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Moldywart
2012-05-30, 12:03 PM
If I ever get around to actually playing the campaign that's "brewing" in the back of my head, there's a couple of house rules I want to try out. I'd like your thoughts their effect on game-balance and general input for fleshing them out.

1) Anti-undead ability for druids
Goal: The campaign will feature a considerable amount of undead. Our group seems to have a strong dislike for playing clerics, so I want to offer an alternative.
Idea: Undeath is a mockery of the natural cycle of life and death, thus druids get the ability to "return to the earth what belongs to the earth". Mechanics would be similar to turning undead, except that they'd get entangled instead of feared. Or they could just straight up take damage - though I think that might proove hard to balance.
Problem: Unlike 3.0, I hear that 3.5 druids are actually borderline overpowered, so I think they should probably have to trade in something for their "recycle undead" ability - I was thinking of the ability to convert their spells into a "Summon Nature's Ally". Thoughts?

2) "oops"-avoiders
Goal: D&D generally doesn't want you to avoid an "oops", but fix it later - if you have a cleric. This has on occasion made campaigns run very strangely and more then once caused some hand-waving by the GM that seriously detracts from the sense of accomplishment. I want to give players a (very scarce) resource that allows them to survive an "oops" without having to be rescued by the GM.
Idea: I was thinking of adapting the Strength/Weakness system from the 3:16 system. Players would define 2 positive and 2 negative character traits at char-gen, and be required to (at least occasionally) roleplay or loose them. Once per chapter (2-3 evenings, probably), they can use a strength to help them win, and a weakness to soften the blow of loosing, if they roleplay well how that particular character trait affects the situation.
Problem: I'm not clear on yet is what that actually means mechanics-wise. Strengths can be pretty straightforward (add +10 to ANY roll, allow to bypass damage reduction for one round, etc.), but weaknesses are harder.

1) Ability score generation
Goal: Combine the random element of rolled scores with *limited* customizability and limit the "luck-factor". Starting with 18 in the primary attribute should be possible, but require sacrificing something.
Idea: Start with a row of six 12s. Roll a d6, add to the first 12, subtract from the second. Repeat for the other 2 pairs. Finally, freely distribute 3 ability points.
Problem: No real sacrifice to get an 18, and people can still get screwed by rolling three 1s. Roll system doesn't have to be *completely* zero-sum.

Sprint
2012-05-30, 12:07 PM
1) 3.5 Druids are already OP
2) No clue
3) No opinion

suncrush
2012-05-30, 12:09 PM
1. 3.5 Druids are already OP
2. Sounds complicated
3. Random stat gen sucks. If you don't like point-buy, do modifier-buy. Like, your stat modifiers have to add up to +6 or less.

Marten
2012-05-30, 12:09 PM
For #2, just steal the 3.5 Eberron Action points.

Peregrine
2012-05-30, 12:10 PM
The Anti-undead ability for druids is the fact that they can ruin just about anyone's day as is.

For an Oops avoider, you could steal the idea of drama dice, or hero points, or anything else, where the players get a limited supply of something that lets them reroll on an important dice.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-05-30, 12:23 PM
1) 3.5e druids are generally considered OP. At the very least, they have a lot of abilities and spells to draw from and won't be hurting for ways to fight zombies. Turning Undead is also IIRC a pretty janky ability. If you want to add some kind of particular "fuck undead" ability I might instead do something like: druids can spontaneously cast Cure spells when used offensively against undead (perhaps as a trade for spontaneously casting animal summons). However, as Cure spells are generally useful, and as this campaign will have lots of undead, then it's likely your druid will just solve the problem for you by memorizing lots of Cure spells anwyay (in addition to other spells to blast zombies with).

So in short I doubt you'll have any issues just running the game RAW.

2) Sounds like you want a scarce resource that saves PCs from getting fucked over by dice. Have you considered action/fate points? In 3e Eberron, AP could be used to add +1d6 to a dice roll. But you could also use them more simply, like "Spend an action point to reroll a die once per day." Adding an Aspect system to 3e strikes me as somewhat kldugy though would probably work well enough. I'd just prefer doing something like a simple AP/fate point.

3) Random generation always runs the risks creating big gulfs in PC ability. Really, all you can do is ensure that every PC meets a baseline level of competence. If you want to stick with random generation but want to make sure nobody is really and truly boned, then I'd go with something simpler like:

Pick favored generation method (4d6 drop lowest x 6?). Keep scores if:
a) The ability modifiers, added together, are at least +6 (or whatever threshold you want - standard array adds up to +5).
b) At least one ability score is at least 16 (or whatever threshold you want).
Otherwise reroll.

Lapak
2012-05-30, 12:27 PM
1) Anti-undead ability for druidsDruids are indeed crazy strong. Trading (a form of) Turn Undead for spontaneous summons is fine if:
- you disallow trading Turn Undead for variant features
- you disallow using 'Druid Turn Undead' to power all the things that regular Turn Undead can (divine feats and such.)

If your group doesn't tend towards powergaming, that should be fine. If they DO tend towards powergaming, you'll probably want to address their omni-competence somehow.
- Use the Shapeshift variant of Wildshape from the PHB II.
- (OR) Disallow the Natural Spell feat and require that the druid has direct personal experience with an animal before she can take its form.
2) "oops"-avoiders
Marten and Peregrine have good responses to this; there are D&D-friendly ideas in this line if you want to use them.
3) Ability score generation
Eh. I *like* random ability score generation in some settings, but this one doesn't do much for me. 3rd edition in general has math that is so heavily balanced on ability scores that even I'm hesitant to use random generation there.

Xyzandra
2012-05-30, 12:31 PM
Druids already have anti-undead stuff. Hallow, Sunbeam, Sunburst and so forth. Not to mention the Cure (Whatever) Wounds


And yes. 3.5 druids are OP.

Weirdo
2012-05-30, 12:32 PM
1) For druids, you might want to consider Pathfinder's channel energy ability (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/core-classes/cleric#TOC-Channel-Energy-Su-) (perhaps instead of an animal companion). For my game our druid took the feat Adept Channel (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/general-feats/adept-channel) and we hand-waived certain requirements, and she uses it consistently against the undead.

Then again remember that Pathfinder classes and monsters are generally more powerful than 3e equivalents.

2) For "oops" avoiders my players prefer items that grant rerolls, and have made it a point to find any and all items that give rerolls to saving throws, attack rolls, ability checks, etc. Even very situational bonuses like rolling twice versus poison saves is valued by my players (and you get to roll more dice yay!), and after a major campaign battle each player chose a medal that gave a daily reroll for either saves, attack rolls or skills/init.

3) We still cling to rolling for stats and use the 4d6 drop lowest, or in our high powered games reroll ones. We have tried the "24 dice pool method" and it has not disrupted the game at all.

As a house rule, I tally the modifiers for the characters and the character with the highest mod total gets a nerf, and the lowest one gets a buff. We grew attached to this house rule when the players started the backstory rule to explain the stat changes (i.e. Sir Grognard was cursed after he slapped the gypsy queen).

Vaal
2012-05-30, 12:37 PM
1) The druid has a pet who will be an extra fighter in the party and can summon more fighters. The undead ain't no thing if you've got a druid. Neither are any other creature type.

2) As other have said, action points.

3) Point Buy. No offense, but the concept you've got there is random, tedious and doesn't even do what you want. Point Buy makes 18's rare and precious and is the only way to remove luck entirely.

Alternatively, 4d6, drop the lowest, reroll 8 or less.

Lapak
2012-05-30, 12:43 PM
Alternatively, 4d6, drop the lowest, reroll 8 or less.Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. Seriously, if you're going to do random rolling AT ALL, at least let people have one negative modifier. "Randomly superheroic stats, arrange to taste" is not random!

Weirdo
2012-05-30, 12:48 PM
Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. Seriously, if you're going to do random rolling AT ALL, at least let people have one negative modifier. "Randomly superheroic stats, arrange to taste" is not random!

Not to mention, many of the best characters have the worst stats. A tear comes to my eye when I think of Jim the Ranger (Int 6, Wis 4) who went on to become well-loved king and dragonslayer.

Lapak
2012-05-30, 12:52 PM
Not to mention, many of the best characters have the worst stats. A tear comes to my eye when I think of Jim the Ranger (Int 6, Wis 4) who went on to become well-loved king and dragonslayer.Wis 4. Awesome. I'm playing a Wizard in a 3.0 game right now with Intelligence 17 and Wisdom 5. Excellent planning, solid tactics, terrible situational awareness and impulse control.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-05-30, 12:54 PM
There's IMO nothing wrong with superhero stats if that's what you want. Having a 'bad stat' in 3e just means you toss it in a dump stat anyway. Most 3e classes are built around maximizing 2-3 stats. It's like, who cares if the fighter has a charisma of 14 because that's his lowest score. It's not like that has any bearing on fighter abilities. It just means the fighter gets +2 to bluff, which is swiftly rendered irrelevant after level 1.

Weirdo
2012-05-30, 12:59 PM
A very good point, and on slightly related tangent is your blog offline?

Lapak
2012-05-30, 1:00 PM
There's IMO nothing wrong with superhero stats if that's what you want. Having a 'bad stat' in 3e just means you toss it in a dump stat anyway. Most 3e classes are built around maximizing 2-3 stats. It's like, who cares if the fighter has a charisma of 14 because that's his lowest score. It's not like that has any bearing on fighter abilities. It just means the fighter gets +2 to bluff, which is swiftly rendered irrelevant after level 1.I can see what you're saying, but the very fact that most classes only need 2 or 3 stats mean that you can afford to have 2-3 low stats while still being fully viable, and cutting off the possibility for no reason makes all stat blocks painfully similar.

It's purely a matter of taste, but given the choice between a party of 5 characters who are all strong (one very strong), wise (one very wise), charming (etc.), smart, tough, and and agile; or one which has a strong guy, a smart guy, a quick guy, etc. I tend to favor the one with more differentiation between characters.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-05-30, 1:28 PM
A very good point, and on slightly related tangent is your blog offline?

it should be up now, they had datacenter problems or somethin

Vaal
2012-05-30, 1:37 PM
Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. Seriously, if you're going to do random rolling AT ALL, at least let people have one negative modifier. "Randomly superheroic stats, arrange to taste" is not random!

10 is average, 18 is human peak. So superhuman would be 20+

Lapak
2012-05-30, 1:45 PM
10 is average, 18 is human peak. So superhuman would be 20+You can't see me, I know, but I just sighed the biggest sigh.

You know what I mean.

And if we want to get all specific about it, 18 is not the human peak in 3e. 18 is the human peak of natural talent prior to intensive training. A level 4 character (who is by no means superhuman yet) could have a 19. 19 or 20 would be the World's Strongest Man / Gold Medal Gymnast / Stephen Hawking human peak of natural talent plus experience.

Moldywart
2012-05-30, 1:56 PM
I like the idea of action points/drama dice; however, it seems to me that they are a bit more useful to fighter classes (which can add them to their attack rolls) then casters. I expect that they mostly get used to buff saving throws, but still...
What do you think of allowing PCs to add them to the saving throw DC of a spell they are casting? Or maybe adding them to AC for 1 round?

Tortuga Bañana
2012-05-30, 2:00 PM
Casters can use them on touch attack spells, plus any skill checks, saving throws, etc. They're still quite useful. Being nominally more useful to fighters wouldn't even be a problem IMO considering how weak melee is in 3.5e.

edit: Spellcasters also use them for spell resistance rolls.

UngorEatStefan
2012-05-30, 2:08 PM
There's IMO nothing wrong with superhero stats if that's what you want. Having a 'bad stat' in 3e just means you toss it in a dump stat anyway. Most 3e classes are built around maximizing 2-3 stats. It's like, who cares if the fighter has a charisma of 14 because that's his lowest score. It's not like that has any bearing on fighter abilities. It just means the fighter gets +2 to bluff, which is swiftly rendered irrelevant after level 1.

Yeah this.

Or even better who cares what one group wants to do in order to have fun

Vaal
2012-05-30, 2:12 PM
There's no point in sighing dramatically, we're just approaching the stats differently.

I always figured the game assumed that 'normal' people didn't leave level 1 (in PC classes) in 3.5. Just having levels made you 'special'.

Lapak
2012-05-30, 2:18 PM
Indeed. You're not wrong! 3.5 characters are indeed exceptional by definition. (And earlier characters, even; the level title for a 1st-level figher in Basic D&D was 'Veteran,' not 'Neophyte.')

As I said to TT, it's just a matter of taste. For my part, I don't see 'special' or even 'heroic' as meaning 'at or above average in all ways.' Heroes are more interesting to me when they can have weaknesses to go with their strengths. You are not playing it wrong, and your method is not a bad one. I was over-stating stating my distaste, and I apologize for any offense that I gave in the process.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-05-30, 2:24 PM
Being a Player Class already puts you ahead of everybody else. NPCs and commoners are assumed to have levels (even multiple levels) in NPC classes.

Really, 4d6 drop lowest isn't ridiculous. The average result is 12, meaning that heroes are a little more naturally talented than commoners, which makes sense.

The problem with 18 in point buy is that it is disproportionately expensive but also an obviously good choice. Maximizing your primary stat is the most straightforwardly optimal mechanical choice you can make and so even non-twink players are going to do it. Unfortunately, in standard array point buy (which I believe is 25?), that leaves you with very few points to give to other stats. So it's not that you're playing "the tough guy," it's that you're playing "the guy who is only tough."

(Of course, nobody's primary stat would be constitution in 3e.)

Since most classes rely on 2-3 stats, and since everybody wants an 18 in their primary stat, it seems reasonable to give enough points such that monks/paladins(lol)/etc. are actually viable, and fighters can do something besides maximizing Strength. A high point-buy (or a generous random method) may favor, say, the wizard, who only strictly needs a high Int, but over time having a few stray +2 ability mods becomes pretty negligible to game balance.

Vaal
2012-05-30, 2:24 PM
No prob.

We used that generation method because 1) that's the kind of person we think would have survived as an adventurer (and we never played below level 3 except one disastrous time in 3.x) and 2) because we kept running into people who dumped a mental and used it as an excuse to be disruptive ("Of course I'm an asshole, I'm just roleplaying my 6 CHA!" or "I constantly trigger TPKs and blame it on my low INT").

Marten
2012-05-30, 2:27 PM
I like the idea of action points/drama dice; however, it seems to me that they are a bit more useful to fighter classes (which can add them to their attack rolls) then casters. I expect that they mostly get used to buff saving throws, but still...
What do you think of allowing PCs to add them to the saving throw DC of a spell they are casting? Or maybe adding them to AC for 1 round?

3rd edition casters really don't need the help. You could also just define a few other things, like let a player dump ALL of their action/fate points to not die, or spend one or more to retroactively declare they have just the thing they need on hand, or whatever. Basically mash up some of the other generic "things fate points can do" to "add to your roll or reroll it."

Aries Walker
2012-05-30, 2:29 PM
I have a 3.5 idea in mind for "someday" as well. The first house rule I'm going to implement is that I'm going to do away with experience points, and just have the players advance in level at dramatically correct times.

Otherwise, I'm going to be keeping an eye on this thread.

Moldywart
2012-05-30, 4:39 PM
over time having a few stray +2 ability mods becomes pretty negligible to game balance.

I have to disagree here. A +2 mod keeps you ahead of the curve in saving throw stats and if it's Consti can frequently make the difference between life and death.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-05-30, 5:24 PM
"Negligible" is not really accurate as a blanket statement so you are right there. It depends on the stat and class in question. Charisma is a dump stat in 3e. Dexterity has a wide range of applications (it is the best stat) and yes, +2 in Dex is going to be broadly useful if only because you roll so many dex-based checks in 3e. Saving throw buffs never hurt though a wizard is still going to trail behind classes with good Fort progression.

But the broader point here is that having superhero D&D characters doesn't matter a whole lot. Classes care the most about their primary stats by far. If anything, boosting everybody's secondary/tertiary stats probably smooths out class imbalance a little bit, since 3e's combat math steadily widens as you level up. Compare +2 saving throw difference at level 1 between good and bad saves, vs. +6 at level 20. Or +1 BAB difference at level 1 vs. +10 at level 20. (See also: skills, where skill points become far more important than ability mods.)

At level 1, a fighter has, let's say, +5 to fort. A wizard has +0. That's pretty big. If the wizard has ubermensch stats and gets +2 to fort, well...the fighter is still the person you want to put in front of a wraith with constitution drain, but the wizard is not so indubitably boned if a wraith floats past the fighter. The HP bonus is probably appreciated a little too, but doesn't change the essential fact that the wizard dies if you sneeze on her.

edit: we can broadly compare extra stats to feats as well. +2 con is, what, +2 to fort and some extra HP? (Plus, like, two skills, who cares.) That is equivalent to two feats (the one that gives +2 fort and the one that gives you an extra 2 HP per level). And while having a few extra feats is nice it doesn't demolish the math of the game.

Vaal
2012-05-30, 7:14 PM
I have to disagree here. A +2 mod keeps you ahead of the curve in saving throw stats and if it's Consti can frequently make the difference between life and death.

In 3.5? I have to disagree. You had saves you had a fair chance of making without magical help and you had saves you would more likely fail at higher levels. And past a certain level, hp is meaningless because everything bypasses it with level drain, ability damage or save or die. +2 is pretty meaningless in the long run.

Though at level one, they do make you a tiny god, but that's because bonuses at level 1 suck monkeys.

Moldywart
2012-05-30, 7:42 PM
In 3.5? I have to disagree. You had saves you had a fair chance of making without magical help and you had saves you would more likely fail at higher levels. And past a certain level, hp is meaningless because everything bypasses it with level drain, ability damage or save or die. +2 is pretty meaningless in the long run.

Though at level one, they do make you a tiny god, but that's because bonuses at level 1 suck monkeys.
See, this is exactly the kind of logic I don't get for a system with a completely linear probability "curve".

Disregarding HP for a sec, +2 bonus has *exactly* the same effect at level 1 as it has on on level 20: It improves your chance to make a roll by 10%. Unless you are so good that you will always make the roll, or so bad that you will never make it, the benefit stays completely constant.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-05-30, 8:10 PM
Unless you are so good that you will always make the roll, or so bad that you will never make it, the benefit stays completely constant.Bing bong this is exactly the problem. D&D usually involves several characters.

Let's take an extreme example: a level 20 fighter with a Con of 20. Thats +17 fort.

Let's take a level 20 wizard with a con of 10. That's +6 Fort.

Let's say we want the fighter to have, oh, a 70% chance of success against some high level spell, since the fighter is pretty tough but not invincible. That means the fighter needs a 6 on the d20, or, in other words, is rolling against a 23 fort save.

The wizard needs a 17 to make this, a 15% chance. Not great. A +2 bonus is better, yes (25% chance), but we're still talking about something which will probably fail either way. The wizard really really doesn't want to be making fort saves.

Meanwhile, let's say we want something more manageable for the +6 fort wizard - a 50% chance of success, or DC 17. Well, the fighter automatically makes that. And something that is 50% for the fighter (DC 28)? The wizard automatically fails.

An 11 point difference is quite large but even a 5 point difference is pretty dramatic. And the game builds these large differences into the core math.

Basically that's how 3e math works: the higher level you get, the more the numbers spread out. You can see this just by looking at class tables. You can challenge the wizard, or you can challenge the fighter, but you can't challenge both at the same time. You can include some monster with a terrifying spell that targets Fort, but either the fighter absorbs it painlessly, or the wizard automatically dies.

Now, the wizard might be saved by that +2 fort. But the wizard's chances of success are low either way. Going from "very likely failure" to "likely failure" is not a very valuable bonus. PCs like to maximize success, not mitigate failures.

medivh
2012-05-31, 4:06 AM
And while we're at it, +2 isn't +10%. If you previously succeeded only on a 20, it's +200%.

If you previously succeeded on 11+ and now succeed on 9+, it's a change from a 50% success rate to a 60% success rate, which is 20% more successes than you used to have, not 10% more successes.

If you previously succeeded on 4+ and now succeed on 2+, you went from an 85% success rate to a 95% success rate - you've just reduced your odds of failing by two thirds which is an 11% increase in success rate.

That is to say, the worse your odds, the more a +2 helps you.

EDIT: And like TT is saying, as you gain levels the DCs change compared to your stuff. Fighters get more and more likely to fail Will saves, Wizards get more and more likely to fail Fort saves.

Marten
2012-05-31, 7:23 AM
+10% is a perfectly valid way to refer to a +2 bonus. A +2 improves your raw odds of success by a flat 10%, which might make you 5% or 200% more likely to succeed. It's two different ways of describing a bonus, which convey different types of information and are useful in different ways.

Edit: basically, the % symbol can be used for both percentage points and percent change. To make it unambiguous you could say that a +2 is a 10pp change, but in common language nobody uses pp.

medivh
2012-05-31, 8:11 AM
+2 bonus isn't a +10pp change either unless you had a modifier of +20 to start with.

EDIT: I'm sure we both agree and I'm teaching you nothing here. Rather, I'm trying to illustrate that "+2" is a meaningless modifier unless you know your starting value and your DC.

+5 vs dc 15? It's a big-ish change. +0 vs a DC of 30? No change whatsoever.
Since save and save DC change throughout the game and not at the same rate, the value of a +2 bonus is different at level 0 and at level 20.

Marten
2012-05-31, 9:23 AM
+2 bonus isn't a +10pp change either unless you had a modifier of +20 to start with.

Er, no, it is exactly that. If you have a 55% chance of success (DC 10, no modifier), a +2 increases that to a 65% chance of success, a 10 percentage point increase. If you have a 15% chance (DC 18), that becomes a 25% chance. No matter what the DC is or what your existing modifiers are, a +2 adds ten percentage points to your odds of success, unless you're so far away from success/failure that even with the modifier, you only succeed on a 20 or fail on a 1. And that's really not worth talking about, since it should be self evident to even the most mathematically challenged player that the bonus does them no good.

It's a valuable way of talking about the modifier because does not change in value based on your frame of reference (e.g. +2 is a 10pp increase in your odds of success and a 10pp decrease in your odds of failure) and requires only simple addition to calculate your new percentage odds. The downside is that it can understate or overstate the value of the mod at edge conditions.

Percentage change is great at explaining the value of a mod at edge conditions (if you can only be hit on a 17 or better on AC, a +2 to AC will reduce incoming damage vs AC by 50%) but it is dependent on your frame of reference (in the above scenario, enemy miss rate "only" increases by 12.5%) and it requires you to multiply the percentage change by your current odds of success to determine your new odds. And all of that is even more problematic when attacks and defenses are not perfectly static vs level, which means your percentage change also varies based on the enemy's statistics or your DC.

medivh
2012-05-31, 3:05 PM
Er, no, it is exactly that. If you have a 55% chance of success (DC 10, no modifier), a +2 increases that to a 65% chance of success, a 10 percentage point increase. If you have a 15% chance (DC 18), that becomes a 25% chance. No matter what the DC is or what your existing modifiers are, a +2 adds ten percentage points to your odds of success, unless you're so far away from success/failure that even with the modifier, you only succeed on a 20 or fail on a 1. And that's really not worth talking about, since it should be self evident to even the most mathematically challenged player that the bonus does them no good.

/disagree. +2 is only 10pp if your measuring stick says that 20 is 100%. Not that +20 is +100pp but that 20 is 100%.

Marten
2012-05-31, 3:15 PM
Please continue reading after the part you bolded.

Sprint
2012-05-31, 3:21 PM
grog-nerds

Ash Plissken
2012-05-31, 3:25 PM
I don't think I will ever reach the point where the word "grognard" no longer makes me picture a man whose nards are soaked in grog.

Aries Walker
2012-05-31, 3:31 PM
Wolfman's got grognards.

Marten
2012-05-31, 3:38 PM
grog-nerds

I don't think I will ever reach the point where the word "grognard" no longer makes me picture a man whose nards are soaked in grog.

Wolfman's got grognards.

In which I cannot stop laughing.

Vaal
2012-05-31, 3:45 PM
Basically, the math says +2 is 10% better. But if the designers decided that this was one of your bad saves/skills, +2 will no help you most of the time.

It's the reason Wizards, with their shitty BaB needed touch attacks: as the game goes on, it's impossible for them to hit anything unless you strip 10+ points of AC off it first.

Peregrine
2012-05-31, 3:49 PM
And later in the game, rolling becomes more and more redundant anyways.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-05-31, 3:51 PM
Yeah the game's math is just straight messed up. Spell damage scales way way faster than melee damage, for instance. Disintegrate deals an additional +7 damage per level. Even low-level magic missile gains about 1.25 damage per level, which still outpaces fighters. Once spellcasters have access to save-or-die spells (or low-level equivalents, like sleep), their average damage = average monster HP.

Even though a fighter never 'runs out' of sword attacks, if a single spell deals the equivalent of 10 sword attacks, then either the wizard casts 1 spell per 10 rounds of combat, or the fighter needs to make 10 times as many attack rolls as the fighter casts spells.

Moldywart
2012-05-31, 5:02 PM
Bing bong this is exactly the problem. D&D usually involves several characters.

Let's take an extreme example: a level 20 fighter with a Con of 20. Thats +17 fort.

Let's take a level 20 wizard with a con of 10. That's +6 Fort.

Let's say we want the fighter to have, oh, a 70% chance of success against some high level spell, since the fighter is pretty tough but not invincible. That means the fighter needs a 6 on the d20, or, in other words, is rolling against a 23 fort save.

The wizard needs a 17 to make this, a 15% chance. Not great. A +2 bonus is better, yes (25% chance), but we're still talking about something which will probably fail either way. The wizard really really doesn't want to be making fort saves.

Meanwhile, let's say we want something more manageable for the +6 fort wizard - a 50% chance of success, or DC 17. Well, the fighter automatically makes that. And something that is 50% for the fighter (DC 28)? The wizard automatically fails.

An 11 point difference is quite large but even a 5 point difference is pretty dramatic. And the game builds these large differences into the core math.

Basically that's how 3e math works: the higher level you get, the more the numbers spread out. You can see this just by looking at class tables. You can challenge the wizard, or you can challenge the fighter, but you can't challenge both at the same time. You can include some monster with a terrifying spell that targets Fort, but either the fighter absorbs it painlessly, or the wizard automatically dies.

Now, the wizard might be saved by that +2 fort. But the wizard's chances of success are low either way. Going from "very likely failure" to "likely failure" is not a very valuable bonus. PCs like to maximize success, not mitigate failures.
Con is kind of a bad example because while it is nice for Wizards, it's required for Fighters.
Let's compare Will saves instead. Unless something really funky happens, both Wizard and Fighter will have maybe 12ish Wis at lvl 1, and stay there all the way to lvl 20.
So now were comparing a +7 Will bonus with +13, a 30% difference in their chance of success. Reducing that gap to 20% is quite significant imho.
And the min/maxing thing applies to offense a lot more then to defense, where having an achilles heel that is a 100% garantueed way to screw you over should be avoided (otherwise, the DM isn't doing his job).
Will saves for Fighters are a prime example: If an enemy caster succeeds at dominating the fighter, the entire the party is boned. Stacking a view extra bonuses here can be well worth it, and is much easier if your starting point is only "kind of sucks" instead of "absolutely terrible".


Yeah the game's math is just straight messed up. Spell damage scales way way faster than melee damage, for instance. Disintegrate deals an additional +7 damage per level. Even low-level magic missile gains about 1.25 damage per level, which still outpaces fighters. Once spellcasters have access to save-or-die spells (or low-level equivalents, like sleep), their average damage = average monster HP.

Even though a fighter never 'runs out' of sword attacks, if a single spell deals the equivalent of 10 sword attacks, then either the wizard casts 1 spell per 10 rounds of combat, or the fighter needs to make 10 times as many attack rolls as the fighter casts spells.
It isn't quite that extreme if you factor in that fighters usually get multiple attacks per round.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-05-31, 5:14 PM
The secondary attacks scale at +5/per. Maybe the 2nd attack is nice to have but the 3rd and 4th attacks are just garbage, only worthwhile for the increased critical chances. (Monks, rangers, etc. are a little difference since the math isn't quite so extreme.)

Let's say a fighter deals 10 damage per hit. At a 50% success rate, that is 5 damage per attack.

Add a second attack at -5? Okay, another 2.5 damage per attack (which is a generous way of measuring such swingy damage). Not too bad, I guess, but we're talking diminishing returns every 5 levels, vs. spell scaling, which scales in a linear way every single level.

Add another attack at -10? Uh, well, you need a crit to hit, which is nice I suppose.

Add another attack at -15? Just lol.

Like if you wanted you could do a really extensive breakdown of average fighter damage per level and average wizard(/cleric/druid/etc.) damage per level and calculate how many rolls a fighter has to make to break even with spellcasters, and I guarantee you it will be a lot. This problem is compounded by the fact that spellcasters tend to deal damage in huge chunks, which ends battles before the fighter can get attacks in, which means the fighter would have to make up that damage difference in battles which are essentially solo.

edit: average damage may be a crude way to measure player power in a game which is so swingy, and in a game which is not strictly focused on combat. However, factoring in other variables just makes the fighter worse. The fighter has few tactical options in combat to, for instance, defend other PCs (AoOs are a poor tanking tool), and the fighter's non-combat abilities are incredibly limited (hello 2+int skill points). The fighter's best options are to maximize damage or to maximize cheese builds (such as tripping) and all of these still compare poorly to any full spellcaster or several other melee classes. Even the fighter's apparent strengths - high AC, high HP, and high fort - are mitigated by a low reflex and a low will. Low reflex tends to increase damage taken, and a low will makes the fighter especially vulnerable to incapacitating spells and effects.

Bassetking
2012-05-31, 5:20 PM
It isn't quite that extreme if you factor in that fighters usually get multiple attacks per round.

Except that they usually don't.

Fighters only get multiple attacks if whatever it is they're attacking decides to stand still and let the fighter pound on it. If the fighter has to move, at all, unless he's invested the levels or feats into getting Pounce, then he's making one attack a round.

Wizards can move, usually further and farther than the fighter, thanks to everything from phantom mount to fly to expeditious retreat; and then, after moving, get to make their equivalent to 10-fighter-attacks attack.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-05-31, 5:24 PM
Also, re: the will comparison:

Yes, a wizard's will vs. a fighter's will, even at high levels, is more comparable. But D&D is not "Fighter vs. Wizard," though they often make goood case points. I hope you don't have a monk in the party, because there's going to be a huge gulf between the monk and the fighter's will saves. Or a cleric.

3e math is designed such that a typical adventuring party, i.e. 4-6 people with a variety of classes, are going to have enormous differences in ability, which makes it very risky to put in monsters and traps and spells that could potentially affect any one of them. Instead of having a party of adventurers who complement each other and shore up each other's weaknesses, you have a party of adventurers with very fragile vulnerabilities.

Moldywart
2012-05-31, 5:28 PM
The secondary attacks scale at +5/per. Maybe the 2nd attack is nice to have but the 3rd and 4th attacks are just garbage, only worthwhile for the increased critical chances. (Monks, rangers, etc. are a little difference since the math isn't quite so extreme.)

Let's say a fighter deals 10 damage per hit. At a 50% success rate, that is 5 damage per attack.

Add a second attack at -5? Okay, another 2.5 damage per attack (which is a generous way of measuring such swingy damage). Not too bad, I guess, but we're talking diminishing returns every 5 levels, vs. spell scaling, which scales in a linear way every single level.

Add another attack at -10? Uh, well, you need a crit to hit, which is nice I suppose.

Add another attack at -15? Just lol.

Like if you wanted you could do a really extensive breakdown of average fighter damage per level and average wizard(/cleric/druid/etc.) damage per level and calculate how many rolls a fighter has to make to break even with spellcasters, and I guarantee you it will be a lot. This problem is compounded by the fact that spellcasters tend to deal damage in huge chunks, which ends battles before the fighter can get attacks in, which means the fighter would have to make up that damage difference in battles which are essentially solo.

edit: average damage may be a crude way to measure player power in a game which is so swingy, and in a game which is not strictly focused on combat. However, factoring in other variables just makes the fighter worse. The fighter has few tactical options in combat to, for instance, defend other PCs (AoOs are a poor tanking tool), and the fighter's non-combat abilities are incredibly limited (hello 2+int skill points).
There are also bonus attacks made at full or "inherited" attack bonus like Whirwind or Cleave.
And it depends on the AC of the monster of course, but in my experience a well-built fighters has such a rediculously high AB that he only misses most foes on a 1 on the first attack, so your example doesn't really seem realistic. And it also reinforces the fact that fighters should go for the squishies, while the casters zap the brutes. Also, don't forget about spell resistance.

I do agree that Fighters (and other melee classes) lack tools for battlefield control in general, and keeping enemies away from the parties own squishies. This could be remedied with a few well-designed feats, though. Anyone got suggestions?

Tortuga Bañana
2012-05-31, 5:48 PM
but in my experience a well-built fighters has such a rediculously high AB that he only misses most foes on a 1 on the first attack, so your example doesn't really seem realistic.A fighter who needs 1 to miss on the first attack is still probably going to miss on the 3rd and 4th attacks - that is how bad multiple attacks are. (See also: Bassetking's post.) Also, that math doesn't gel with 3e math. If a fighter is sufficiently twinked out such that success is guaranteed except for critical failures, then something has gone wrong, or the DM needs to use stronger monsters. That is, on the face of it, pretty ridiculous. Your fighter literally can't miss with an attack? Why are you even rolling dice?

edit: of course that's really the problem, isn't it. The only way for fighters to even be arguably good is if they don't even need to roll dice. And even then they compare poorly.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-05-31, 5:51 PM
Basically, the math says +2 is 10% better. But if the designers decided that this was one of your bad saves/skills, +2 will no help you most of the time.

It's the reason Wizards, with their shitty BaB needed touch attacks: as the game goes on, it's impossible for them to hit anything unless you strip 10+ points of AC off it first.Also to expand on this, guess what? Touch attacks ignore AC bonuses from armor as well as natural armor bonuses. Bigger monsters are also easier to hit. At high levels, the difference between AC and touch-AC is often more than 10. So don't worry, wizards! You're doin' just fine!

Even factoring in that wizard's have a bad BAB progression, they have higher chances of hitting most monsters than fighters do, and monster touch AC actually gets lower as as monsters level up.

:psyduck:

Marten
2012-05-31, 6:11 PM
There are also bonus attacks made at full or "inherited" attack bonus like Whirwind or Cleave.
And it depends on the AC of the monster of course, but in my experience a well-built fighters has such a rediculously high AB that he only misses most foes on a 1 on the first attack, so your example doesn't really seem realistic. And it also reinforces the fact that fighters should go for the squishies, while the casters zap the brutes. Also, don't forget about spell resistance.

You know, it's a real problem if the fighting man, who is supposed to be best at fighting, is best served by going after some guy with hollow bones instead of locking down the enemy tough and making that asshole eat his own teeth.

Vaal
2012-05-31, 6:53 PM
In conclusion: just let the fighter get his +2. We promise he'll be just as terrible a class even with it.

Peregrine
2012-05-31, 7:02 PM
You know, it's a real problem if the fighting man, who is supposed to be best at fighting, is best served by going after some guy with hollow bones instead of locking down the enemy tough and making that asshole eat his own teeth.No, it's great. The fighter is best served by going after the wizards. That leaves the wizards free to take care of the big tough guys, like fighters.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-05-31, 7:06 PM
Spell resistance is IMO a pretty bad solution to the problem of wizard imbalance. It just turns spells into coin flips. "Your spells have a 50% chance to completely fail" is IMO not a great way to address spell power. Also only some monsters have it.

edit: Not to get into another problem with 3e but this is another problem 3e. The game relies too much on hard immunities to counterbalance player abilities. See: the innumerable monsters who can't be sneak attacked, which can render rogues useless at high levels. See: spell resistance as something which simply negates spells. See: damage resistance which cripples melee damage unless you have a sufficiently magical weapon which totally overrides it.

DBZ Is Gold
2012-05-31, 7:07 PM
And only some spells allow spell resistance.

edit: And spell resistance is a double edged sword on the party. If you have it, yeah, you have a miniscule chance of shrugging off a harmful spell. On the other hand, you also have to resist spells that buff you if they allow spell resistance.

Moldywart
2012-05-31, 9:07 PM
A fighter who needs 1 to miss on the first attack is still probably going to miss on the 3rd and 4th attacks - that is how bad multiple attacks are. (See also: Bassetking's post.) Also, that math doesn't gel with 3e math. If a fighter is sufficiently twinked out such that success is guaranteed except for critical failures, then something has gone wrong, or the DM needs to use stronger monsters. That is, on the face of it, pretty ridiculous. Your fighter literally can't miss with an attack? Why are you even rolling dice?

edit: of course that's really the problem, isn't it. The only way for fighters to even be arguably good is if they don't even need to roll dice. And even then they compare poorly.
They don't need to roll dice on the first attack.
And only missing on a one 1 on the first attack means at least a 50% chance of hitting on the 3rd. That's a "probable miss" to you?

I hear your message that fighters scale worse then casters, but I could do without the hyperbole.

Spell resistance is IMO a pretty bad solution to the problem of wizard imbalance. It just turns spells into coin flips. "Your spells have a 50% chance to completely fail" is IMO not a great way to address spell power. Also only some monsters have it.

edit: Not to get into another problem with 3e but this is another problem 3e. The game relies too much on hard immunities to counterbalance player abilities. See: the innumerable monsters who can't be sneak attacked, which can render rogues useless at high levels. See: spell resistance as something which simply negates spells. See: damage resistance which cripples melee damage unless you have a sufficiently magical weapon which totally overrides it.
Not to mention random elemental immunities that somehow always cover 80% of the memorized spells. But that kind of part and parcel of D&D though, in any edition (except perhaps 4th, which I know nothing about). I'm not sure you can fix that while keeping the feel of the game intact.

And only some spells allow spell resistance.

edit: And spell resistance is a double edged sword on the party. If you have it, yeah, you have a miniscule chance of shrugging off a harmful spell. On the other hand, you also have to resist spells that buff you if they allow spell resistance.
iirc, in 3e you can voluntarily lower SR.

Bassetking
2012-05-31, 11:21 PM
They don't need to roll dice on the first attack.
And only missing on a one 1 on the first attack means at least a 50% chance of hitting on the 3rd. That's a "probable miss" to you?

I hear your message that fighters scale worse then casters, but I could do without the hyperbole.
If you think Grayson is being hyperbolic, no, you really aren't hearing his message.


Not to mention random elemental immunities that somehow always cover 80% of the memorized spells. But that kind of part and parcel of D&D though, in any edition (except perhaps 4th, which I know nothing about). I'm not sure you can fix that while keeping the feel of the game intact.


If you're casting spells which can be negated by elemental resistances, you're already playing your casters... Less optimally than many might choose to.

You don't need to worry about elemental resistances for Color Spray, or Sleep, or Web, or Glitterdust, or Tasha's Hideous Laughter, or Otto's Irresistible Dance, or Dominate, or... well, you get the idea.

Evocation is far and away the weakest of the magical schools, and is also the one towards which the majority of the game's magical checks are geared.

iirc, you can voluntarily lower SR.

No, you can choose to voluntarily fail your save; those are two different things.

Lapak
2012-05-31, 11:27 PM
No, you can choose to voluntarily fail your save; those are two different things.You can also lower your Spell Resistance, but it eats up an action and leaves you vulnerable to hostile magic too.

A creature can voluntarily lower its spell resistance. Doing so is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. Once a creature lowers its resistance, it remains down until the creature’s next turn. At the beginning of the creature’s next turn, the creature’s spell resistance automatically returns unless the creature intentionally keeps it down (also a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity).

Tortuga Bañana
2012-05-31, 11:51 PM
They don't need to roll dice on the first attack.
And only missing on a one 1 on the first attack means at least a 50% chance of hitting on the 3rd. That's a "probable miss" to you?
If you have a 5% chance of failure, then -10 attack on your 3rd attack is 55% chance of failure, which is a probable failure. Admittedly only slightly, but my point is that even when a fighter is almost guaranteed success on Attack 1, Attacks 3 and 4 have dramatically lower odds. A fighter's additional attacks only matter for the increased critical chance.

I was assuming that 1% was not a de facto critical failure but rather, literally, the PC needed a +2 bonus from the d20 roll to hit the enemy AC.

It's somewhat besides the point. We're talking about math that only arguably scales well if you start from a position of automatically succeeding. 3e math is straight janky. And that's only arguable at super-high levels. At low-mid levels a fighter is certainly not hitting on a 2.

Moldywart
2012-06-01, 6:23 AM
You don't need to worry about elemental resistances for Color Spray, or Sleep, or Web, or Glitterdust, or Tasha's Hideous Laughter, or Otto's Irresistible Dance, or Dominate, or... well, you get the idea.


Not saying those aren't powerful spells, but they can also be randomly screwed over, e.g. Tasha's only affects intelligent beings, Otto's requires a non-ranged (!!!) touch attack (which can cause any number of Bad Things (tm) even if they don't melee you back) despite being 8th grade, Dominate only affects humanoids, Sleep only affects creatures that, well, sleep, etc. etc.

Moldywart
2012-06-01, 7:09 AM
If you have a 5% chance of failure, then -10 attack on your 3rd attack is 55% chance of failure, which is a probable failure. Admittedly only slightly, but my point is that even when a fighter is almost guaranteed success on Attack 1, Attacks 3 and 4 have dramatically lower odds. A fighter's additional attacks only matter for the increased critical chance.

I was assuming that 1% was not a de facto critical failure but rather, literally, the PC needed a +2 bonus from the d20 roll to hit the enemy AC.

Well, 1 is an automatic failure, even if the AB would let you hit on a roll of -3. And I wouldn't dismiss attacks with a lowish chance so easily. I know it's a rather crude way to calculate, but if your 3rd attack has 50% chance to hit it gives on average 50% of your weapon damage; in that case, the 4th attack has a 25% to hit, so together that's 75% weapon damage - almost another full hit.
I'm also not sure why you say that they only matters for the increased critical chance, since with the "confirm-the-20" system, the chance of a crit drops proportionally to your chance for a regular hit. If the latter is negligable, then so is the former.


It's somewhat besides the point. We're talking about math that only arguably scales well if you start from a position of automatically succeeding. 3e math is straight janky. And that's only arguable at super-high levels. At low-mid levels a fighter is certainly not hitting on a 2.
Well, a lvl 10 fighter with a Str of 18, appropriate feats, packing a +2 weapon and no +str items has an AB of +18. Throwing in a Bull's Strenght and a Bless, we're at +21, meaning an AC of 23 is only-misses-on-1, which just so happens to be what CR 10 creatures generally hover around.

I think that in the end, the major problem is that the fighter doesn't have enough tools to leverage his high HP to give himself and the party an advantage.
He's still important to have for when the casters run out of spells. Now, having the DM balance the fights such that half the time the casters feel useless, and the other half the melee'ers isn't really a great design, but once again, it's kind of built into the DNA of D&D.

Bassetking
2012-06-01, 4:52 PM
Well, a lvl 10 fighter with a Str of 18, appropriate feats, packing a +2 weapon and no +str items has an AB of +18. Throwing in a Bull's Strenght and a Bless, we're at +21, meaning an AC of 23 is only-misses-on-1, which just so happens to be what CR 10 creatures generally hover around.

Why in gods name is the wizard going to prepare Bulls Strength, when he has so many other, better options to prepare in that slot? Ray of Stupidity, Ray of Weakness, or an Empowered Lesser Orb of Acid?

Why is the Cleric casting Bless on the Fighter; when the Cleric can cast Divine Favor, Bless, and Righteous Wrath of the Faithful on himself and out-melee the fighter?


I think that in the end, the major problem is that the fighter doesn't have enough tools to leverage his high HP to give himself and the party an advantage.This is 100% true.


He's still important to have for when the casters run out of spells. Now, having the DM balance the fights such that half the time the casters feel useless, and the other half the melee'ers isn't really a great design, but once again, it's kind of built into the DNA of D&D.This, however, is 100% wrong. When the caster is out of spells, he crawls into his Rope Trick with his restful Sleeping Bag; or his Mordenkainens Magnificent Mansion, or any other option, and he regains all his spells.

It's built into the DNA of D&D in an abstract "Well, this is how they initially playtested the classes" manner. In actual practice, however, it doesn't play out this way. Ever.

EDIT: Also, I want you to look at that bolded part. "We need your dude around because the god-shapers have to sleep occasionally, and it's cheaper to feed you than to make a golem" is terrible, terrible design; and is quite insulting and cheapening to the Fighter's player, and the role he plays.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-06-01, 4:59 PM
When the casters run out of spells, the party is boned, because the fighter can't stop monsters from walking past the fighter and attacking the spellcasters.

Marten
2012-06-01, 5:10 PM
Now, having the DM balance the fights such that half the time the casters feel useless, and the other half the melee'ers isn't really a great design, but once again, it's kind of built into the DNA of D&D.

Tradition does not make bad design into good design, and as such, bad design should still be discarded in favor of good design.

Moldywart
2012-06-01, 9:16 PM
Why in gods name is the wizard going to prepare Bulls Strength, when he has so many other, better options to prepare in that slot? Ray of Stupidity, Ray of Weakness, or an Empowered Lesser Orb of Acid?

Why is the Cleric casting Bless on the Fighter; when the Cleric can cast Divine Favor, Bless, and Righteous Wrath of the Faithful on himself and out-melee the fighter?

First, Bull's Strength can be cast by several classes and is usually used bottled anyway. Second, it lasts for several hours, i.e. multiple encounters. Third, it's a 2nd grade spell, Empowered Acid Orb 3rd. Fourth, Bless buffs the entire party 99.9% of the time. So does RWotF.

(Fifth, if you empower a blast spell, you are doing it wrong. Compare your empowered acid orb to the Ligthning Bolt or Fireball you could have put in the same slot. Empower your Ray of Enfeeblement instead.)


This, however, is 100% wrong. When the caster is out of spells, he crawls into his Rope Trick with his restful Sleeping Bag; or his Mordenkainens Magnificent Mansion, or any other option, and he regains all his spells.
It's built into the DNA of D&D in an abstract "Well, this is how they initially playtested the classes" manner. In actual practice, however, it doesn't play out this way. Ever.
If your DM lets you abuse Rope Trick or anything else short of a Wish to to regain your spells whenever you want, you need a different DM.


EDIT: Also, I want you to look at that bolded part. "We need your dude around because the god-shapers have to sleep occasionally, and it's cheaper to feed you than to make a golem" is terrible, terrible design; and is quite insulting and cheapening to the Fighter's player, and the role he plays.OK, but meanwhile, you look at what comes AFTER the bolded part. I already noted that the design is questionable.

Tradition does not make bad design into good design, and as such, bad design should still be discarded in favor of good design.
My point was that I'm not sure it's possible to mod these rules to remedy these problems directly without breaking the game even more, because they are so integral to the design.


Now, can we please drop the "fighters are so useless" rants? If you hate D&D, fair enough, but then why are you posting in this thread?
Or how about posting your ideas on how to FIX this stuff instead? This is a thread about house rules...

Moldywart
2012-06-01, 9:20 PM
When the casters run out of spells, the party is boned, because the fighter can't stop monsters from walking past the fighter and attacking the spellcasters.
Why would an enemy prioritize an opponent that is no longer a threat?

Marten
2012-06-01, 9:30 PM
How does the enemy know the wizard is out of spells, as opposed to just pretending?

Vaal
2012-06-01, 10:35 PM
Now, can we please drop the "fighters are so useless" rants? If you hate D&D, fair enough, but then why are you posting in this thread?
Because recognizing how terrible the Fighter Class is signifies that you hate DnD

Or how about posting your ideas on how to FIX this stuff instead? This is a thread about house rules...

Give the guy that wants to play a fighter the Book of 9 Swords instead. Then forbid the Wizard, Druid and Cleric players from using splats.

Alternatively: All golem dungeon.

Bassetking
2012-06-01, 11:33 PM
Because recognizing how terrible the Fighter Class is signifies that you hate DnD



Give the guy that wants to play a fighter the Book of 9 Swords instead. Then forbid the Wizard, Druid and Cleric players from using splats.

Alternatively: All golem dungeon.

This is actually a solid fix. Fighters get Bo9S (The second best book for 3.5, and hands down the best rules-wise).

Arcane Casters are limited to Warmages, Dread Necromancers, and Beguilers.

Divine Casters are limited to the paladin spell list.

Druids cast off the Ranger list, but keep the animal companion. Natural Spell is banned.

DBZ Is Gold
2012-06-02, 12:01 AM
Ban core classes.

Bassetking
2012-06-02, 1:51 AM
Ban core classes.

This is actually an excellent suggestion!

Vaal
2012-06-02, 10:07 AM
Yeah, but then your non-caster players might play the Samurai or Scout and we're right back to square one.

Moldywart
2012-06-02, 10:16 AM
*sigh*

DBZ Is Gold
2012-06-02, 10:30 AM
Yeah, but then your non-caster players might play the Samurai or Scout and we're right back to square one.

Scout isn't all that bad, to be honest. It's around the same level as rogue, which isn't too bad as well, considering how easy it is to get around sneak attack immunities.

DBZ Is Gold
2012-06-02, 10:41 AM
I'd give all the good BAB classes Pounce for free. Iterative attack penalties aside, it's silly that a fighter can't move thirty feet and stab something a few times, but a wizard can speak the forbidden language, do the dance of special words, and sing the song that ends the world in 6 seconds on average.

Like I said, iterative attack penalties aside. You could also lessen the iterative penalties. Like, 20/20/15/10 or something like that. Since armor doesn't scale at the same rate as attack bonuses, it's actually a smaller benefit than it'd seem however.

Vaal
2012-06-02, 11:01 AM
I also gave them a +4 for special attack forms to cancel out the bullshit penalties to things like trip.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-06-02, 12:31 PM
Why would an enemy prioritize an opponent that is no longer a threat?
Then they kill the fighter and then kill the defenseless wizards afterwards. I mean, let's look at it from this perspective:

A wizard without spells deals virtually no damage. (For the sake of discussion, let's assume the wizard is just firing crossbow bolts.) Wizard attack bonuses are low, and damage is low even on a hit.

So, for all intents and purposes, the wizard isn't even in this battle, so we're left with two scenarios:

1) The fighter can win this battle basically solo. At which point, combat balance is just "Fighter Damage Per Turn as Percentage of Total Enemy HP > Enemy Damage Per Turn as Percentage of Total Fighter HP." (Also, as DM, you have to deliberately not target the fragile spellcasters.)

2) The fighter can't win the battle basically solo, at which point the PCs die.

This all just goes back to the central problem with 3e combat, which is that combat is typically resolved by 1 or 2 PCs, instead of the entire party.

The fighter is not literally useless. Fighters deal damage and absorb damage. I haven't read the Book of 9 Swords, but I've heard it expands fighter options a lot. Low-mid-level games also relieve this problem somewhat - the math is not quite so janky from about levels 6-12. Basically, after spellcasters get over the "I have 4 HP at level 1" hump, but before they get all their super-powerful high-level stuff.

And, of course, there is always the caveat of "play what you enjoy." I can go on and on about what I don't like about 3e but who cares. I used to play it all the time and I had fun doing so and people still have fun doing so. I just think it's worth keeping this power discrepancy in mind. IMO you have to do a fair amount of rejiggering to make 3e really satisfying for melee characters.

Moldywart
2012-06-02, 2:53 PM
Then they kill the fighter and then kill the defenseless wizards afterwards. I mean, let's look at it from this perspective:

A wizard without spells deals virtually no damage. (For the sake of discussion, let's assume the wizard is just firing crossbow bolts.) Wizard attack bonuses are low, and damage is low even on a hit.

So, for all intents and purposes, the wizard isn't even in this battle, so we're left with two scenarios:

1) The fighter can win this battle basically solo. At which point, combat balance is just "Fighter Damage Per Turn as Percentage of Total Enemy HP > Enemy Damage Per Turn as Percentage of Total Fighter HP." (Also, as DM, you have to deliberately not target the fragile spellcasters.)

2) The fighter can't win the battle basically solo, at which point the PCs die.

This all just goes back to the central problem with 3e combat, which is that combat is typically resolved by 1 or 2 PCs, instead of the entire party.

The fighter is not literally useless. Fighters deal damage and absorb damage. I haven't read the Book of 9 Swords, but I've heard it expands fighter options a lot. Low-mid-level games also relieve this problem somewhat - the math is not quite so janky from about levels 6-12. Basically, after spellcasters get over the "I have 4 HP at level 1" hump, but before they get all their super-powerful high-level stuff.

And, of course, there is always the caveat of "play what you enjoy." I can go on and on about what I don't like about 3e but who cares. I used to play it all the time and I had fun doing so and people still have fun doing so. I just think it's worth keeping this power discrepancy in mind. IMO you have to do a fair amount of rejiggering to make 3e really satisfying for melee characters.
You have to ask yourself: Why is the caster out of spells? Answer: Because he didn't ration them enough.
The math kind of assumes that the wizard isn't casting something every round, because he has to save something for emergencies.
Consequently, I think the worst offender isn't the class system itself, it's wands and staves. With them, the caster can just keep out-DPSing the fighter 100% of the time if that's what it takes to win, and make up for it with gold later.

Peregrine
2012-06-02, 2:57 PM
To what end would the caster be not casting spells? Any time he's not doing his job is more time the enemy has to try to kill him and the others. When you can cast a fireball, unless it's incredible overkill, and by the time you get it, it's not, there is almost never any reason not to fireball in favor of a spear or a crossbow attack.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-06-02, 3:35 PM
The caster has two options: cast fun spells, or fire a crossbow that will probably miss (and deal low damage even if it hits). Forcing a wizard to keep marching when they're out of spells is basically punishing them for having too much fun. Asking a player to "ration" spells is asking them to moderate how much fun they're having for the benefit of other players. The reason people love at-wills so much (and their 3e equivalent, wands) is because it lets them keep having fun even when they're out of all their big bad daily spells.

Furthermore, any emergency that you need a few big spells for is almost by definition an emergency that the fighter is unequipped to handle, so it doesn't matter either way. The party is boned as soon as the party spellcasters run out of spells, whether they do it by mistake or whether they just blow everything early on.

Historically, D&D has been pretty lethal to players. If you want players to engage in some tough long-term resource management and if you are prepared to punish/kill them for mistakes, fair enough. That's certainly a playstyle that some people enjoy. But even then I don't think 3e does that well, so much as it does it as an accident of really rough class balance. A party full of wizards and clerics doesn't have to worry about managing their daily spells. They can pretty much plow through everything. If we were talking about a hypothetical party of full spellcasters then we wouldn't have to ask them to ration anything. It's only when you start adding in fighters and paladins and rogues that things start to get bad.

edit: druids and clerics have less to worry about in this regard because they can cast a small handful of spells and be capable fighters. They're also generally considered the most powerful classes in the game, though.

medivh
2012-06-03, 4:02 AM
You have to ask yourself: Why is the caster out of spells? Answer: Because he didn't ration them enough.
The math kind of assumes that the wizard isn't casting something every round, because he has to save something for emergencies.
Consequently, I think the worst offender isn't the class system itself, it's wands and staves. With them, the caster can just keep out-DPSing the fighter 100% of the time if that's what it takes to win, and make up for it with gold later.

A caster with nine spells entering a combat should leave it with 4 spells after five rounds of combat (which is a long combat). That has him with 4 spells and maybe a single crossbow bolt for the next combat.

And for the next combat? Nine spells.

Peregrine
2012-06-03, 10:13 AM
If you run out of bullets in combat, it's because you didn't ration them enough. Rather than just shooting all the time, maybe you should try to close to bayonet range to keep more bullets in reserve.

Moldywart
2012-06-03, 10:41 AM
If you run out of bullets in combat, it's because you didn't ration them enough. Rather than just shooting all the time, maybe you should try to close to bayonet range to keep more bullets in reserve.
Maybe you should let the guy who specializes in bayonet combat do his thing once the battle has tipped in your favor.

Vaal
2012-06-03, 11:46 AM
I think this problem links back to the difference between a wizard in a book and a wizard in a game.

In a book, it's totally okay for the wizard to futz around in the back of the party, chanting or ritualizing to start up a spell and only casting at key moments and later being utterly dead weight that needs to be protected until they recharge. More importantly, combat rounds don't exist in a book; people are all doing things at once.

But in a game, there's a person behind that wizard who is playing the game for fun and to be an awesome spellslinger. It isn't fair to make them 'sit out' combat rounds because literary wizards don't cast full auto and it certainly isn't okay for them to become dead weight that can't contribute half of each proscribed combat day.

Edit: That goes for a lot of bullshit stuff in the action system across all additions. Feints, drawing weapons, lots of forms of movement... they all make a sort of sense in the time they take up, but they often end up 'wasting' your combat round, which isn't fun in a game perspective.

Moldywart
2012-06-03, 1:18 PM
I think this problem links back to the difference between a wizard in a book and a wizard in a game.

In a book, it's totally okay for the wizard to futz around in the back of the party, chanting or ritualizing to start up a spell and only casting at key moments and later being utterly dead weight that needs to be protected until they recharge. More importantly, combat rounds don't exist in a book; people are all doing things at once.

But in a game, there's a person behind that wizard who is playing the game for fun and to be an awesome spellslinger. It isn't fair to make them 'sit out' combat rounds because literary wizards don't cast full auto and it certainly isn't okay for them to become dead weight that can't contribute half of each proscribed combat day.

Edit: That goes for a lot of bullshit stuff in the action system across all additions. Feints, drawing weapons, lots of forms of movement... they all make a sort of sense in the time they take up, but they often end up 'wasting' your combat round, which isn't fun in a game perspective.
I mostly agree, though I don't you have to do an action that feels awesome every round - that would lead to "awesome-inflation".

But what could the mage be doing when he isn't casting spells of mass destruction that feels satisfying but won't steal the fighters thunder?

As for giving some extra tools to the fighter, I reckon creating some feats that make attacks of opportunity much, MUCH scarier would be the way to go - though this would have to be balanced on a razors edge.

Vaal
2012-06-03, 2:07 PM
Awesome inflation is never and will never be a problem. You can't make a game that's too much fun.

The problems for 3e fighters trying to contribute are as follows (IMO)

1) They get pretty much the one type of action they can take.

2) Combat maneuvers suck and penalize you. Tripping, Feints, Pushing, and Grappling all make you pay a huge price in effectiveness to use them in a pathetic attempt to simulate 'realism', often invoking time consuming procedures for little gain.

3) You can't inflict an sort of status condition besides 'trip'. You can't stun people, you can't ring their bell or wear them down with a rope-a-dope. You are either stabbing or knocking someone down. And you can't hurt someone while knocking them down.

4) Iterative attacks are a cruel joke. Either hitting your target is trivial or you're just wasting time with more rolls.

5) All of your shiny, shiny feats got to buying shitty feats to get good ones later. I'm looking at you, Expertise. Indirectly, designing these feats with the fighter in mind fucks the rogue and to a lesser extent the ranger, who don't get enough feats to finish useful trees.

6) You're supposed to tank, but you don't have the tools. DR is difficult to get, two weak saves mean you're going to get jacked no matter how many hps you have and your damage output isn't enough to keep anything's attention when the wizard is hurling empowered orbs. Oh, and you need mommy cleric to fix your booboos.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-06-03, 2:07 PM
IMO a simple way to create a more viable fighter would be to give the class one or two 'sticky' abilities ala 4e. AoOs are okay but let's look at this from the perspective of a huge-ass scary monster.

The scenario: I am a huge-ass scary monster. The fighter is fighting me, and deals a fair amount of damage, but needs at least a few turns to take me down. Meanwhile, a wizard is casting spells at me, any of which could disable me single-handedly.

Optimal strategy: Eat the AoO from the fighter and crush the puny wizard ASAP. Unless the AoO does catastrophic damage, it's way better than being insta-killed by a spell.

However, let's say the fighter also prevents me from moving my full speed! Now the scary monster's strategy is not so straightforward. Let's say, for instance, that the fighter gains this ability at level 1:

"When you hit with an AoO, your target moves at half their normal speed for the rest of the turn."

I think movement is where you can implement some simple and meaningful fixes. This is, in fact, 4e's basic strategy: if a fighter gets all up in your grill, then you're kind of stuck in place. Edition wars aside, I think this makes the most sense. If a skilled, fantasy heroic fighter starts fighting you, it's hard to get away. Not only might you take extra damage, but movement itself is more difficult because it's not as if you can just stroll away from a skilled fighter.

Tortuga Bañana
2012-06-03, 2:19 PM
Making the fighter a proper tank also helps the spellcasters moderate their spellcasting as well. Let's consider this encounter:

4 goblin minions, 2 goblin archers, 1 tough hobgoblin leader.

Now, because the fighter can't properly tank, the party has to approach this encounter as if the hobgoblin could fight anybody. From the wizard's perspective, the optimal strategy is, "End this encounter as quickly as possible, because the hobgoblin can just walk up to me and hit me with an axe." Rationing spells is never so important that it outweighs basic survival calculations. Saving a big spell for a boss is meaningless if you die fighting a nameless hobgoblin.

However, if the fighter can properly tank, then this scenario becomes easier to manage. The wizard can think, "Well, the fighter can fight the hobgoblin, and the ranger can shoot the archers, and I might get scraped up by a goblin or two but I don't have to worry about the hobgoblin leader killing me instantly." And this means the wizard can approach this scenario and just say "Well I'll cast a few low-level spells and save my big spells for later."

edit: basically, giving the fighter reliable and useful abilities, even if they're relatively low-powered, immediately increases the fighter's value in a fight. When the fighter is both underpowered and unreliable, the party has to form strategies that - in so many words - assume the fighter isn't even part of the fight. When the fighter has a reliable ability (such as being a proper sticky tank), then the fighter becomes a valuable part of the team even if the wizard is more powerful, deals more damage, kills more people, etc. Because you can actually form strategies where the fighter plays an integral role, as opposed to being "someone who contributes some random amount of damage and absorbs some random amount of damage."