19/+14/+9/+4 +11 +11 +11 Escape Unburned 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 3 2 1
    20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +12 +12 Doombolt 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 3 3 2
    Alignment: Any evil
    Hit Die: 1d8

    Class Skills:
    The doombringer champion's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are appraise (int), balance (dex), decipher script (int), escape artist (dex), forgery (int), knowledge (architecture and engineering) (int), knowledge (psionics) (int), martial lore (int), perform (cha), psicraft (int) and use rope (dex).
    Skill Points at 1st Level: (10 + Int modifier) Χ 4
    Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 10 + Int modifier

    Weapon and Armour Proficiency
    Doombringer champions are proficienct in the dagger, club, quarterstaff, handaxe, kama, nunchaku, sai, siangham, and shuriken. They are not proficienct in any kind of armour or shields.

    Spellcasting

    A doombringer champion casts arcane spells which are drawn from the doombringer champion spell list. A doombringer champion must choose and prepare her spells ahead of time (see below).

    To learn, prepare, or cast a spell, the wizard must have a Wisdom score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a doombringer champion’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the doombringer champion’s Charisma modifier.

    Like other spellcasters, a doombringer champion can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on Table: The Doombringer Champion. In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Wisdom score.

    A doombringer champion begins play knowing three 0-level spells and a 1st-level spell of your choice. At each new doombringer champion level, she gains one or more new spells, as indicated on Table: Doombringer Champion Spells Known. (Unlike spells per day, the number of spells a doombringer champion knows is not affected by her Wisdom score; the numbers on Table: Doombringer Champion Spells Known are fixed.) These new spells are chosen from the doombringer champion spell list.

    Preparing the doombringer champion's spells requires one hour of interrupted meditation, which must take place immediately after a good night's sleep.

    Table: Doombringer Champion Spells Known
    Level 0lvl 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
    1st 3 1 — — — — — — — —
    2nd 3 1 — — — — — — — —
    3rd 3 2 — — — — — — — —
    4th 3 2 1 — — — — — — —
    5th 3 3 1 — — — — — — —
    6th 3 3 1 — — — — — — —
    7th 3 3 1 1 — — — — — —
    8th 3 3 2 1 — — — — — —
    9th 3 3 2 1 1 — — — — —
    10th 3 3 2 2 1 — — — — —
    11th 3 3 3 2 1 1 — — — —
    12th 3 3 3 2 2 1 — — — —
    13th 3 3 3 3 2 1 1 — — —
    14th 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 — — —
    15th 3 3 3 3 3 2 1 1 — —
    16th 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 — —
    17th 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 1 1 —
    18th 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 —
    19th 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 1 1
    20th 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 1

    Thundering Bolt (Su)
    A doombringer champion always has the ability to call upon magical energy in the form of a thundering bolt. The doombringer champion can produce a thundering bolt once per round as a move action. Any time before the end of the next round, the doombringer champion can throw the thundering bolt at an enemy (the thundering bolt has a range increment of 10 feet when thrown). If she does, the damage dealt by the bolt is 1d4 plus the doombringer champion's strength modifier. The die size of the thundering bolt increases every 4 levels, up to a d12 at 17th level (this information is shown on Table: The Doombringer Champion). Further, a doombringer champion of a size other than medium launches thundering bolts which deal an appropriate amount of damage. For example, a large doombringer champion would deal 3d6 points of damage (plus her strength modifier) at 17th level and above.

    You can use a thundering bolt's wicked, serrated edge as a melee weapon, but it's not designed for such use and you take a -4 penalty on attack rolls to use it in this way. The doombolt disappears when it strikes an enemy or at the end of the round after its creation.

    Magic-Eating Sustenance (Su)
    Once per day at second level, plus once more per day every four levels after second, the doombringer champion may, instead of casting a spell she has prepared, devour its raw magical energy to heal herself. If she does, she loses one of her prepared spells (other than a cantrip), but heals herself for a number of hit points equal to the spell's level.

    Escape Unburned (Su)
    A doombringer champion starts to gain a measure of resistance against fire at third level, as she learns the arcane secrets to ward herself from flame. She gains fire resistance 1 innately, meaning that even while otherwise unprotected she reduces any damage from fire or fire-based attacks by 1, potentially allowing her to walk through fire without injury. This resistance increases by 1 for every four levels after third.

    Arcing Shot (Ex)
    At fourth level, a doombringer champion becomes more accurate with her thundering bolts, allowing her to launch them with a range increment of 20 feet instead of 10 feet.

    Bolt from the Blue
    At eighth level, a doombringer champion is often able to surprise enemies with the sudden creation of a thundering bolt. While only one can be created per round, a doombringer champion of at least eighth level can create a thundering bolt as a free action.

    Combat Casting
    At twelfth level, the doombringer champion learns the secrets of casting even in a raging melee, and as such gains combat casting as a bonus feat.

    Volley
    At sixteenth level, the doombringer champion can make any number of thundering bolts per round, so she can make a full attack with them.

    Doombolt (Su)
    At twentieth level, the doombringer champion gains the power of the doombolt. Once per week, the doombringer champion can spend three rounds creating a special thundering bolt called a doombolt. When the doombolt is thrown at an enemy, if it hits, the enemy struck must take a fortitude save (DC 15 + the doombringer champion's intelligence modifier) or the doombolt prevents them from breathing. Some creatures don't need to breathe, such as undead and constructs, but most will suffocate when they can no longer hold their breath. The target regains its ability to breathe if it is resurrected, or a remove curse or other ability which removes curses can save the target.

    Doombringer Champion Spell List

    0lvl
    Disrupt undead, flare, open/close, resistance, virtue

    1st
    Bane, calm animals, jump, magic weapon, produce flame, true strike, ventriloquism

    2nd
    Chill metal, daze monster, heat metal, phantom trap, shatter, shield other

    3rd
    Continual flame, gentle repose, illusory script, quench, searing light

    4th
    Antiplant shell, blight, command plants, fire trap, ice storm, imbue with spell ability

    5th
    Animal growth, hallow, mark of justice, unhallow, wall of fire.

    6th
    Acid fog, animate objects, create undead, ironwood, repel wood, spellstaff, sympathetic vibration, transformation

    7th
    Instant summons, repulsion, sequester, statue, sunbeam

    8th
    Control plants, create greater undead, moment of prescience, repel metal or stone, sunburst, word of recall

    9th
    Antipathy, imprisonment, refuge, storm of vengeance, sympathy

    Code of Conduct
    A doombringer champion is expected to be confident in her abilities and must not accept direct aid from her allies. Further, she must not miss an opportunity to spread pain and misery if she thinks she can get away with it. A doombringer champion who does not live up to this expectation loses her spellcasting and her ability to produce thundering bolts until she atones.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    A Doombringer that uses Corrupt spells, takes the Mother Cyst feat, takes the Cerebrosis feat, dips into Arachnomancer, and/or dips into Sandshaper might be able to actually make use of his delayed full-casting. You should probably add a clause that prevents the Doombringer from adding non-Doombringer spells to his spell list or list of spells known.

    Maybe some reserve feat could be used to put those spell slots to use?

    Nice touch with the "Evil Only" requirement- I was going to use Sanctified spells and use Silver Pyromancer to add Paladin spells to my spell list, and Rainbow Servant might have been an option for those willing to wait until teen levels to get some decent spells.

    The Education and Knowledge Devotion feats could be used to put all of those skill points to use.

    Could Heretic of the Faith be used to get around the strict code of conduct, or would it not work because the Doombringer's code of conduct isn't a "deity's" code of conduct? What if you gained a Divine Rank of 0?

    That Full-BAB+All Good Saves+Delayed Full-Spellcasting combo has to be able to be used for something... Maybe they could be combo'd with some gish feat that lets you spend spell slots to boost attack damage or something?
    Last edited by ATHATH; 2017-11-23 at 08:18 PM.
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    Honestly, I think the "has delayed full-spellcasting" quality of the Doombringer might actually be able to pull the Doombringer up to at least Tier 4 or so by itself. I never really understood why the Healer was placed in Tier 5 (IIRC).
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    Quote Originally Posted by wumpus View Post
    Consider Belkar's ability to crush mooks. Plenty of games/campaigns (including apparently the stick-verse) don't substantially reward "taking out the trash" (Belkar didn't get any xp for his original "sexy shoeless god of war" battle). Giving bonuses that make it easier to "take out the trash" would often work well here.
    Quite. I remember one video game I was playing where one character was good in melee, but melee was only good on robots, not spaceships. The thing is, in the time it took that character to get into melee and defeat the robots, most other characters could have shot them to death, because nearly all robots are bottom-grade mooks. There are three exceptions; one shows up once, one shows up twice, and the third is basically impossible to defeat without cheating in ridiculous levels of resources (and pretty tough even with). To me, it was obvious that she was useless, but to everyone I discussed the problem with on the game's forums, there was no problem in specializing badly against an enemy type that didn't really need to be specialized against.
    (Well, it was a free game, so I guess I can't complain too much.)


    Quote Originally Posted by ATHATH View Post
    I never really understood why the Healer was placed in Tier 5 (IIRC).
    Here you go. TL;DR: Until the game is basically over, they are only good at in-combat healing.
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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    I think one problem with the DbC is that I can tell it is awful a little too easily. It wears its prestige class ribbon abilities right on its sleeve. It needs to hide how awful it is, and I think its spell list does accomplish that to a degree. I think it could use more bonus feats, since feats are a good way to hide the lack of features on a class.

    I also wonder if its spellcasting and good saves don't make it a decent springboard into PrCs. Are we sure that DbC can't qualify for something good early? I think a real crap class should not only be crap on its own, but it should actively keep a player from advancing beyond its crapiness. I think the poor class-skill selection hurts it right in that regard, but the ability to cast even bad spells opens a lot of doors.

    Also the doombolts don't seem to have a listed damage type. While that keeps it from being enhanced, it does allow the character to do something against enemies that resist conventional damage.

    I'm helping it be more terrible by playing devil's advocate for it. Player opinions are always what misinform others the most.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Here you go. TL;DR: Until the game is basically over, they are only good at in-combat healing.
    Yeah, but they're full casters. Even though their spell list is terrible, they still have access to Sanctified spells, spell list-expanding techniques, and the things on this list.

    For completeness's sake, I suppose that I should mention that a dip into Nosomatic Chirurgeon would let a Doombringer Champion turn his spell slots into Inflict spells (that can damage undead), which is kind of a neat trick (especially when combined with the Mastery of Day and Night feat). Then again, Inflict spells tend to be pretty terrible, so it's not much of an improvement.
    Last edited by ATHATH; 2017-11-23 at 10:28 PM.
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    AHA!

    I've found what is quite possibly the perfect build for a Doombringer Champion.

    Start with a single level in Factotum and the Able Learner feat (this step is optional if you want to remain a "pure" Doombringer Champion; just use other methods for getting more class skills instead). Then, take 7 levels of Doombringer Champion. Then, take a single level in the Magical Trickster PrC, which will give you the Spontaneous Trickster ability. Resume taking Doombringer Champion levels after the dip(s).

    Spoiler: Spontaneous Trickster (Su)
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    Spontaneous Trickster (Su): You can channel magical potential into using skill tricks more often, effectively "recharging" them. As a swift action, you can "lose" any spell slot or prepared spell of 1st level or higher to perform a trick that you have already used in the encounter.


    Boom. Now the amazing (except for the d8 hit die) Doombringer chassis, the surprisingly large number of skill points that a Doombringer gets per level, and the somewhat decent spell progression of the Doombringer can all come together to give you a pseudo-gish build that might actually be quite fun to play. Use your swift action every round (in combat) to use whatever skill trick is most appropriate to the situation that you're in, because you've got spell slots to burn, baby.

    I feel proud that I've managed to make a class that was intentionally designed to be terrible the focal point for a fun build that is probably at least Tier 4, maybe even Tier 3.
    Last edited by ATHATH; 2017-11-23 at 10:37 PM.
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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    What skill tricks are T3?
    I have a LOT of Homebrew and a Patreon for it

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    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    What skill tricks are T3?
    ...

    Eh, Tier 3 was a stretch, anyway. I think I was going for versatility?

    Meh.
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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    I'm aware of the fact that you can get a doombringer champion to be competent, but you can also build a reasonably capable truenamer/monk/disciple of the word (inability to be targeted is surprisingly difficult to get around, and very easy for that build to get its hands on). If you're willing to go far enough, you can get a commoner to be ridiculously good. And I'm not convinced by the argument that you can make it good by adding enough prestige classes - ur priest called.

    I'm sure that you can use knowledge devotion to decent effect, but it might be hard to keep your int high enough to do that, your wis and cha high enough for your spells, and your str and con high enough to fight. If you have no int bonus, only the skill ranks, then even with the education bonus, you'll have a half chance to get a +1 and a half chance to get a +2.

    As for grafting other spells onto the list: it's possible, it'll always be possible. I suppose I could have snuck a line saying "Unlike a sorcerer, a doombringer champion cannot learn spells that are not on their spell list," but ehh. I feel that keeping it a newbie trap rather than putting stuff in to stop it working in a veteran rules lawyer's hands is more in the spirit of things, you know?
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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    I hated 3.5's tendency to offer you 200+ prestige classes of which about 5-10 are actually viable and the others are traps or downgrades. Which is worse than a terrible base class because you ruin a perfectly good - and probably fun - character with it.

    1) Have ridiculous feat tax: Say, Skill Focus (Handle Animal), Endurance and Toughness

    2) Does not advance spellcasting on every level for a class that needs it.

    3) Double or triple up on boni the character may already have: i.e. Darkvision or breath weapons

    4) Confuse you with miniscule skill or combat improvements instead of fully fledged class features: Sure I'll take a bonus on hunting down undead instead of another d6 on my sneak attack.

    5) Abilities that require a combat setup that you prev. didn't need or add in boni that aren't required off your character : I.e. offering a Paladinesque character Sneak attack or the wizards suddenly getting turn undead.

    6) Important abilities that do not work on anything above your HD: Most monsters that are not cannon fodder/minions are a bit above your HD.
    Does anyone care enough to calculate the force of said explosion?

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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    I'd like to second including a lot of heavily DM-dependent features.

    Here's my own addition to the discussion:

    Abilities that give you worse or limited versions of what you could do anyway:

    Look to 5th edition's Grappler feat for inspiration. It allows you to restrain a grappled creature at the cost of a full action and restraining yourself in the process. Restrained is a pretty powerful condition, so a way to dish it out an unlimited number of times per day looks pretty appealing.

    However, when discussing this with experienced players one quickly realize that the ability it gives you is only useful if your party has lots of ranged attackers, since you could normally knock a grappled enemy prone for almost all the same effects, at a fraction of the action economy, with less feat investment, and without restraining yourself in the process.

    So, take more powerful mundane (as in, any combatant can attempt these without special features) ability combos and action options, and brew up similar but slightly worse versions to give your class.
    Last edited by Potato_Priest; 2017-11-24 at 01:47 AM.
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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    This thread is incredible for a designer, in the sense that it easily lists what you should NEVER do in designing a d20-based character class...

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    My list, moving away from D&D 3.5:

    1. Allow powerful effects contingent on a bunch of dice rolls that are layered deceptively. Every time your warrior hits someone, they can roll a d6 and do double damage if it lands on a 6 as a critical hit (WOWEE! Double damage! This is actually only about a 17% increase in total damage over time)... and if you get your critical hit, you can upgrade that to a heroic hit if you roll another d6 and it lands on a 6 (WOWEE! Quadruple Damage! This is actually only about an 8% further increase).

    2. Give a class counter-synergies, and then ask that class to focus separately on each element of the counter-synergy. Your archer can shoot poison arrows, fire arrows, and freezing arrows... only he can only shoot one every round! Only you need to put points into poison arrow shooting or fire arrow shooting or freezing arrow shooting to improve each separately! Wowee! Look at that flexibility!

    3. Allow a class to have very powerful personal defenses, but no way to threaten the enemy. You can have a character that barely tickles an opponent when he hits, but he can also become an unkillable rock on the battlefield... that way all the enemies will ignore him and kill all his friends!

    4. Make a class extremely good at one thing to the detriment of everything else, and that one thing is at best only a marginal part of the game. So your character is the strongest, toughest, fastest fighter out of any other character... our game is about impartial discussion and coming up with nonviolent solutions.

    5. Have a class just plain fail to scale as well as everyone else. Oh man. People are terrible at understanding how scaling works, and this is so easy to hide.
    It always amazes me how often people on forums would rather accuse you of misreading their posts with malice than re-explain their ideas with clarity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    Preparing the doombringer champion's spells requires one hour of interrupted meditation, which must take place immediately after a good night's sleep.
    I really hope you did this on purpose . Totally up to GM abuse interpretation on what properly interrupts your meditation, and whether you can interrupt yourself or need an outside disturbance. I'm imagining a Doombringer Champion during his morning meditation, just sitting there and thinking "Why is nobody coming by and ask me stupid questions. I'll never get my spells if no one disturbs me."

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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    Quote Originally Posted by Lalliman
    Features that can be arbitrarily negated by the DM
    That includes all abilities in a game like D&D.

    Reason 1): it is the GM's task to design a scenario. The GM can design the scenario to play into the weaknesses of any class.
    Reason 2): all builds are admissible as NPCs. This includes all rules-as-stupidly-interpreted infinite loops, functionally omniscient and omnipotent buids, as well as gods. Within the game, a GM is literally God the Almighty. And Pun-Pun. And the Wish and the Word. And d2 Crusader. And whatever that build was that can travel backwards in time and retroactively prevent Pun-Pun from happening.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    Thundering Bolt (Su)
    A doombringer champion always has the ability to call upon magical energy in the form of a thundering bolt. The doombringer champion can produce a thundering bolt once per round as a move action. Any time before the end of the next round, the doombringer champion can throw the thundering bolt at an enemy (the thundering bolt has a range increment of 10 feet when thrown). If she does, the damage dealt by the bolt is 1d4 plus the doombringer champion's strength modifier. The die size of the thundering bolt increases every 4 levels, up to a d12 at 17th level (this information is shown on Table: The Doombringer Champion). Further, a doombringer champion of a size other than medium launches thundering bolts which deal an appropriate amount of damage. For example, a large doombringer champion would deal 3d6 points of damage (plus her strength modifier) at 17th level and above.

    You can use a thundering bolt's wicked, serrated edge as a melee weapon, but it's not designed for such use and you take a -4 penalty on attack rolls to use it in this way. The doombolt disappears when it strikes an enemy or at the end of the round after its creation.

    [...]

    Bolt from the Blue
    At eighth level, a doombringer champion is often able to surprise enemies with the sudden creation of a thundering bolt. While only one can be created per round, a doombringer champion of at least eighth level can create a thundering bolt as a free action.
    On reading this, I was thinking: How about giving the class Skirmish (with TB only, of course), and then removing Bolt from the Blue. Good trade, right? It's bonus damage!
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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    Let me add one that is quite abstract, but applicable across systems. (Also, encapsulates some of the already-named examples, for example, the Truenamer).

    Make a class that's obviously powerfull on paper, but difficult to actually play succesfully.

    Watch unskilled players periodically fail as they struggle to make used of their supposed might.

    Bonus pointer for devious GMs: you can achieve this with a real class, by being better at playing the game while pitting that class against another example of itself. (See also: Chess.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    That includes all abilities in a game like D&D.

    Reason 1): it is the GM's task to design a scenario. The GM can design the scenario to play into the weaknesses of any class.
    Reason 2): all builds are admissible as NPCs. This includes all rules-as-stupidly-interpreted infinite loops, functionally omniscient and omnipotent buids, as well as gods. Within the game, a GM is literally God the Almighty. And Pun-Pun. And the Wish and the Word. And d2 Crusader. And whatever that build was that can travel backwards in time and retroactively prevent Pun-Pun from happening.
    Dungeons & Dragons Online has a nifty way of balancing casters by giving bosses various immunities that make most "I win" spells only useful for trash (and thus wildly changes what spells casters bring). Various bosses have there name displayed in different color text, and the immunities vary from "guy who just barely warrants a name" to "raid boss". In general the wholesale changes to D&D rules are so extreme to make bringing it to the tabletop impossible (don't ask how many hitpoints mobs have, nor how many spells casters can keep firing), but I'd recommend at least looking up the immunities list.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ATHATH View Post
    Yeah, but they're full casters. Even though their spell list is terrible, they still have access to Sanctified spells, spell list-expanding techniques, and the things on this list.
    I'll admit I'm not familiar with all the possibilities of those methods, but the ones in that link don't look much better than what (say) warlocks or bards can do, and it wouldn't surprise me if the same was true for many of the others.
    Full casters aren't powerful because they have 9th-level spell slots; they're powerful because of the spells they can put in them.
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    Default Re: Making an innocuously terrible class

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    Give a class counter-synergies, and then ask that class to focus separately on each element of the counter-synergy. Your archer can shoot poison arrows, fire arrows, and freezing arrows... only he can only shoot one every round! Only you need to put points into poison arrow shooting or fire arrow shooting or freezing arrow shooting to improve each separately! Wowee! Look at that flexibility!
    There is a very, very great temptation for me to go on a rant about Diablo II's Amazon here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Firest Kathon View Post
    I really hope you did this on purpose . Totally up to GM abuse interpretation on what properly interrupts your meditation, and whether you can interrupt yourself or need an outside disturbance. I'm imagining a Doombringer Champion during his morning meditation, just sitting there and thinking "Why is nobody coming by and ask me stupid questions. I'll never get my spells if no one disturbs me."
    I didn't (I made this during the middle an insomnia-related all-nighter), but I'm leaving it in there for the mental image.

    Quote Originally Posted by ExLibrisMortis View Post
    On reading this, I was thinking: How about giving the class Skirmish (with TB only, of course), and then removing Bolt from the Blue. Good trade, right? It's bonus damage!
    Maybe too obvious. You need to make the illusion sustainable, and while people will swear by the amazing power of getting free ammunition, they won't be so easily fooled by something quite so obvious as actually forcing them to use multiple turns, in a confusing way, to do that.
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