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Old 2012-05-30, 2:24 PM   #26
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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").
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Old 2012-05-30, 2:27 PM   #27
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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."

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Old 2012-05-30, 2:29 PM   #28
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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.
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Old 2012-05-30, 4:39 PM   #29
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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.
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Old 2012-05-30, 5:24 PM   #30
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"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.
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Old 2012-05-30, 7:14 PM   #31
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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.
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Old 2012-05-30, 7:42 PM   #32
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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.
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Old 2012-05-30, 8:10 PM   #33
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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.
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Old 2012-05-31, 4:06 AM   #34
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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.
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Old 2012-05-31, 7:23 AM   #35
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+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.

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Old 2012-05-31, 8:11 AM   #36
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+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.
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Old 2012-05-31, 9:23 AM   #37
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+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.

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Old 2012-05-31, 3:05 PM   #38
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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%.
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Old 2012-05-31, 3:15 PM   #39
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Please continue reading after the part you bolded.
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Old 2012-05-31, 3:21 PM   #40
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Old 2012-05-31, 3:25 PM   #41
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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.
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Old 2012-05-31, 3:31 PM   #42
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Old 2012-05-31, 3:38 PM   #43
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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.
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Old 2012-05-31, 3:45 PM   #44
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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.
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Old 2012-05-31, 3:49 PM   #45
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And later in the game, rolling becomes more and more redundant anyways.
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Old 2012-05-31, 3:51 PM   #46
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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.
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Old 2012-05-31, 5:02 PM   #47
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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".


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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.
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Old 2012-05-31, 5:14 PM   #48
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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.
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Old 2012-05-31, 5:20 PM   #49
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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.
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Old 2012-05-31, 5:24 PM   #50
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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.
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