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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Giving classes extra skill points

    I'm contemplating giving most or all classes an extra 2 skill points per level.

    The main reason is that you tend to get cookie-cutter characters as regards SPs, because those with very few often have 2 or 3 skills they need to function (like casters with Concentration, Spellcraft and Knowledge (Arcana, Religion or Nature)) and those with lots often have quite a few skills they almost certainly want (for example, a great many Rogues want Spot, Listen, Hide, Move Silently, Tumble and UMD). I'd like players to have a couple of SPs free to use for something different to customise their characters.

    There's also the fact that in highly MAD classes like the Monk and Paladin, Intelligence tends to be a dump stat perforce, meaning that they don't tend to get any extra SPs that way. The Paladin in particular gets screwed by this as they only have 2 SPs to start with.

    I'm also considering giving some classes who have very few class skills (Fighter, I'm looking at you) a couple more so they have something to spend them on.

    Has anyone ever done anything similar? Did it make the game better or worse?

    Would doing this affect game balance much? I can see it would make some prestige classes easier to qualify for, and Knowledge Devotion would become even more valuable, but these don't seem too much of a problem. Is there anything game-breaking it would open up/ make much easier?
    Last edited by Biggus; 2019-05-21 at 06:53 PM.

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    Exclamation Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    In my games Fighters and Knights have 4 skill points/level, and an expanded skill list. I will hopefully get around to doing so for some other classes.

    I'm firmly of the belief that no non-caster should be limited to 2 skill points/level.

    Saying that someone reading RAW differently than you is "home brewing or house ruling, but that's fine" doesn't make you right, it just makes you seem pompous.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    In my games Fighters and Knights have 4 skill points/level, and an expanded skill list. I will hopefully get around to doing so for some other classes.

    I'm firmly of the belief that no non-caster should be limited to 2 skill points/level.
    Interesting, what extra class skills do you give them?

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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggus View Post
    Interesting, what extra class skills do you give them?
    I don't have my document with me at the moment: I'll try to post when I get home.

    With Knight, basically they get the Aristocrat skill list...

    Saying that someone reading RAW differently than you is "home brewing or house ruling, but that's fine" doesn't make you right, it just makes you seem pompous.

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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    I house rule splitting the skills by ability scores (except for constitution). Thus, characters have about 5x as many skill points (using each ability score modifier for separate pools), but they cannot move it to another pool unless all of the skills are capped out.

    The whole point of my house rule is to get ride of the INT Single Attribute Dependency classes dominating the skill monkey role.

    Edit: Cross-Class Skills gives your BAB instead of 1/2 rank. Thus, Full BAB and 3/4 BAB classes gains better than 1/2 BAB classes.
    Last edited by HouseRules; 2019-05-21 at 07:37 PM.
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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    Personally in my games I do the following:

    Class skills are no longer affected by int. You gain 1.5* the normal skills per level. So Rogues get 12/level, Wizards get 3.

    Classes who at this point are only receiving 3 skills/level and do not have 9th level spellcasting instead gain 6 skills/level.

    Everyone now additionally gains 2+int mod skill ranks that may be spent exclusively on 'background' skills (in my games defined as Perform, Profession, Craft, and Knowledge Skills)




    As an alternative the skill ranks based on attributes someone floated above is one I have seen that I like in theory.
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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    My favorite skill hack is Skill Groups. It sorts the skills into groups, e.g. Perception has Spot, Listen, Hide, Move Silently and Skulduggery has Sleight of Hand, Use Rope, Open Lock, Disable Device, Bluff, Disguise but does not consolidate or merge them.

    Every class gets a number of ranks (equal to their normal skill ranks per level divided by 2) to spend on skills in each group separately, so ranks in Appraise or Profession (Civilization group) don't cost you ranks in Spot or Listen (Perception group). Int bonuses grant bonus ranks into any skill, and Int penalties reduce the total number of points overall (so you get less points in some groups), but skill ranks per level matter significantly more since they apply to every group.

    I like how it forces a little versatility onto characters. I'd still recommend making it so no noncaster has less than 4 ranks per level (2 ranks per level per group using skill groups) though and just letting everything be a class skill for anyone.

    Spoiler: Skill Groups
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaelik
    D&D has a lot of ****ing skills. And those range from the absolutely bull**** game breaking such as Diplomacy and UMD, to the essential such as Spot, Listen, Spellcraft, to the absolutely ****ing worthless such as Craft, Forgery, and Appraise. To be precise, it has 36 ****ing skills even before getting into things like Knowledge and Craft being 10 different skills, or Autohypnosis. Meanwhile characters may have somewhere between 1 and maybe 10 skills they can put ranks in. Unsurprisingly, appraise is rarely even given the time of day.

    So this system 1) Gives people more skills. 2) Gives them skills distributed across different groups, so that the main change isn't that people that already had Spot and Listen add Spellcraft to their list.

    You should probably use something like the Pathfinder, Class skills get +3 ranks at level 1, and non class skills have a cap equal to Character Level, but everything is one for one, because people are probably going to be putting a lot of ranks into non class skills. Or you could plausibly give everyone all skills as class skills, though it might make the results more samey.

    Level 1 Skills

    At level 1 you either get four times the number to put into each skill group like you always would as a 3.5 character, or you get a +3 training bonus to each skill you train at level 1. Adjust skill prereqs for classes if you do so.

    Class skills

    You should just assume that everyone has the same class skills, but that you either don't get the +3 training in things that are not class skills but can have the same ranks and cost the same, or you can have the non class skills have a cap three less than the class skills, and cost the same.

    Skills on level up

    The first thing to do is half their class based skill points, so Rogues go from 8 to 4, Bards from 6 to 3, Druids from 4 to 2, and Wizards drop to 1. This new number is then the number of skill ranks to get on level up in every single skill group.

    After you have made your choices based on skill group, you then move on to Int based skill points, which are flexible across skill groups. If you have an Int penalty, find one or more skills you just put ranks in, and get rid of that(those) rank(s). If you have an Int bonus, you can assign those skill points to any skills, ignoring the skill groups.

    This makes int penalties much less penalizing, because if the main disadvantage to having an Int of 6 is that you don't have any ranks in appraise or Craft or survival, you are going to care very little. On the other hand, Int bonuses remain important, because very few people can get ranks in Listen, Spot, and Spellcraft without an Int bonus.

    The skill groups are as follows:

    Perception:
    Hide, MS, Spot, Listen, Spellcraft, Search, Sense Motive

    Knowledge:
    All knowledge skills, taken individually.

    Skulduggery:
    Sleight of Hand, Use Rope, Open Lock, Disable Device, Bluff, Disguise

    Interaction:
    Sense Motive, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Heal, Intimidate, Speak Language

    Physical Fitness:
    Balance, Concentration, Climb, Escape Artist, Jump, Ride, Tumble, Swim

    Wilderness:
    Handle Animal, Survival, Ride, Swim, Climb, Jump, Heal

    Civilization:
    Appraise, Craft (all skills taken individually), Decipher Script, Forgery, Perform (However you want to use Perform), Profession (all skills taken individually)

    Not a skill group: UMD.

    That's right, if you want UMD, better spend a precious Int bonus point on it.

    Sample Characters

    Wizard the Wizard

    He is a filthy Grey Elf Wizard with an 20 Int at level 1, I apply retroactive skill points because I don't feel like doing math. At level 8 he has an Int of 22 inherent. Assuming you still care about class skills, but use a pathfinderish system he has the following ranks:

    Spellcraft 11, Knowledge Arcana 11, Disguise 8, Speaks either 5 or 8 additional languages, Concentration 11, Ride 8, Craft (Alchemy) 11

    One from each skillgroup.

    Then, From his Int Bonus: Knowledge Religion 11, Knowledge Planes 11, Knowledge Nature 11, Knowledge Dungeoneering 11, Spot 8, Listen 8

    Druid the Druid

    He is an Anthopomorphic Bat Druid, or something else, it doesn't matter. He has an Int of 14, because he doesn't care about Str or Dex, because he is a Druid. He probably also has a Cha of 14, because again, why not, so he is more prone to Cha based checks than Mr. Wizard. He is level 10.

    Assuming Pathfinderish system, he has ranks from class of:

    Spot 13, Listen 13, Knowledge Nature 13, Knowledge Geography 10, Disguise 10, Bluff 10, Diplomacy 13, Sense Motive 10, Concentration 13, Escape Artist 10, Handle Animal 13, Survival 13, Craft Arms and Armor 13 (two different skills)

    Then from Int: Spellcraft 13, MS 10.

    Rogue the Rogue

    He is a rogue, so he doesn't really have a lot in the way of spare points to put in Int, but he makes room for a 14, because ****ing UMD and Spellcraft bby. He is level 15 because why not.

    Perception: Hide 18, MS 18, Spot 18, Search 18
    Knowledge: Local 18, History 15, Architecture 10, Planes 15, Arcana 5
    Skulduggery: Disguise 18, Bluff 18, Disable Device 18, Sleight of Hand 18
    Interaction: Gather Information 18, Diplomacy 18, Sense Motive 18, and All The Languages.
    Physical Fitness: Escape Artist 18, Tumble 18, Balance 18, Climb 18
    Wilderness: Ride 15, Swim 18, Survival 15, Handle Animal 15
    Civilization: Appraise 18, Forgery 18, Decipher Script 18, Craft Traps 18
    From Int: Spellcraft 15, UMD 18
    Last edited by radthemad4; 2019-05-21 at 10:41 PM.

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    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    My system is to give all classes two extra skill points a level and eliminate the notion of a cross-class skill. Any class can take any skill, some of the skill lists are silly anyway. Since the limitations of level plus 3 still exists, I've found that while some players max out a few skills, most players take a variety of skills. Instead of turning Intelligence into a dump state, I've found that Intelligence and Charisma become more valuable because they effect the roleplaying skills like Knowledge and Diplomacy. If your game doesn't give the players much of an opportunity to role-play or do things outside of combat, I'm not sure that adding more skill points is necessary.

    In the current system, the one who really suffers, as usual, is the Fighter. He has so few skill points to begin with and isn't allowed to take the skills a Fighter might actually have (Knowledge: Nobility & Royalty--which army and knight is wearing which coat of arms, Knowledge: Architecture & Engineering--which includes knowing about storming/defending castles, or even Profession: Sailor--essential for every Viking), so that if you want to keep the book's system it's necessary for him to multi-class and take Rogue or Bard. Even with a two extra skill points per level, it's difficult to make a Fighter who's capable of being a general.

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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    I give my players some 'bonus' points at first level with the restriction that they have to be used as a craft or profession. it rounds the character out to be a Vintner or Bowyer, or Blacksmith, or whatever. Some have minor game implications but most just flesh out the character.

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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggus View Post
    Interesting, what extra class skills do you give them?
    From my document:

    The fighter’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Gather
    Information (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (architecture and engineering/
    history/local/nobility and royalty) (Int), Listen (Wis), Perform (weapon drill) (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense
    Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis) and Swim (Str).

    Saying that someone reading RAW differently than you is "home brewing or house ruling, but that's fine" doesn't make you right, it just makes you seem pompous.

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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    tbh more skill points means players start using those skills and asking to use them more, so anything that gives players more is a good thing, just might need to tweak the DCs of some checks is all if they're consistently only doing the things they're good at all the time. (give the wizard a reason to do jump checks!)
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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    Our group gave 2 skill points to everyone but path of war classes, since it looked like they already got more skills than lower tier melee counterparts.

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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    Quote Originally Posted by Malphegor View Post
    (give the wizard a reason to do jump checks!)
    until said wizard learns the fly spell

    For the OP; I've been working on a new TTRPG system of my own for fun and have been pulling things that I've experienced from 3.5 and other TTRPGs with it. Something that I playtested and have found is really great for skills is to separate physical and mental skills, so essentially anything with Strength, Dexterity, Constitution as a key ability score is a physical skill and anything with Intelligence, Wisdome, or Charisma is a mental skill. Skill points are no longer determined solely based on your int score, but instead you get physcial skill points and mental skill points. The number of skill points you get are based on the sum of your physical attributes (strength/dexterity/constitution) and your mental attributes (intelligence/wisdom/charisma) modifiers times a class-based modifier. Classes that rely on physical prowess get a x1.5 modifier on their physical skill points and a x1.0 modifier on their mental ones. "skill monkey" classes get x1.5 on both. Mental focused classes (full spellcasters) get x1.0 on physcial skill points and x1.5 on mental skill points. In the case of Humans or any other race that gets +1 skill point per level, this can be either mental or physical, but does not get multiplied. For odd numbers, round down (9x1.5=13.5 round down to 13).

    Then, run skills like Pathfinder. Each rank costs 1 point, max ranks is character level, class skills get untyped +3 if they have at least 1 rank.

    The last change I made is to allow my players to pick 3 skills they want as permanent class skills. A lot of the time, my players pick the same ones; spot, use magic device, tumble. Those skills are less common for non-skill focused classes and are useful on nearly everyone, but this opens up freedom within character creation that my players really like. In some cases, it lets a single class character qualify for a prestige class on time that they would have otherwise had to dip for, and thus simplifies the system a little. In other cases, it lets the player fit a niche concept they may have wanted, like a dex-based sneaky fighter or something. For Humans, or any other race that gets +1 skill point per level, I let them either take the extra point or they can pick an extra skill to have as a permanent class skill.

    I've found it works really well for me as a DM, my players really like it, and it doesn't change any rules except for skill points per level so it's pretty straightforward for veteran players to pick up on.

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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    Pathfinder has Background Skills. Essentially 2 free skill points per level that can only be spent on things that aren't 'crucial to the game'. It makes players feel better about putting those points in Craft(Basket weaving) they mentioned in their background because those skill points couldn't be used for something more optimized anyway. It's worth considering implementing them in your game.

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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    In the game described in my signature, we ran with 8 extra skill points per level each and it was a lot of fun. Finally some extras to do things beyond the bare essentials.
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    Thanks all for the ideas!

    One modification I'm considering is giving extra skill points to everyone except tier 1 classes. Most of them are Int-based so get plenty of bonus SPs that way, and the Cleric and Druid certainly don't need any help.

    Quote Originally Posted by El'the Ellie View Post
    Pathfinder has Background Skills. Essentially 2 free skill points per level that can only be spent on things that aren't 'crucial to the game'. It makes players feel better about putting those points in Craft(Basket weaving) they mentioned in their background because those skill points couldn't be used for something more optimized anyway. It's worth considering implementing them in your game.
    I like the idea of the skills that don't tend to get taken seeing some use. I'm not sure about Sleight of Hand, and I think Perform should count as an adventuring skill to any class which has Bardic Music or similar, and likewise Handle Animal for any class that gets an animal companion, but apart from that their list looks about right. I might implement this in addition to the extra base SPs or instead of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldariel View Post
    In the game described in my signature, we ran with 8 extra skill points per level each and it was a lot of fun. Finally some extras to do things beyond the bare essentials.
    8? Blimey, it seems I'm worrying unnecessarily about 2...

    I didn't think it would cause any major problems, but if there's one thing I've learned about D&D, it's that there's so often something important you didn't think of that it's always worth canvassing opinions before you make any changes.

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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    In my games Fighters and Knights have 4 skill points/level, and an expanded skill list. I will hopefully get around to doing so for some other classes.

    I'm firmly of the belief that no non-caster should be limited to 2 skill points/level.
    THIS

    All non int based classes in my games get minumum 4 skill points per level.

    I feel a character should be good at 2 or 3 things, half decent at 1 or 2 things, and almost passable at one or two things)

    (you keep 2 skills at your level and a couple or so at about 1/2 to 2/3 of your level, and 1 or 2 things at a quarter of your level )

    I also will add that some classes need access to more SKILLS as well, as you mentioned the poor fighter. He don;t even get spot or sense motive an the fluff states he is supposed to be a guard? some kinda guard that is.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    Dex 13, 4 cross-class skill points and a set of masterwork thieve's tools lets a fighter open an average lock by taking 20. That isn't a significant investment past the first level, you should just invest points cross-class like the book tells you to.
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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    Any time I GM a D&D/PF game, I give all characters a minimum of 4 skill points/level. It's never unbalanced anything.

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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    Quote Originally Posted by Karl Aegis View Post
    Dex 13, 4 cross-class skill points and a set of masterwork thieve's tools lets a fighter open an average lock by taking 20. That isn't a significant investment past the first level, you should just invest points cross-class like the book tells you to.
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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    Quote Originally Posted by Karl Aegis View Post
    Dex 13, 4 cross-class skill points and a set of masterwork thieve's tools lets a fighter open an average lock by taking 20. That isn't a significant investment past the first level, you should just invest points cross-class like the book tells you to.
    8 skill points for a class that on average gets 2 per level is...4 levels worth of skill points so a rather significant investment in my books...
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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    I take a page out of 5e handbook (no pun intended) and use a similar concept for backgrounds. Players choose a background and they get to choose 4 skills (I'm considering 5) out of this list: Appraise, Craft, Decipher Script, Forgery, Knowledge, Perform, Profession, Sleight of Hand, Use Rope. Or they can trade 2 skills for a skill not on that list as long as it still relates to their chosen background. The chosen skills are considered background skills and always have max ranks as they level.

    It's simple, no extra math with added skill points (pick it and go) and helps flesh out their characters (while also keeping up with the math as they level). We also eliminate class skills, so anyone can choose any skill, my players really enjoy the freedom of choice between the expenditure of their skill points combined with background skills. The more the merrier. :)

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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    Quote Originally Posted by El'the Ellie View Post
    Pathfinder has Background Skills. Essentially 2 free skill points per level that can only be spent on things that aren't 'crucial to the game'. It makes players feel better about putting those points in Craft(Basket weaving) they mentioned in their background because those skill points couldn't be used for something more optimized anyway. It's worth considering implementing them in your game.
    I ran a game once that had a rule like this. That particular rule went over pretty well. I also allowed a "fluff feat" every level or two (the specifics are lost to the mists of time), defined as basically "either one of those BS +2/+2 skill feats, a super situational feat like Track, or anything else that you convince me is not just a raw power grab but is instead something that really isn't usually worthy of burning a precious slot on but that would still be neat to have on your sheet." Again, that went over pretty well, so I think it's a good idea if everyone in the group is willing to play nicely.
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    Default Re: Giving classes extra skill points

    I thought about something like this while I was walking the dog yesterday, thinking about some various ways to attack it. The idea I had then was to give you max skill ranks for your level in certain skills that are more-or-less mandatory for your class, and then give a scaling bonus (for example 1/2 class level) to a bunch of skills that are flavorful but not mechanically necessary. Then you would give more of these boosts to martials and less to spellcasters. The goal is to not create a situation where you only have a few skill points that you MUST spend on 2-3 skills that are basically mandatory to function, and also to not punish you for putting points in a fun or flavorful skill.

    For example, for the humble Cavalier, I might do something like this:
    6 + int skill points per level (skill list is very small so I would expand that too but haven't thought that much about this.)
    Free ranks equal to class level in Ride and Handle animal (you get a mount at level 1 so these are pretty much mandatory.)
    A scaling bonus equal to half your class level in all the social skills + the skills you get free ranks in.

    This way, the Cavalier who is supposed to be a mounted knight is always good at riding, and is legitimately good at his social skills without having to spend more resources on that. Even if he chooses not to put points in his social skills, he's still a bit better than the average chump because he picked up a little here and there in noble knight guy school.

    For a wizard, I might do something like this:
    Free ranks equal to class level in Spellcraft
    Scaling bonus equal to half class level in Knowledge (Arcana) and Spellcraft
    Scaling bonus equal to half class level in one skill based on specialization (necromancy might get know (religion), enchantment might get bluff, that sorta thing)

    If a skill not on your list gets a scaling bonus like that it would become a class skill, and you would always be able to make untrained checks in such a skill, so even a wizard with no ranks in arcana would still be noticeably better at it than most, and can make checks as if trained.

    The idea is to give people (especially martials) more skills so that they can do stuff that isn't just fight, and the scaling bonuses serve to make certain classes actually better than other people at "their" skills, so you don't end up with a situation where the cleric who doesn't have survival as a class skill is as good as the ranger at making survival checks just because his higher wis mod makes up the difference.

    Of course, not every character in a class is gonna have the same skills. For example a Rogue might get Stealth ranks for free, but maybe you don't want to make a stealthy rogue, you want him to be more of a brutish enforcer/debt collector kinda fella, then you could switch the free ranks from stealth to intimidate with GM permission. Archetypes of course would also modify these skills, so a horse-less samurai wouldn't get ranks in Ride and Handle Animal, he might get ranks in Athletics (if it existed) and Survival instead.

    It isn't exactly a developed idea, but I think it could work as a bit of a stop-gap treatment for the out-of-combat impaired.
    Known among friends as "Ogres"

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    ...so as we can see, no internal consistency from WotC (unsurprising).

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