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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Character class balancing

    So I'm running a module soon, my first 3.5. Me and my friends have played first edition for many years now, and thanks to oots, I decided to give it a shot. I've read online and figured out what classes and such are good, what are bad, all that jazz.

    Now, since none of the people that will be playing 3.5 have played it before, I would like to see about balancing the classes out. I've already worked on monk, because frankly, who in their right mind would give them tongue of the sun and moon? As for other classes, I am looking for idea's, particularly casters (who are generally to good), and melee fighters, which are generally somewhat lacking.

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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Flubadubdub View Post
    So I'm running a module soon, my first 3.5. Me and my friends have played first edition for many years now, and thanks to oots, I decided to give it a shot. I've read online and figured out what classes and such are good, what are bad, all that jazz.

    Now, since none of the people that will be playing 3.5 have played it before, I would like to see about balancing the classes out. I've already worked on monk, because frankly, who in their right mind would give them tongue of the sun and moon? As for other classes, I am looking for idea's, particularly casters (who are generally to good), and melee fighters, which are generally somewhat lacking.
    For spellcasters, I prefer to just cut off or edit the problematic spells that allow for cheesy exploits (like fabricate, or scry/teleport, or any of the core polymorph stuff, including Alter Self...) and then they're on a much more manageable level. For melee, I use certain homebrew variants and Tome of Battle.

    There are some homebrew resources I like to use here:
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=63565

    There's also links to the Problematic Spells and Problematic Powers threads there, which list, discuss, and propose solutions for various problematic abilities.
    Last edited by OneWinged4ngel; 2007-11-20 at 09:49 PM.

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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    Well, everything on the forums is a little overestimated. In an average session where nobody is intentionally overpowered, about levels 5-10, all the classes are all almost completely balanced. Fighters soak up damage, Clerics heal, Druids do nature stuff, Wizards do support and some damage, and Rogues sneak around. Casters aren't always super powered, at levels 1-3, Wizards especially get just two or three moments, "I cast Light! I cast Magic Missile! I cast Light again! Ooops, I'm out of uses for the day!"

    So anyway, 5th level is good.
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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    Quote Originally Posted by TheLogman View Post
    Well, everything on the forums is a little overestimated. In an average session where nobody is intentionally overpowered, about levels 5-10, all the classes are all almost completely balanced. Fighters soak up damage, Clerics heal, Druids do nature stuff, Wizards do support and some damage, and Rogues sneak around. Casters aren't always super powered, at levels 1-3, Wizards especially get just two or three moments, "I cast Light! I cast Magic Missile! I cast Light again! Ooops, I'm out of uses for the day!"

    So anyway, 5th level is good.
    ...Uhhh, not really. A smart wizard isn't casting magic missile or light, and a smart cleric isn't just healing. It's not even an issue of build. It's just playing intelligently.
    Last edited by OneWinged4ngel; 2007-11-20 at 11:15 PM.

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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    Quote Originally Posted by OneWinged4ngel View Post
    ...Uhhh, not really. A smart wizard isn't casting magic missile or light, and a smart cleric isn't just healing. It's not even an issue of build. It's just playing intelligently.
    WHAT? Light and Magic Missile are some incredibly powerful spells if used right..

    Also classes tend to be balanced, just have to be played correctly. Yes, spell casters tend to be powerful, but they are limited at the same time.
    Last edited by Enguhl; 2007-11-20 at 11:22 PM.

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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Enguhl View Post
    WHAT? Light and Magic Missile are some incredibly powerful spells if used right..
    No. They aren't.

    Also classes tend to be balanced, just have to be played correctly.
    If you have to intentionally nerf yourself and intentionally decide to take an action that you KNOW to be a suboptimal choice, then it's obviously not balanced. That's you creating artificial restrictions and pretending the problem's not there. Likewise, you also know it's unbalanced when some abilities will never see use.
    Last edited by OneWinged4ngel; 2007-11-20 at 11:30 PM.

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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    I can't count the number of times that the mage of the party magic missled the bad guy, and all of a sudden, bam, fight's over.

    Light shouldn't even be mentioned. Who want's to keep lighting torches? C'mon, adventurers don't waste precious carrying capacity on flammable wooden sticks, they use weightless magic on their weapons. No, light isn't used in battle unless you're ambushed at night, 'cause otherwise, you've already cast it.

    Sorry, didn't mean to rant.
    Why is it the best campaign ideas happen when you're sitting down to someone elses game?

    Pun-Pun is an example of the worst case scenario. Never, ever, push your DM that far.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Idea Man
    I can't count the number of times that the mage of the party magic missled the bad guy, and all of a sudden, bam, fight's over.
    But when the badguys aren't feeble old women or toddlers...

    A crossbow does more damage and doesn't consume half of your daily resources, A lesser Acid Orb scales better, and an Enlarge Person spell will likely produce more damage in a combat.

    Light shouldn't even be mentioned. Who want's to keep lighting torches? C'mon, adventurers don't waste precious carrying capacity on flammable wooden sticks, they use weightless magic on their weapons. No, light isn't used in battle unless you're ambushed at night, 'cause otherwise, you've already cast it.
    Why not something like Daze that can actually contribute when you need help instead of merely providing a situational gimmic?

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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Idea Man View Post
    I can't count the number of times that the mage of the party magic missled the bad guy, and all of a sudden, bam, fight's over.

    Light shouldn't even be mentioned. Who want's to keep lighting torches? C'mon, adventurers don't waste precious carrying capacity on flammable wooden sticks, they use weightless magic on their weapons. No, light isn't used in battle unless you're ambushed at night, 'cause otherwise, you've already cast it.

    Sorry, didn't mean to rant.
    You want to keep lighting torches because one torch lasts for an hour. One casting of light is 10 min/level. By the time you can cast a Light that gives you the same use as a torch, you can cast Continual Flame on a couple of rocks and be set for light sources for forever.

    Magic Missile is nice for its 'works on everything' qualities. The damage it does is quite sub-par; if you could drop an enemy by using it, chances are the rest of your party had already beaten up said enemy to get it in Missile range. And chances are the rest of the party would be perfectly capable of taking down those last 5-30 HP, which means you might have wasted a spell slot casting that Missile on something the Fighter or Cleric would have smashed on their next turn anyway.

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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    Er... didn't mean to do it but I just turned the thread into a Magic Missile debate.. sorry.

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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    Its alright, in first edition, magic missile was broken beyond belief. In a round, there was 10 segments, and magic missile only took one segment. Also there was no limit to the # of missiles that came out. So a wizard could drop anyone with 3 first level spells.

    But yeah, problematic spells for sure. As for druids, I feel they are rather overpowered. Their animal companion becomes crazy (a t-rex )

    btw, thanks for the link, keep the ideas comin

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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    My suggestion would merely be tome of battle, save that might be a bit much for fresh players. Perhaps just suggest decent builds for the melee type, explain the benefits of the improved trip feat to the fighter, etc?

    Usually new arcane casters go for the damage spells, so you should be good there. The only thing I can think of is to disallow, or viciously kill any attempts at playing a driud.

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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    Druids are a funny class. They're incredibly powerful and they optimize themselves.

    Unlike the other powerful classes however, they advertise their strengths. Wizard players will probably come in throwing 1d4+1 Magic Missiles around, Cleric players will probably spend their time Curing Light Wounds, newbie Fighters will probably jump in Sword-and-Board-ing a Weapon Focused sword/axe/hammer. Druids, though, are going to intuitively turn into giant bears and maul the bad guys while their Animal Companions are better optimized in the MM than the Fighter will be in the hands of a newbie.

    I would support Shapechange for all Druids for that reason (the prepackaged optimization) and for the book-keeping of the Animal Companion. Rangers do that best; I think that they're really the best-designed beginner classes--they start straight-forward enough: Hit things/Shoot things at first level. It's clean and intuitive; players will know what they're expected to do. Then the class progresses to start using skills more and more (all the while providing bonus feats so the player doesn't accidentally mangle their build too badly). Then, finally, spellcasting is introduced along with a second set of statistics to track (the player isn't thrown into the role of digging through piles of Animal Companion/Character/Summon statistics until they're familiar with the basic game mechanics).

    ...I think I had a point somewhere. Huh.

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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Temp View Post
    I would support Shapechange for all Druids for that reason
    Do you mean shapeshift, the PHB2 alternate class ability? Shapechage is the 9th level polymorph.
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    Dhavaer, your ideas are like candy from the sky, sprinkled lightly with cinnamon.
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    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Dhavaer
    Shapechage is the 9th level polymorph.
    Given the comprehensibility of that last post, being off by so slight a margin surprises me.

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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Flubadubdub View Post
    I've already worked on monk, because frankly, who in their right mind would give them tongue of the sun and moon?
    Wait wait wait. Did you just nerf the monk? Because that would just be hilarious.

    If you instead changed them so that they don't suck or look stupid, we might be interested in hearing what you did.
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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    As for monk, naa I didn't nerf it, monks are awesome

    Bear in mind that I've played first edition for about 10 years.

    For one, I gave em x6 skills instead of 4, monks in first edition had thieving abilities, and even in 3.5 it appears they have kept to a more scouting char rather than a straight up melee character, and they certainly aren't gonna have a high int since they already need wisdom dexterity strength and constitution badly.

    I got rid of the bloody tongue of the sun and moon

    remember, I am a first edition player for the next 2, so I really dunno if they will be easily abused beyond belief, but I guess we'll see

    Level 8, as if always under a freedom of movement spell

    level 14, Immune to ability damage

    from what I've heard, their grappling is useless, so rather than making it better/possibly running the risk of grappling being overabused, I'd figure just make it not affect em.

    as for the ability damage, we'll, monks stats are pretty spread out as is, and even a bit of con damage can send their hp down the drain.

    Both of those will increase its usefulness against a wizard (although any wizard who flies, and the monk can't reach, is still gonna own them)

    I also made it so that their unarmed strikes are treated as either a light or one handed weapon, whichever better, to avoid the stupid -4

    thats basically it, a straight up fighter or barbarian, even a ranger, should technically be able to beat them in a straight up fight, but they still have their use, their increased speed and not being grappled/magically held make em a decent scout, their immunity later on to ability damage also should be somewhat helpful against a mage who goes "woops, no strength for you, no grappling me" or "opps, lets get rid of all your con, so that you die in one hit"

    Its my first attempt at 3.5, so like I said, this could turn out really bad, but I couldn't believe that wizards gave them fall any distance and tongue of sun and moon, since a low level wizard can do just exactly that.

    I also am considering the monk be immune to - levels as well with abilities, but I'm not sure on that one.

    Idea's on the whole thing anyone?
    Last edited by Flubadubdub; 2007-11-21 at 06:20 PM.

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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    As this is your first 3.5 game, I wouldn't worry too much about balance, especially if your players don't try to break the game. As people in the thread have already mentioned, the druid is the only class that advertises the areas in which it is too strong.

    Neither the wizard nor the cleric tend to be dramatically powerful when played by people new to the system. As a matter of fact, they are frequently shown up by fighters, barbarians, and paladins, all of whom have a relatively easy initial learning curve. As some have said, while the casters are not well balanced, they can be played under-potential and fit in quite nicely with the party. This even goes for the druid, though I recommend you carefully consider whether you wish to allow the feat Natural Spell.

    If a wizard specializes in conjuration,, divination, transmutation, or illusion, take note. These specializations do not inherently create overshadowing characters, but they can do so very easily, as they are the four most powerful specializations.

    Conversely, if you have a fighter who is taking cleave-type or two-weapon fighting feats, these are suboptimal choices, and may hurt the character. The same is true of a rogue who focuses on archery, as one of the main ways to gain sneak attack damage is through flanking in melee.

    Now, I'm assuming that since this is your first 3.5 game you're running light on the supplements. If you are using any supplements, and a player asks to use a class from one of them, don't worry. Nearly all of the base classes in supplements are below the power level of the core casters.

    If you have the PHB II, consider the wildshape variant druid. I haven't seen one in action, but I've heard that the variant is much more balanced than the core druid.

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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    Let's see, here's my "quick fix" that assumes that you don't have any books except Core and the PHB II.

    Barbarian: ... no change, I guess.

    Bard: Give him a d8 hit die and Evasion at level 7. Also a Bonus Feat every 5 levels, chosen from the Fighter bonus feat list. Replace Inspire Courage, Inspire Competence, Inspire Greatness, and Inspire Heroics with the auras of a Marshal. Ban any of his spells that are overpowered. And of course for goodness sake get rid of the default Diplomacy rules (use, for example, these).

    Cleric: Use the Spontaneous Casting variant. Make Save DCs for his spells depend on Charisma rather than Wisdom. Lower hit die to d6 and remove medium heavy armor proficiency (but some domains should grant these: War gives heavy, Strength gives Medium, etc.). Boost skill points to 4+Int per level. When you're liberally banning overpowered spells, don't ban Divine Power entirely; just make it only accessible through the War Domain, not through the general Cleric list.

    Druid: Use the Spontaneous Casting variant. Use the Shapechange Variant in the PHB II, but still allow the Druid to get an Animal Companion as if he were a default Ranger (i.e. starting at 4th level, growing at half speed as he levels). Hmmm. This still leaves the Druid as a powerful class, but I'm not sure what else to do to it.

    Fighter: Not sure what to say without doing a huge rework of the Fighter, like the Bears With Lasers fix (linked above). Well, at least give him 4+Int skill points/level.

    Monk: 6+Int skill points/level. Flurry adds an attack to any standard action attack, not just a full attack. Improve his SR by 5, when he gets it. Hmmm ... there's lots more I could say about the Monk (even mixing the Psychic Warrior into him like I did on the Homebrew board), but these seem to be the most important and simple changes.

    Paladin: This really shouldn't be a base class. I was sad to hear they're keeping it that way in 4E. Use the Prestige Paladin.

    Ranger: Give him Trapfinding at first level and Disable Device as a class skill. Let him cast spells spontaneously (maybe even from the whole Core Ranger Spell List, which isn't very big). Boost his Animal Companion so that his "effective Druid level" is (Ranger Level -2) instead of (1/2 * Ranger Level).

    Rogue: Let Sneak Attack work at 1/2 effectiveness vs. things that are immune to crits, without having to use a feat or magic item to make it work. Give him a capstone ability of some sort ... but really he needs the least work of any Core base class (which is a sad statement).

    Sorcerer: Give him a bonus Heritage or Metamagic Feat every 5 levels, plus Eschew Materials at 1st level. Take away the ridiculous "full-round Metamagic" rule, and give him 4+Int skill points/level. Then ... nerf the heck out of his spell list, as you're going to do anyway for the Wizard:

    Wizard: He's a very well-designed class, really, except that his spellcasting is just too powerful. So go through the Wizard spell list (and all the others, really) and nerf anything that needs it. Oh, and I think Diviners should have to ban two schools, just like all other specialist wizards.
    • Some spells should be gone forever: Celerity, Shapechange, Polymorph Any Object.
    • Some spells just need clearer, more limited guidelines of what they are able to do. Shrink Item or Greater Shadow Evocation, for example.
    • Some spells should just be a significantly higher level. Fly at 6th level wouldn't be too crazy (with Overland Flight, then, at 9th level). Alter Self might not be broken if it were 5th level, or Polymorph at 8th or 9th level. Invisibility could be 3rd or 4th level, and Greater Invisibility 6th level or so.
    • Some spells will be nicely cut down to scale if they just have a casting time of 1 round instead of 1 standard action. (Try this, for example, on Grease or Solid Fog.) Some need an even greater casting time boost: Teleport should not be an in-combat spell. It should be an out-of-combat utility that takes 5 minutes to cast (and is a 7th-level spell or so). Many other spells that seem more like rituals could get the same treatment.
    • Maybe some spells need durations changed to Concentration, but I'm having trouble coming up with examples.
    • Some spells need expensive material components or XP components, like maybe a 10-gp cost for Haste. 100-gp cost for Greater Invisibility. You get the idea.


    This isn't perfect, but it helps.
    Last edited by Draz74; 2007-11-21 at 08:33 PM.
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    Default Re: Character class balancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    Let's see, here's my "quick fix" that assumes that you don't have any books except Core and the PHB II.

    SNIP
    This seems to be fairly well-reasoned, though I do have some points of disagreement. However, I would not recommend anything this extensively changed as a first game of the system. System familiarity should come before dramatic system alteration in my opinion. That way you get to know which changes you think you would or wouldn't like. And the fact is that non-houseruled 3.5 is very playable. It can be broken very easily by experienced players, but if players are roughly the same skill level as each other and don't want to break it, then they don't have to break it.

    And as for the collection of house rules by Draz, the main thing I disagree with is your comments on the wizard spells. Quite frankly, you seem to go too far, especially with regard to low-level spells that keep the wizard (and sorcerer of course) going at levels when they are not overpowered. I don't see the fly and invisibility lines as problematic, for one thing, and grease is one of the only things a low-level wizard has going for him. I could see maybe upping the casting time of stinking cloud and cloudkill. And I know some DMs hate it for its ability to mess up plots, but I don't have a problem with teleport.

    The alter self-polymorph line definitely has potential for abuse, and celerity is right out. Most of the wizard spells I have a problem with are either those which are too open (polymorph, gate) or those which circumvent normal limitations (celerity, assay resist, orbs).

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