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Timeless Error
2010-11-23, 07:13 PM
So, there are a few things I was wondering about concerning the tier system for classes by JaronK.

(I know, this stuff must sound pretty simple to you experts out there, but I'm pretty new to D&D and I've never played nor DM'd an adventure beyond second level, so I don't have much experience.)

1) In an adventure where players pick a race, a class, and a few feats that look cool and go with it, where wizards consider fireball to be their most powerful spell, where character optimization has never been touched nor even heard of (my group, for example), does the tier system really matter? Are all characters in the same boat? I would guess that tier ones and twos would still take the lead (after all, they're bound to notice teleport, genesis, and shapechange eventually), but as I mentioned earlier, I don't have much experience with the game yet. In your opinion, would it really make a difference?

2) What tiers work well together? I know that a tier one would be out of place in a group of tier fives, but would a tier three class in a party of tier fours outdo everyone else? Would a tier two be undermined in a party of tier ones?

3) What effect does the tier system have on Encounter Level and XP? Would it be fair to challenge a group of tier fours with a tier three? A tier two? Would an encounter with a tier five be to easy?

4) What factors do you take into account when determining the tier of a class (besides the obvious checking spell lists for game breakers like teleport and gate)?

5) If anyone is familiar with the Advanced Player's Manual by Skip Williams (published by Green Ronin), would you be kind enough to evaluate the tiers for the classes in there (including the appendix on the psychic)?

6) And, just for fun...what is your favorite tier to play?

Thanks in advance for answering my questions! :smallsmile:

--Timeless Error

Amphetryon
2010-11-23, 07:26 PM
1) In a world where players pick a race, a class, and a few feats that look cool and go with it, where wizards consider fireball to be their most powerful spell, where character optimization has never been touched nor even heard of (my group, for example), does the tier system really matter? Are all characters in the same boat? I would guess that tier ones and twos would still take the lead (after all, they're bound to notice teleport, genesis, and shapechange eventually), but as I mentioned earlier, I don't have much experience with the game yet. In your opinion, would it really make a difference?

2) What tiers work well together? I know that a tier one would be out of place in a group of tier fives, but would a tier three class in a party of tier fours outdo everyone else? Would a tier two be undermined in a party of tier ones?

3) What effect does the tier system have on Encounter Level and XP? Would it be fair to challenge a group of tier fours with a tier three? A tier two? Would an encounter with a tier five be to easy?

4) What factors do you take into account when determining the tier of a class (besides the obvious checking spell lists for game breakers like teleport and gate)?

5) If anyone is familiar with the Advanced Player's Manual by Skip Williams (published by Green Ronin), would you be kind enough to evaluate the tiers for the classes in there (including the appendix on the psychic)?

6) And, just for fun...what is your favorite tier to play?

Thanks in advance for answering my questions! :smallsmile:

--Timeless Error

1) The Tiers assume everyone at the table plays at the same level of optimization, roughly. A Fireball Wizard is still Tier 1 compared to a Sword n Board Fighter. The Wizard also has the opportunity to do much more than a Fighter does, overall, regardless of whether those opportunities are pursued.

2) Tiers work most closely together when everyone is within 1 Tier of each other. Tier 2s can play with 1s or 3s without either feeling especially out of place, but all three Tiers together will start to show the powers of Tier 1 while Tier 3 starts to lag.

3) XP should not be influenced, IMHO.

4) Not my system. I think he addresses this, though.

5) Not familiar.

6) I prefer Tier 3 and 4 characters most. It creates the atmosphere I'm most interested in, without phenomenal cosmic power coming out of everyone's ears. Tier 3 also has the widest variety of archetypes, I think.

Frosty
2010-11-23, 07:34 PM
The main part of judging what tier a class belongs to is versatility and options. The more effective options a class has, the higher tier it is.

erikun
2010-11-23, 07:34 PM
The tier system if fundamentally a measure of how powerful a character is, and how well they can adapt or prepare for a given situation. A Fighter is a higher tier than a CW Samurai because one is statistically stronger, but a Psychic Warrior is a higher tier than a Fighter because it has the ability to work in more areas than the Fighter.

All tiers assume basic classes with all material and a decent level of optimization. That is, the Wizard can learn any spell they wish and prepare the most efficient ones, but is not an optimized fireball caster, nor is he Pun-Pun.

1) As for how heavily optimization applies, I don't think it really weighs into the tier system. An unoptimized Wizard can be worse than an unoptimized Fighter, because even a poorly build Fighter can still swing a weapon at an opponent. (A poorly build Wizard, though, could end up with spells that are not helpful at all in a challange.) A Druid is a lot harder to "mess up," though, and even unoptimized Druids tend to outshine most melee classes. Most Monk, even optimized ones, run into problems unless they are in a low-treasure campaign.

2) Tiers can work together just fine. It largely depends on the attitudes of the players, and how the optimization is handled. ClericZilla can party happily with Commoners and Soulknifes if they focus on buffing their teammates. Batman Wizards can work just fine magically opening chests and charming guards if the party doesn't have a Rogue or Bard, or if the party just doesn't want to deal with such challanges.

The largest problems with tiers occur when one character outclasses another in their speciality (even unintentionally, see Fighter vs. Druid) or if one character routinely falls behind the rest of the party in every situation.

3) Tiers are about how well a class can work when optimized, and what challanges they can face. A properly optimized and smart party can take apart most challanges, regardless of CR. Conversely, a poorly optimized or dense party can be defeated by CRs exceptionally lower through clever planning. (see: Tucker's Kobolds) The best way to challange optimized characters is with smart planning from monsters and varied challanges, not just something bigger.

4) How many situations the class can deal with, and how easy it is to change solutions, determine tier. Healer can really only do one thing (heal) and that doesn't solve many problems, hence the low tier. Wizards can deal with numerous situations very effectively, and can change their options every day, hence their high tier. The reason that Wizards are higher than Sorcerers is because a Wizard can change his spells daily (to fit the challange) while a Sorcerer cannot.

5) Nope, never heard of it.

6) Tier 2-Tier 3. I'm a fan of psionics, which typically falls into these two tiers. I don't mind outliers, either high (Wizard) or low (Ranger) as long as they aren't intentionally designed to break the game/be useless, respectively.

Keld Denar
2010-11-23, 07:39 PM
1) All things being equal, it is still easier to "accidentally" optimize a class like the druid or the wizard. Given the open ended nature of their abilities, simply trying a different option might result in the knowledge that x is stronger than y, whereas a class with less flexability might not make such a discovery as easily. Optimization levels being equal and low, the difference will be less pronounced, but is still likely to be seen.

2) A lot of people consider Tier 3 to be the sweet spot. As long as optimization levels stay pretty low, T2-T4 should all play along with each other nicely. At higher optimization levels, a narrower band of T3-T4 will result in relatively balanced play.

3) RAW wise, XP should not be affected. That said, if the entire party is T1 and optimization levels are high, encounters have to be made tougher to be more challenging. This doesn't mean higher CR monsters, but smarter encounters to counter smarter played characters. A half dozen gobos with short swords are gonna be a cake walk, but the same half dozen gobos with short bows firing from cover would be tougher. Same CR, same XP, different EL.

4) Tiers are a measure of versatility. The more adaptive a class is from day to day, challenge to challenge, the higher tier it is. Spellcasters, especially those with adaptive spell lists (wizards, clerics, druids) tend to rate the highest because they can potentially always have the proper tool for the job. Spellcasters with fixed lists (sorcerer, beguiler, etc) are a slightly lower tier. They have fewer tools, but those tools are powerful enough to accomplish a pretty wide spectrum of goals. Not the best tool, but one that is good enough. Classes that have NO versatility (fighter with his fixed feats) typically rank lower. They can do one or two things really good, but if those aren't the proper tool, they really suffer. Etc.

5) No idea. If you are familiar, you might be able to do this. As stated, its simply a measure of versatility, rather than shear power. I can build a barbarian that can deal 50,000 damage in a round. That doesn't make barbarian T1.

6) As stated, T3 tends to be the sweet spot for most people. The spellcasters in it are decent, but not too strong. The support classes have a fair number of options, and melee consists mostly of ToB classes and the Totemist, all the versatile and varied options on a round/round and day/day basis.

Augmented Lurk
2010-11-23, 07:40 PM
1. Having played in and DMing for numerous unoptimized groups i can say that it usually doesn't. However, some classes are far more powerful in unoptimized games, most notably the Tome of Battle classes.

2. It depends on the optimization level. I've DMed for groups that ranged from 1 to 5 and experienced no noticeable imbalance.

3. It depends on the level of the classes involved and how well the DM builds the character. An optimized level 18 sorcerer (t2) would probably defeat a level 14 tier one party, for instance.

6. 3

Curmudgeon
2010-11-23, 07:47 PM
There are some good answers already, so I'll just add my 6) answer:

Tiers 4-5, assuming the rest of the party plays around Tiers 2-3. I enjoy the optimization challenge, and generally have no problems making my characters equal contributors to the party's goals.

Akal Saris
2010-11-23, 07:50 PM
And for a 3rd opinion :smallbiggrin:

1) The optimization assumes core, the book the character was printed in, and 1-2 books that are very important to optimizing the class in JaronK's estimation. So a factotum is assumed to have access to the Iajutsu Focus skill from Oriental Adventures, for example, since skill optimization is a factotum's core strength.

2) In the end, it's all about the players and the DM. Different tiers sometimes make it more challenging for DMs to challenge the entire party effectively, especially if you have two characters with a similar role. I'd say tiers 1-3 all work together well enough.

3) In my opinion, CR presumes a party at tier 4 in core (aka 'blaster wizard and rogue tier'), and tier 3 in later Monster Manuals. Adjust accordingly.

4) JaronK was primarily concerned with versatility in solving encounters. So a character who can teleport, charm, create a bridge, scry, fly, blast, summon, or cast save or dies (basically a L11+ wizard, cleric, or druid) can probably solve nearly any encounter that he's faced with, and he can change his list on a daily basis to adapt to expected challenges, and on "downtime" days he can craft items or cast long-lasting spells to prepare for the next day. It's quite difficult for a fighter to match that.

5) Sorry mate!

6) I like tier 1 and tier 3-4. None of the T2 classes appeal to me, since I value versatility over sheer power, and classes lower than T4 generally lack the options that I want. With that said, I disagree on the exact placement of several classes, so I don't necessarily take JaronK at his word either. But the overall intent is good.

Frosty
2010-11-23, 07:51 PM
1. Having played in and DMing for numerous unoptimized groups i can say that it usually doesn't. However, some classes are far more powerful in unoptimized games, most notably the Tome of Battle classes.

2. It depends on the optimization level. I've DMed for groups that ranged from 1 to 5 and experienced no noticeable imbalance.

3. It depends on the level of the classes involved and how well the DM builds the character. An optimized level 18 sorcerer (t2) would probably defeat a level 14 tier one party, for instance.

6. 3

The tier system does not point out how optimized classes are *out of the box*. For newbies, that kinda information would be slightly more useful than the tier list, but the tier list is still a good resource. ToB classes just happen to come pre-optimized for tier 3 play.

With that said, I disagree on the exact placement of several classes, so I don't necessarily take JaronK at his word either. But the overall intent is good.
Which placements do you disagree with?

molten_dragon
2010-11-23, 07:52 PM
Just a quick add-on to this question. His original list leaves out quite a few classes. Is there another list somewhere that includes them, or am I going to have to dig through the posts looking for mentions of them?

Keld Denar
2010-11-23, 07:56 PM
I believe the post on Brilliant Gameologists is the most recently updated list. Check that one first. The one on the boards formally known as gleemax, formally known as CharOp...I doubt that one has been touched in years.

PS, JaronK posts on this forum, under the username...JaronK. If you have any burning questions, you could always send him a PM!

Psyren
2010-11-23, 07:58 PM
Just a quick add-on to this question. His original list leaves out quite a few classes. Is there another list somewhere that includes them, or am I going to have to dig through the posts looking for mentions of them?

He has said that approximating the tiers of missing classes is something individuals should be able to accomplish fairly easily with the guidelines presented, so it's not worth updating to include every single base class in 3.5.

Timeless Error
2010-11-23, 08:02 PM
Thanks to everyone for the replies so far! So, to recap, from what I can gather...

1) There was some disagreement on this, but the general consensus seems to be "Yes, the tier system is still in effect even when optimization does not come into play."

2) Basically, tier ones, twos, and threes work well together, but even a tier one will not outshine a tier five if the tier one is a team player and devotes time to filling empty roles and buffing other players.

3) In short, no, XP and EL are not affected. With good tactics, an adventuring group can overcome practically any encounter, but even if strategy is lacking, the change in power is not drastic enough to justify an XP modification.

4) Versatility is the key element in the tier system.

5) Nobody so far has heard of the Advanced Player's Manual? Well, I guess that doesn't really surprise me, as it's a random third-party sourcebook that I sort of pulled out of the blue. Hopefully, if nobody comes along and resolves the issue, I'll be able to work it out myself with the information you guys gave me on evaluating tiers.

6) It seems that so far, most people aim for the tier 3 area.

--Timeless Error

Psyren
2010-11-23, 08:06 PM
Thanks to everyone for the replies so far! So, to recap, from what I can gather...

1) There was some disagreement on this, but the general consensus seems to be "Yes, the tier system is still in effect even when optimization does not come into play."

The Tier system represents potential. Potential does not change regardless of actual optimization involved, just as your Porsche doesn't stop being a sports car just because you intentionally drive it as slowly as the Prius next to you in traffic. :smalltongue:



2) Basically, tier ones, twos, and threes work well together, but even a tier one will not outclass a tier five if the tier one is a team player and devotes time to filling empty roles and buffing other players.


That depends on your definition of "outclass." (A better word might be "outshine" here.)



6) It seems that so far, most people aim for the tier 3 area.

--Timeless Error

Tier 3 is the sweet spot between one's character feeling irrelevant and one's group feeling irrelevant.

Timeless Error
2010-11-23, 08:14 PM
That depends on your definition of "outclass." (A better word might be "outshine" here.)

OK, cool, I fixed it.


Tier 3 is the sweet spot between one's character feeling irrelevant and one's group feeling irrelevant.

Would you say that tier fours already begin to feel like they are useless? I mean, a tier five feeling useless I can understand (as they are, in fact, mostly use impaired), but tier fours generally have at least one area at which they can excel. Right?

Frosty
2010-11-23, 08:17 PM
Tier 5s would not feel useless in a group with lots of tier 4s, but would in a group of tier 3s and above. It's all relative.

Prime32
2010-11-23, 08:20 PM
I believe the post on Brilliant Gameologists is the most recently updated list. Check that one first. The one on the boards formally known as gleemax, formally known as CharOp...I doubt that one has been touched in years.Note that there are two threads on BG. The one with "Repost" in its title is more current.

Amphetryon
2010-11-23, 08:21 PM
Would you say that tier fours already begin to feel like they are useless? I mean, a tier five feeling useless I can understand (as they are, in fact, mostly use impaired), but tier fours generally have at least one area at which they can excel. Right?That depends on what their area is, and how often it comes into play. Also, consider how much enjoyment you get out of that particular area of play. I like Hexblades, for example, because they are debuffer-focused characters in a primarily melee role. If you're one that prefers options besides debuffing - for example, if you like AoE effects - the lack of versatility relative to your preferred niche will likely be grating on you, and potentially your group as a result.

Gnaeus
2010-11-23, 08:24 PM
The tier system does not point out how optimized classes are *out of the box*. For newbies, that kinda information would be slightly more useful than the tier list, but the tier list is still a good resource. ToB classes just happen to come pre-optimized for tier 3 play.

Which placements do you disagree with?

Without speaking for Akal, there are a number of placements that I disagree with. They mostly hinge on 3 questions:
1. Are characters assumed to have WBL of equipment at an optimization level similar to their character? (Tier system assumes no, If yes, some classes like UMDers will shift)
2. What is equivalent optimization between class X&Y?
3. What dirty tricks does the DM allow/not allow?

Rogue, for example, could hit tier 3 depending on the answer to #1. Beguiler and sorcerer could be in the same tier depending on the answers to 2&3. That said, I wouldn't move any class by more than one tier, and the system as a whole is useful, it is just blurry around the edges, since it is based on one (albeit one very experienced) player's opinions and what he determined to be a "normal" campaign.

Timeless Error
2010-11-23, 08:25 PM
That depends on what their area is, and how often it comes into play. Also, consider how much enjoyment you get out of that particular area of play. I like Hexblades, for example, because they are debuffer-focused characters in a primarily melee role. If you're one that prefers options besides debuffing - for example, if you like AoE effects - the lack of versatility relative to your preferred niche will likely be grating on you, and potentially your group as a result.

Well first of all, I'm not in the best position to consider which area of play I enjoy the most, since I'm not a seasoned gamer, only which area of play I think I would enjoy the most. I'm also not familiar with the abbreviation AoE. Did you mean AoO (Attack of Opportunity)? Nitpicking aside, I see your point.

Psyren
2010-11-23, 08:26 PM
Would you say that tier fours already begin to feel like they are useless? I mean, a tier five feeling useless I can understand (as they are, in fact, mostly use impaired), but tier fours generally have at least one area at which they can excel. Right?

As JaronK himself posted, T4 actually comes in two main flavors:

1) I have an area I excel at, but when it comes to tasks not requiring that area I tend to fall short;

2) I can do lots of different things, but can't really do any of them particularly well.

Rogues are the poster-child of (1) - great skillmonkeys, but in combat they are mediocre at best and totally handicapped at worse. This is also the type you're referring to.

Warlocks are the poster-child of (2) - A Warlock can try his hand at almost any role in the game, but is never quite good enough at any of them to really stand out.

T4s (the first type) feel like they are useless anytime their niche is not needed. Drop a rogue into a fight with some golems, or set him to guard a location against an incoming horde, and his class will feel pretty ill-suited to the task at hand.

Amphetryon
2010-11-23, 08:42 PM
AoE = Area of Effect. Referencing both blast effects like Fireball, and things like Entangle or Solid Fog that stick around for more than a nanosecond.

Timeless Error
2010-11-23, 08:44 PM
AoE = Area of Effect. Referencing both blast effects like Fireball, and things like Entangle or Solid Fog that stick around for more than a nanosecond.

Oh, OK. Thanks for clarifying.

erikun
2010-11-23, 08:45 PM
3) In short, no, XP and EL are not affected. With good tactics, an adventuring group can overcome practically any encounter, but even if strategy is lacking, the change in power is not drastic enough to justify an XP modification.
Not quite. We're saying that smart playing (player optimization) should be met with smart playing (good tactics, optimization, or both) rather than simply increasing CR or decreasing rewards.

High optimization can bring a very drastic change to the game, but the CR system does not deal with that change very well - opposing tactics and/or optimization does.

JaronK
2010-11-23, 08:51 PM
2) Basically, tier ones, twos, and threes work well together, but even a tier one will not outshine a tier five if the tier one is a team player and devotes time to filling empty roles and buffing other players.

Note there's a thread right now about someone trying to play a Druid (T1) in a party full of T4s and below. The player is finding it extremely frustrating because the class is so full of win buttons that it's hard not to dominate even in the barbarian's areas of specialty... and note this is Pathfinder, which actually nerfed the Druid. So while it's possible to play nice, it can actually get difficult.

T4s are partly defined by the fact that sometimes, they're kinda useless. Barbarians are amazing in melee combat, especially while charging, but have almost nothing else going for them, so as soon as the current encounter becomes "sneak through these trap filled caves undetected" or "meet up with the underground resistance leader and convince him you're here to help" or even sometimes "destroy this enemy who is far more maneuverable than you and is using ranged tactics." Rogues are great when skills actually matter and they have the right ones... but good luck in a battle with a plant or an ooze or an elemental or even often with undead or golems if you don't have exactly the right gear. Or heck, a fight where the enemy could easily take down your D6 HD lightly armored butt so flanking would be nearly suicidal and from 30 feet away you can't trigger sneak attack for some reason.

This just means as a DM you have to make sure T4s get their times to shine. If I've got a party that's Barbarian, Warmage, Rogue, Crusader, then I'm going to have to make sure this is going to be mostly combat, and I can shift it between ranged swarms (when I want the Warmage to look good) and big single bosses (when I want the Barbarian to look good), while being careful to make sure the Rogue is also useful. I can't throw a lot of diplomatic intrigue around, because while the Crusader and Rogue will be fine there, the Warmage and Barbarian will get really bored really fast. I don't really have to worry about the Crusader though. He'll be fine no matter what.

Still, this can make life easier on the DM, because players become more predictable.

JaronK

Godskook
2010-11-23, 09:22 PM
1) In an adventure where players pick a race, a class, and a few feats that look cool and go with it, where wizards consider fireball to be their most powerful spell, where character optimization has never been touched nor even heard of (my group, for example), does the tier system really matter? Are all characters in the same boat? I would guess that tier ones and twos would still take the lead (after all, they're bound to notice teleport, genesis, and shapechange eventually), but as I mentioned earlier, I don't have much experience with the game yet. In your opinion, would it really make a difference?

Honestly, player awareness plays a greater role at this point than tiers. That S&B fighter who's standing in front, taking *ALL* the blows, and dealing *ALL* the damage isn't going to notice that the wizard just cast web on 90% of the enemies, or that the encounter was ended by coup-de-graces.


2) What tiers work well together? I know that a tier one would be out of place in a group of tier fives, but would a tier three class in a party of tier fours outdo everyone else? Would a tier two be undermined in a party of tier ones?

Well, that depends on the group, but tier 3 classes have a hard time being everywhere at once, so its possible for even commoners to shine alongside warblades, for instance, provided the spotlight is bigger than the warblade can fill.

Tier 2 classes tend to be more single-schtick than tier 3 or 1 classes are, so again, big spotlights. Although it'll be hard to wedge anything lower than tier 4 in without it being painfully apparent.

Tier 1s, however, we're talking maybe tier 3s, and that's it.

'Course, this can be mitigated by the high-tiered classes willfully restricting themselves out of certain fields of play. For instance, the casters never learn the feat summon elemental or bother preparing "Summon dead celestial monkey". Then there's room for a rogue to shine in the party, since the wizard can't(or won't) do traps.


3) What effect does the tier system have on Encounter Level and XP? Would it be fair to challenge a group of tier fours with a tier three? A tier two? Would an encounter with a tier five be to easy?

1.Tier is dependent on optimization levels.

2.Tier is a group dynamic, and can not be directly applied to CR.


4) What factors do you take into account when determining the tier of a class (besides the obvious checking spell lists for game breakers like teleport and gate)?

Let's see:

1.How many skills it gets access to, both in terms of skill list size, variety, and # of skill points. Also includes access to trapfinding or an alternative method.

2.Ability to deal a reasonable amount of damage or damage-equivalent(Negative levels in-class counts here).

3.Healing in-class, especially if non-cheesy(i.e., cleric healing is more valuable than Dread Necro healing, since DMs will more likely allow it)

4.Yes, game-breakers.

5.Durability in regards to party role. A fighter gets shut down by any number of tactics that would deprive him of his weapon. A wizard gets shut down by loss of LoE and/or LoS, but so does *EVERYONE* else.


5) If anyone is familiar with the Advanced Player's Manual by Skip Williams (published by Green Ronin), would you be kind enough to evaluate the tiers for the classes in there (including the appendix on the psychic)?

Not familiar


6) And, just for fun...what is your favorite tier to play?

Tier 4 or better. Tier 3 or better if the DM is a stickler for rules like multiclassing penalties.

Timeless Error
2010-11-23, 09:26 PM
Note there's a thread right now about someone trying to play a Druid (T1) in a party full of T4s and below. The player is finding it extremely frustrating because the class is so full of win buttons that it's hard not to dominate even in the barbarian's areas of specialty... and note this is Pathfinder, which actually nerfed the Druid. So while it's possible to play nice, it can actually get difficult.

T4s are partly defined by the fact that sometimes, they're kinda useless. Barbarians are amazing in melee combat, especially while charging, but have almost nothing else going for them, so as soon as the current encounter becomes "sneak through these trap filled caves undetected" or "meet up with the underground resistance leader and convince him you're here to help" or even sometimes "destroy this enemy who is far more maneuverable than you and is using ranged tactics." Rogues are great when skills actually matter and they have the right ones... but good luck in a battle with a plant or an ooze or an elemental or even often with undead or golems if you don't have exactly the right gear. Or heck, a fight where the enemy could easily take down your D6 HD lightly armored butt so flanking would be nearly suicidal and from 30 feet away you can't trigger sneak attack for some reason.

This just means as a DM you have to make sure T4s get their times to shine. If I've got a party that's Barbarian, Warmage, Rogue, Crusader, then I'm going to have to make sure this is going to be mostly combat, and I can shift it between ranged swarms (when I want the Warmage to look good) and big single bosses (when I want the Barbarian to look good), while being careful to make sure the Rogue is also useful. I can't throw a lot of diplomatic intrigue around, because while the Crusader and Rogue will be fine there, the Warmage and Barbarian will get really bored really fast. I don't really have to worry about the Crusader though. He'll be fine no matter what.

Still, this can make life easier on the DM, because players become more predictable.

JaronK

Hi JaronK,

Yes, I noticed the PF Druid thread some time after posting this. I see why it's hard not to outsine a party with a tier one class. Then again, building a battlefield controller is not the same as hanging back and buffing (which probably isn't that fun, but from what I can gather it's what a tier one has to do in order to avoid besting other PCs). As to the rest of your post, no, tier fours won't be useful in every scenario, but neither will tier threes. That crusader is going to have as tough a time getting through the trap-laden cave as the barbarian. The crusader will come in useful more often, and his abilities are more powerful, but the difference isn't all that drastic.

Psyren
2010-11-23, 09:38 PM
That crusader is going to have as tough a time getting through the trap-laden cave as the barbarian. The crusader will come in useful more often, and his abilities are more powerful, but the difference isn't all that drastic.

Would he? Can a Barbarian Take 11 on saving throws, give himself DR, take extra 5-foot steps, grant his allies additional move actions or change the initiative order to get the party through such an area? A Crusader can do all of those things. And all of that is without monsters around - add monsters to the traps and the Crusader's job actually gets easier, while the Barbarian's gets harder.

erikun
2010-11-23, 09:38 PM
As to the rest of your post, no, tier fours won't be useful in every scenario, but neither will tier threes. That crusader is going to have as tough a time getting through the trap-laden cave as the barbarian.
The problem is that the Barbarian is only good at fighting - dealing damage, actually. Virtually anything else, beyond surviving in the wild, will leave the Barbarian hanging out in the back of the party. The Crusader can deal damage, take damage, keep others from being hurt, heal, and talk with NPCs with relative ease, all on the same character.


As for the Druid... the Druid is a lot easier to optimize, because it is a lot easier to see the effective options and make use of them. Compare the Wizard to the Psion. The Wizard is tier 1, can have access to any spell on his spell list and can change them every day. The Psion is tier 2, can only memorize a specific number of powers and doesn't have full access to all lists.

And yet, most new players would be more successful with a Psion than a Wizard. The difference is that some of the optimized option for the Psion to take are very easy to use and obvious to choose. There is not Wizard spell like the Energy Ray power, which can be used from level 1 to level 20 and is effective throughout his career.

Curmudgeon
2010-11-23, 10:05 PM
Rogues are the poster-child of (1) - great skillmonkeys, but in combat they are mediocre at best and totally handicapped at worse.
You're not doing Rogues properly, then.

Some ways to make Rogues better in combat:

Craven feat (Champions of Ruin) adds +1 point per character level to sneak attack damage. Even multiclassing into non-sneak attack classes still boosts your sneak attack damage.
Lightbringer Penetrating Strike ACF (Expedition to Castle Ravenloft) enables sneak attack with Ĺ the normal dice against sneak-immune foes you flank. (Since Craven bonus damage isn't from dice, it isn't reduced.)
A keen rapier has a 15-20 threat range. Since Craven bonus damage isn't from dice, it gets doubled on a critical sneak attack.
Get Hide in Plain Sight, and maximize your Hide skill. Hide while attacking your foe, gain +2 to each attack from being visually undetectable, and enable sneak attack each hit.
Get a reliable flanking partner. If you don't have a PC flanking buddy, apply Use Magic Device to a Summon Monster wand. The summoned critter doesn't need to do anything other than flank for you. Flanking adds +2 to each attack.
Add extra hits. Buy Improved Unarmed Strike via a cheap item, and take Snap Kick (Tome of Battle) to add an unarmed strike to any melee attack form (full attack, standard attack, AoO, or bonus attack). Extra hits are how you do extra sneak attack damage.
Add 2 points of STR ability damage on each hit with Crippling Strike. The Savvy Rogue feat makes this happen even against sneak-immune foes ─ like swarms of Tiny creatures.
Walk around with a missile weapon ready to fire (typically a composite shortbow, or longbow if Elf). With Spot skill maximized you'll rarely be surprised, so you can add sneak attack damage against foes within 30'. On the first regular round of combat fire at flat-footed enemies, adding sneak attack damage each hit. You may get a couple of kills before anybody else in your party even has a chance to act.
Enable full sneak attack damage against other creature types with gear. Add a cheap wand chamber to your rapier so you can UMD wands like Grave Strike (undead), Golem Strike (constructs), and Vine Strike (plants).

Psyren
2010-11-23, 10:08 PM
You're not doing Rogues properly, then.

You can optimize anything to that level, even Samurai - but that's not the point. The point is that you have to or be gimp.

shadow_archmagi
2010-11-23, 10:36 PM
Tiers are a measure of power and the versatility of that power. For instance, say you want to storm a castle.

A fighter trying to singlehandedly capture a castle has severely limited options. He could, um, maybe run in and stab everyone. He doesn't have Diplomacy as a class skill so that probably won't work. He can't really stealth his way through, or assassinate guards.

Maybe a fighter with the right equipment could fly around and strafe the defenders, picking them off one at a time while taking minimal damage. Maybe.

Thus, the fighter is low tier. He only has one skill (Fighting) and he can't even really accomplish much with it.



Meanwhile, a factotum has spells, healing, sneaking, dancing, diplomacy, *and* some fighting.

Curmudgeon
2010-11-23, 10:47 PM
You can optimize anything to that level, even Samurai - but that's not the point. The point is that you have to or be gimp.
You claimed that Rogues are great skillmonkeys but can't rise past mediocre in combat. I showed how Rogues can be much better than mediocre in combat, and they're still great skillmonkeys. In fact, much of the boost to combat comes because they've got great skills: Spot, Hide, Use Magic Device, & c. The Savvy Rogue feat, which I extolled because it enables STR damage against oozes, elementals, plants, swarms, constructs, and undead, can also let the Rogue "take 12" on a whole bunch of skills. That means when you've got a target DC (such as 40 to make a 10' adjustment instead of a 5' step using Tumble) you only need enough ranks to hit that target with a 12; you don't need those extra ranks to cover rolling numbers 1-11. (The Wizard needs to sacrifice their familiar to do something like this a few times/day with Abrupt Jaunt, but spends an immediate action do do so. The Rogue can move 10' out of cover with Tumble and sneak attack via the Move between Cover use of Hide, and still has a swift action available to spend on Use Magic Device to activate a wand for full sneak attack damage against plants, constructs, or undead. They have no per-day limit for these skills.)

Good or better in combat; excellent out of combat. Avoid the speeding sling bullets, cripple the guy built like a locomotive, and Climb over tall buildings ─ that's the Rogue, done right. :smallbiggrin:

Psyren
2010-11-23, 11:00 PM
You claimed that Rogues are great skillmonkeys but can't rise past mediocre in combat.

By "at best" I meant out of the box. Again, you can optimize any tier, even T5 (Fighters and Samurai.) But if you have that much op-fu experience, the tier system is a less meaningful tool for you than, say, someone who thinks rogues are great and doesn't see the pitfalls ahead.

Curmudgeon
2010-11-23, 11:10 PM
By "at best" I meant out of the box.
That makes no sense to me. "Best" always has to be better than all other options. If you disallow options ("out of the box") there's no "best" to discuss.

Keld Denar
2010-11-23, 11:17 PM
As has been mentioned, the tier system assumes only the base class, and only with material out of the book it comes in or a very small selection of books. Grabbing half a dozen ACFs and feats from half a dozen books is a higher level of optimization than the tier system bases its premise on.

I agree, Rogues are a great class when you know where to look and what to get and do. Druid is a great class when you take the one feat in the PHB that specifically references them. Thats the difference. A big difference.

JaronK
2010-11-24, 01:31 AM
Hi JaronK,

Yes, I noticed the PF Druid thread some time after posting this. I see why it's hard not to outsine a party with a tier one class. Then again, building a battlefield controller is not the same as hanging back and buffing (which probably isn't that fun, but from what I can gather it's what a tier one has to do in order to avoid besting other PCs). As to the rest of your post, no, tier fours won't be useful in every scenario, but neither will tier threes. That crusader is going to have as tough a time getting through the trap-laden cave as the barbarian. The crusader will come in useful more often, and his abilities are more powerful, but the difference isn't all that drastic.

It's actually surprising how useful that Crusader will be. For example, the ability to just break through any material by ignoring hardness with the right maneuver is quite handy for getting through trap laden caves (and virtually all Crusaders of level 3+ will have a maneuver to do that). If a trap gets triggered and deals hp damage the Crusader can heal people afterwords. Even if the Crusader gets pinned in place or somehow made unable to directly help the combat (or other time sensitive encounter), White Raven Tactics means once every three rounds he effectively gives whoever is most useful in that situation an extra whole turn.

It ends up being pretty noticeable in the long run.

As for Rogues... well, sometimes you just have to play them to see the problems. Suffice to say, they have quite a number, especially if the DM doesn't cater to what you need. Craven's cute, but +20 damage per hit at level 20 isn't as amazing as many people seem to think (compare to the +hundreds of Power Attack/Shock Trooper, or the straight forward "no you're screwed" spells that get tossed around at that level). Plus you can't ever be immune to fear, which is one of those immunities you really should have at higher levels, so you end up with quite the Achilles heel. Lightbringer is a critical fix that helps, but because you only deal half dice in damage it doesn't do nearly enough. +2d6 damage at level 10? +5d6 damage at level 20? It's just not enough considering the number of hitpoints enemies have at that level. Hiding in combat takes move actions in between every attack. That's just a terrible idea, dropping your damage into the toilet. Flanking is nice, but with d6 HD and light armor, that puts you in the middle of harm's way with little chance of survival if the enemy attacks you instead of the Fighter (or whatever). And while extra attacks are nice, you only have so many feats (TWF+ITWF+GTWF+IUS+Snap Kick + Weapon Finesse+Craven = all your feats). Snap kicking? No, you need to weapon enchants to actually deal useful damage. You certainly won't have the feats for anything else like Savvy Rogue. Crippling strike is certainly nice though, and well worth it, but not enough. And if you think it's easy to use gear to sneak attack everything fully, well, that's just not true. Elementals and Oozes are completely immune,and the other types require buying specific gear in advance just to make your abilities work at all (if you don't see those enemies, you wasted the money). Plus, using wands in combat like that ends up being very iffy for a variety of reasons.

Compare all this to something like the Factotum (one tier up). Instead of needing Truedeath Crystals or Gravestrike Wands to deal with undead, he can just do it in general... or he could buy a Rod of Defiance and Lyre of the Restful Soul and turn them to death instantly. Iajuitsu Focus, meanwhile, doesn't care about types and no one's immune to it (though it's harder to trigger). You want stealth? The Factotum just does it better thanks to Int to Str and Dex skills. What about all those other random rarely used skills, like Forgery, Craft, and even Diplomacy (you rarely need that many times per day)? Just put a single rank into them and you're a master. Not to mention access to tons of utility spells and the ability to play havoc on the action economy.

Beguilers are also noticeably better than Rogues, for reasons that should be obvious.

Meanwhile, it should also be readily apparent that Experts and Ninjas just can't quite keep up with Rogues.

JaronK

Psyren
2010-11-24, 01:47 AM
That makes no sense to me. "Best" always has to be better than all other options. If you disallow options ("out of the box") there's no "best" to discuss.

It does when you're talking about people that will not go to great lengths to optimize their characters - in short, the very people the tier system is meant to help.

I can see you're just out to win the "technicality" award, so I'll stop the dance routine here.

EDIT: Thank you Keld Denar

Caphi
2010-11-24, 01:56 AM
You're not doing Rogues properly, then.

You have to do all that and you'll still not measure up to a druid being played by someone who just sat down at the table?

How does this make a proper rogue?

JaronK
2010-11-24, 02:12 AM
I want to be clear, because I get this every time I point out Rogue flaws: I don't hate Rogues. I love them. They're the exact character type I prefer to play in any system. But this is why I know their flaws so much across so many DMing styles... I've just done it so much. I've seen what happens. And I finally move on to Factotums and the difference was eye opening. Yes, you can fight hard to make Rogues work, but that same effort into higher Tier classes yields greater rewards by far.

JaronK

LordBlades
2010-11-24, 02:21 AM
My 2 cents on the OP's questions.

1) Yes and no, depends on the class and how much knowledge and forethought it takes to make the most out of it. For example, my first char ever was a sorcerer that was able to fee quite underpowered-ish in a party with sword&board fighter and monk. I was picking feats&spells that sounded cool, so I ended up stuck with stuff like scorching ray&fireball. On the other hand my 2nd char was a druid. I was able to blow rangers&barbarians out of th water just by turning into a bear. It definitely felt overwpored back then.

2) Usually 1 tier apart assuming decent levels of optimization.More than that and the bottom tiers really start to feel left behind.

3) By RAW, no effect. A 20th level wizard is the same CR as a 20th level monk, but as a DM you should take the actual power level into consideration.

4) Power and Versatility. JaronK's thread on brilliantgameologists has a pretty thorugh explanation about what it means to be in tier x.

5) Never heard of that book, sorry.

6) Tier 1 to 3. Both me and my group hate situations where our chars would be useless, so we like classes that have something to do in every situation.

GoodbyeSoberDay
2010-11-24, 03:32 AM
I don't get the Tier 2 hate. Just because you can't break the game in every possible way doesn't mean you can't contribute in most situations. A T2 out of his element won't contribute as much as a T3 in their element, but a reasonably optimized T2 will in all likelihood be better than the "jack-of-all-trades" type T4 at anything the T4 can do. And I love Arcane Spellsurge on a sorcerer. It smells like victory.

Greenish
2010-11-24, 07:21 AM
I'm a bit late to the party, but my favourites usually fall around tiers 3-4, though only a few t4 classes are interesting enough to go single-classed.

And since GoodbyeSoberDay felt tier 2 doesn't get enough love, here's a shout out to Spirit Shaman!

Timeless Error
2010-11-24, 07:30 AM
Wow, thanks to everyone for the detailed replies!

@JaronK - I haven't really scrutinized the maneuver system, but I guess crusaders are more versatile than I thought.

@LordBlades: Thanks for replying! As for number one, I'm getting the sense that the druid is powerful no matter what, but arcane spellcasters are harder to use in terms of unleashing their godly powers (a guy in my group was also surpsised to hear that clerics were tier one - he said that he played one once that seemed rather useless).

And still, nobody's heard of the Advanced Player's Manual. :smallconfused:

One more question I had that I forgot to mention in my original post:

There's been some discussion about the tier of knights and paladins. JaronK classifies them as tier fives, but someone on these messageboards mentioned he thought they were tier four. Could I hear your opionions on that?

--Timeless Error

Greenish
2010-11-24, 07:44 AM
There's been some discussion about the tier of knights and paladins. JaronK classifies them as tier fives, but someone on these messageboards mentioned he thought they were tier four. Could I hear your opionions on that?Well, as mentioned here, the tiers are less like a stepladder and more like a slope.

Knights have relatively narrow niche (getting beaten by things that beat people) and fulfill it adequately.

Paladins are another sad example on how WotC overestimated the value of full BAB. The spells are decent (especially with SpC), mount can occasionally come in handy, other stuff is pretty minor.

true_shinken
2010-11-24, 07:51 AM
You're not doing Rogues properly, then.

To optimize a Rogue's sneak attack, you needed a few feats, class features, ACFs and magical items. And it still deals less damage than a Barbarian.

Curmudgeon
2010-11-24, 09:05 AM
Lightbringer is a critical fix that helps, but because you only deal half dice in damage it doesn't do nearly enough. +2d6 damage at level 10? +5d6 damage at level 20? It's just not enough That's +2d6+10 sneak attack bonus damage @ level 10, and +5d6+20 @ level 20. Remember, only the dice (not Craven bonus) are halved.

Hiding in combat takes move actions in between every attack. That's not right at all.
Action: Usually none. Normally, you make a Hide check as part of movement, so it doesnít take a separate action. You can also make a Hde check while attacking (or running or charging). No move action is required except for the special Sniping rules. The only gotcha here is needing to acquire Hide in Plain Sight, but there are several solutions to that problem.

And while extra attacks are nice, you only have so many feats (TWF+ITWF+GTWF+IUS+Snap Kick + Weapon Finesse+Craven = all your feats). Which is exactly why I never take the Two-Weapon Fighting feat chain, and save 3 feats which are better spent elsewhere. Also, you buy Improved Unarmed Strike as an item which grants the feat. So that's 4 feats freed up right there.

Snap kicking? No, you need to weapon enchants to actually deal useful damage. Get a Monk's Belt + wand of Greater Mighty Wallop and one charge per day will give 6d6 damage every unarmed strike (before sneak attack), for 50 adventuring days; that's better than the same money spent on +1d6 per +1 cost weapon enhancements. Also weapon enhancements are extras which anyone can buy, which is why I didn't mention them. (Though Rogues can acquire more gp than other characters, so that's helpful in this regard.)

You certainly won't have the feats for anything else like Savvy Rogue. Crippling strike is certainly nice though, and well worth it, but not enough. And if you think it's easy to use gear to attack everything fully, well, that's just not true. Elementals and Oozes are completely immune
They're completely immune to sneak attack damage, yet still end up taking 2 points of STR damage with every hit, thanks to Crippling Strike + Savvy Rogue. You're clearly undervaluing that feat. Even elder air and fire elementals have only 22 STR, so you can see why you'd want to reserve a feat slot for Savvy Rogue; just Hide while attacking and you'll be able to take down one of those things (STR 0 = helpless) solo, if necessary.

With respect, I think your analysis of the Rogue class is inadequate. I regard errors like thinking Hide requires a move action, and sinking half your feats into the TWF line, as rookie mistakes.

Tael
2010-11-24, 09:20 AM
Curmudgeon, you're an amazing rogue optimizer, but not everyone else is. If even really good optimizers like JaronK can make these mistakes, why don't you think other people will? And really, what can a Rogue do that a Factotum can't? That's the biggest problem I find with placing the Rogue in the same tier as the Factotum, the 2nd just seems so much better.

true_shinken
2010-11-24, 09:30 AM
I'd like to ask where Curmudgeon is getting hide in plain sight from. The only one that would actually work so well as to hide between attacks of a full attack without moving is Shadowdancer, which costs crappy feats and 5 skill points into Tumble.
And that's also a reading of the Hide skill that no DM I know would accept.

Saph
2010-11-24, 09:43 AM
Something that a few people have pointed out which bears repeating: The Tier system is not a good measure of power. It is a good measure of potential power.

To say that a Wizard will always be more useful than a Warblade, at all levels, with equivalent optimisation, is simply wrong. I've seen numerous games where melee types dominated over the full casters. Once you start to crank up the Wizard, it has much more growth potential than the Warblade does, due to its versatility, but it's important to remember that there are loads of games out there where that simply doesn't happen.

There's also a big difference between classes which are strong out of the box and classes which need work. Druids and ToB classes are strong out of the box - it's possible to make them weak, but it's really difficult. Wizards have incredible potential power, but require a lot of skill. A well played Wizard is arguably the best class in the game; a badly played Wizard is arguably the worst.

Curmudgeon
2010-11-24, 10:10 AM
I'd like to ask where Curmudgeon is getting hide in plain sight from.
As I said, there are multiple solutions. Shadowdancer is good but expensive; you go that route by buying Mobility as an armor enhancement which grants the feat, and getting Spring Attack as your next feat to improve the return on the investment.

In a Forgotten Realms-specific campaign, their version of the Dark Creature template in Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave (page 152) is Supernatural ─ the equivalent of the Assassin/Shadowdancer ability for +1 LA. In a FR campaign with LA buyoff this would be my top choice.

Another option is the poor HiPS from a Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis. That requires adding concealment, and getting Deeper Darkness cast on your weapon tip will accomplish that. Then you'll need a wand of Ebon Eyes to let you see through the magical darkness and keep it from interfering with your sneak attacks.

You could also opt for the Wilderness Rogue (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantCharacterClasses.htm#rogueVariantWilderness Rogue) variant, though that HiPS comes in rather late for my tastes.

And that's also a reading of the Hide skill that no DM I know would accept. You don't know any DMs who follow the RAW, then.
Itís practically impossible (-20 penalty) to hide while attacking, running or charging. The Hide skill description is poorly organized, but it's all right there to find (just with maybe 3-4 readings required to catch everything).

Keld Denar
2010-11-24, 10:36 AM
Le sigh. Thats not the point. You can build a rogue with infinite potential. I can build a fighter who can 1-shot the tarrasque. Again, that doesn't make the class a higher tier. Thats not the point of the tier system. It takes a lot of things spread out over many books, as you yourself have pointed out, to make a rogue into the versatile, well-rounded combatant that you've presented. The average person who plays a rogue for the first time picking features from the PHB, and maybe CAdventurer, is not going to have the same result. As opposed to the average person who picks up a druid, takes the only druid specific feat in the PHB (Natural Spell), and WSs into a lion or a bear or summons a hippogryph.

You keep arguing the rules and citing specific examples...thats not the point here. The point isn't how good YOU can make a rogue, but the relative level of effort to make a good rogue and the amount of different encounters that an average to well built rogue can handle with the tools he's given.

You keep clinging to Craven and the Lightbringer Penetrating Strike ACF. Those are from Champions of Ruin and the Expedition to Castle Ravenloft respectively. If someone is playing a Core + Completes game, which aren't all that uncommon, they wouldn't have access to either of them. THATS the point here.

Nobody's dissin your favorite class, this is all as objective as possible.

Psyren
2010-11-24, 10:41 AM
You keep clinging to Craven and the Lightbringer Penetrating Strike ACF. Those are from Champions of Ruin and the Expedition to Castle Ravenloft respectively. If someone is playing a Core + Completes game, which aren't all that uncommon, they wouldn't have access to either of them. THATS the point here.

Nobody's dissin your favorite class, this is all as objective as possible.

He seems to almost be taking this personally :smallconfused:

Curmudgeon
2010-11-24, 11:15 AM
Le sigh. Thats not the point. You can build a rogue with infinite potential.
...
You keep arguing the rules and citing specific examples.
So far all I've done is rebut a few claims that I thought weren't well-founded (such as "Rogues ... in combat they are mediocre at best"). And of course to rebut specific claims I gave specific counters. (I also answered a question about the various ways to get Hide in Plain Sight.)

Nobody's dissin your favorite class, this is all as objective as possible.
That's what I believe it should be, which is why I value the importance of getting the facts right.

Please note that I haven't at any time said the Rogue should be moved up to a higher tier. While I obviously can improve the performance of a Rogue, I could much more simply improve the performance of a Factotum by loading up on Font of Inspiration. (Of course, that's so easy that I find the exercise trivial and boring.)

I just hope that people might do a more thorough review of the specifics of particular classes before making pronouncements of which characteristics require them to be in any particular tier. Getting the facts about the various classes right can only help in evaluating their relative capabilities.

Frosty
2010-11-24, 01:57 PM
Le sigh. Thats not the point. You can build a rogue with infinite potential. I can build a fighter who can 1-shot the tarrasque. Again, that doesn't make the class a higher tier. Thats not the point of the tier system. It takes a lot of things spread out over many books, as you yourself have pointed out, to make a rogue into the versatile, well-rounded combatant that you've presented. The average person who plays a rogue for the first time picking features from the PHB, and maybe CAdventurer, is not going to have the same result. As opposed to the average person who picks up a druid, takes the only druid specific feat in the PHB (Natural Spell), and WSs into a lion or a bear or summons a hippogryph.

You keep arguing the rules and citing specific examples...thats not the point here. The point isn't how good YOU can make a rogue, but the relative level of effort to make a good rogue and the amount of different encounters that an average to well built rogue can handle with the tools he's given.

You keep clinging to Craven and the Lightbringer Penetrating Strike ACF. Those are from Champions of Ruin and the Expedition to Castle Ravenloft respectively. If someone is playing a Core + Completes game, which aren't all that uncommon, they wouldn't have access to either of them. THATS the point here.

Nobody's dissin your favorite class, this is all as objective as possible.
Actually, the point of the tier system is NOT to judge how easy it is to be reasonably useful with a class. Like Saph says, it's about potential power, and power comes from options.

Simply put, the Rogue is weak because it has fewer options than higher-tiered classes, assuming approximately equal wealth. A Factotum and a Beguiler have much, MUCH more options than a Rogue.

Jaronk: Where would you rank a Scout who goes the Swift Hunter route? Immunities are almost not a problem thanks to the feat and Favored enemy, but all you do is Move + <attack routine> every round in combat. Out of combat you're about as useful as the Rogue I guess, although I forget if you get UMD or not.

Godskook
2010-11-24, 05:32 PM
Jaronk: Where would you rank a Scout who goes the Swift Hunter route? Immunities are almost not a problem thanks to the feat and Favored enemy, but all you do is Move + <attack routine> every round in combat. Out of combat you're about as useful as the Rogue I guess, although I forget if you get UMD or not.

Not being Jaronk, I know this isn't for me, but:

1.Damage output still isn't significantly different than a rogue. A little better, maybe, but remember, fighters are tier 5, or 4 with dungeoncrasher, and they're damage *EXPERTS*.

2.Swift Hunter doesn't add to the over-all versatility of either base class, just the damage-output(reliability and DPS). Outside of damage, the swift hunter is still just a scout/ranger multiclass, and roughly speaking, should fall into the same tier as any other scout/ranger multiclass.

Tael
2010-11-24, 06:44 PM
Not being Jaronk, I know this isn't for me, but:

1.Damage output still isn't significantly different than a rogue. A little better, maybe, but remember, fighters are tier 5, or 4 with dungeoncrasher, and they're damage *EXPERTS*.

2.Swift Hunter doesn't add to the over-all versatility of either base class, just the damage-output(reliability and DPS). Outside of damage, the swift hunter is still just a scout/ranger multiclass, and roughly speaking, should fall into the same tier as any other scout/ranger multiclass.

Indeed, I'd say high tier 4, but still tier 4.

Pechvarry
2010-11-24, 06:53 PM
Curmudgeon, I feel compelled to point out that your posts on the strengths of Rogue do not belong in this thread. How to optimize a rogue doesn't affect its placement in JaronK's tier system. He put it in tier 4 because after all that work you just did, a Factotum does about all of it out of the box. If you can optimize a Rogue up to tier 3, imagine what you could make a Beguiler do (hi2u, shadowcraft mage).

Makiru
2010-11-24, 06:56 PM
The way I've found that works to lessen the sting of the tier list is to make all the players take four levels in NPC classes before they can take normal class levels. Even after three levels of druid on one character, everybody is still on fairly even footing with regards to solving encounters in my campaign. It was funny to find out that the Aristocrat is kinda strong, at least compared to the Expert.

JaronK
2010-11-24, 07:00 PM
Godskook about sums it up. You've got some handy damage potential in combat (but not that amazing) and some decent skills. It's not Factotum or Beguiler levels, but it's not bad either. Doesn't really change Tier at all.

And yeah, Curmudgeon, your analysis of TWF is flawed. You think Snap Kick's one extra attack, requiring a feat and evidently three items (one for IUS, a Monk's Belt, and a wand requiring successful UMD usage) is a good idea,but TWF gives you one attack too and all it needs is a second weapon (plus it lets you make more ranged attacks with thrown weapons, which Snap Kick doesn't do. You're still spending a bunch of feats to stay relevant and able to even effect lots of enemies, where higher Tier characters don't need to do that. Your over reliance on hard to access abilities (Craven and Lightbringer, both from books most people don't have) indicates that nothing you're talking about would work in most games. And Craven gives you an Achilles heel in that you can't become fear immune. That means no Mind Blank ever. No Hero's Feast. Any enemies with serious fear effects will screw you rather completely. That's why I didn't assume Craven... it's a dangerous feat to take. Compare to Factotums, who don't have to do any of that.

Meanwhile, hiding mid combat... that's what the sniping rules are. They wouldn't be there unless there was a general assumption that you can't just hide while attacking anyway (otherwise why would you ever use them?).

Basically, you're requiring favorable rulings, specific magic item access, access to otherwise hard to find books, and all sorts of other stuff just to do your basic combat job. That's textbook T4. T3s don't have to do that. A Beguiler can take out encounters with Glitterdust using nothing but the core book. No hoping for special items, no need for obscure feats just to do his basic job... he just does it. A Factotum can raise an army of the dead with the same. And if either of those classes start hunting around more obscure books... well, a Beguiler dips Shadowcraft Mage and the game explodes (and Races of Stone isn't NEARLY as obscure) while the Factotum finds the Ghoul Glyph spell, notices Sp abilities take standard actions (see MM and Rules Compendium, the primary sources on this), and just giggles manically for a while.

If you put the same amount of effort and optimization into other skill monkeys as you are with the Rogue, I think you'll see very clearly why Rogues are placed where they are. They're CLEARLY below Beguilers and Factotums. Even more so Artificers and Cloistered Clerics. They're clearly above CA Ninjas and Experts. Scout... it's kinda debatable.

JaronK

Timeless Error
2010-11-24, 07:05 PM
Well, as mentioned here, the tiers are less like a stepladder and more like a slope.

Knights have relatively narrow niche (getting beaten by things that beat people) and fulfill it adequately.

Paladins are another sad example on how WotC overestimated the value of full BAB. The spells are decent (especially with SpC), mount can occasionally come in handy, other stuff is pretty minor.

OK, to clarify, if I correctly understood your simile, you're saying that instead of there being clear power gaps between each tier (like the space between rungs on a ladder), there is more of a gradual ascension. There are high and low members of each tier, and the line is sometimes hard to draw. That's good to keep in mind.

As to the rest of your post, you seem to be describing a tier five with the knight (capable of doing only one thing, and that only to a moderate degree of competence), and a tier four with the paladin (capable of doing several things with a decent degree of competence).


The way I've found that works to lessen the sting of the tier list is to make all the players take four levels in NPC classes before they can take normal class levels. Even after three levels of druid on one character, everybody is still on fairly even footing with regards to solving encounters in my campaign. It was funny to find out that the Aristocrat is kinda strong, at least compared to the Expert.

Huh, that's interesting. I'll keep that in mind for my next campaign. That would also produce interesting background stories.

--Timeless Error

JaronK
2010-11-24, 07:12 PM
It's true that it's far more of a continuum than the blockiness of the tier system seems to indicate. Fighters are high in tier 5. Duskblades and Hexblades are a bit low in their tiers. CW Samurai is obviously much better than Warrior, yet they're both in T6.

So there's definitely a flow to it. It's just that which one is specifically better than the other is too dependent on exact campaigns, and not relevant to the point of the system, which is to figure out which classes can play together without balance issues. If it's too close to call anyway (like Scout vs Rogue, or Factotum vs Beguiler) then it doesn't matter... they're clearly balanced enough. So I didn't bother making a running list of least to most powerful, and instead put them in chunks of "all these are pretty balanced." Plus, since it's really only a problem if there's a huge difference, it's okay for Fighters to be high in T5 anyway... they only have problems when playing with T3s and up.

JaronK

Timeless Error
2010-11-24, 07:15 PM
A new question for everybody: I'm thinking of trying to homebrew a tier four ToB martial adept (redundancy added for clarification). Is this possible? Or is a ToB class defined automatically as a tier three by it's use of maneuvers?

--Timeless Error

Saph
2010-11-24, 07:21 PM
The tiers measure potential power, and the potential power of a maneuver-using class comes from its maneuvers. So it depends on how good the class maneuvers are and what access it has to them.

Psyren
2010-11-24, 07:22 PM
A new question for everybody: I'm thinking of trying to homebrew a tier four ToB martial adept (redundancy added for clarification). Is this possible? Or is a ToB class defined automatically as a tier three by it's use of maneuvers?

--Timeless Error

Why would you aim for Tier 4? :smallconfused:

Anyway, if all you gave it were maneuvers that did extra damage with no utility (no shifting, healing, threatening additional attacks etc.) then it would probably be T4. (Even Desert Wind and Tiger Claw have utility.)

You could also take the Divine Mind/Soulborn approach - give it maneuvers, but only a handful, and delay access. Tack on some largely irrelevant class features and alignment restrictions and you're done.

Timeless Error
2010-11-24, 07:26 PM
Why would you aim for Tier 4? :smallconfused:

Anyway, if all you gave it were maneuvers that did extra damage with no utility (no shifting, healing, threatening additional attacks etc.) then it would probably be T4. (Even Desert Wind and Tiger Claw have utility.)

Well, JaronK himself said that a lot of people prefer tier four over tier three. I, personally, am a little scared of anything higher than tier four, as I'm a completely new DM (and I'm fairly new to D&D in general) and I'm worried that those classes would be hard to handle. In tier four, classes are somewhat predictable and you have a lot more control than you would with a group of tier threes.

In addition, I originally was allowing both tier threes and tier fours in my campaign, but the entire party ended up choosing 100% tier four classes.

In response to "damage with no utility," can you recommend a discipline for me? Or would I have to homebrew one myself?

--Timeless Error

Tael
2010-11-24, 07:29 PM
To get T4 ToB, just kill the Chassis. D10 HD, Warblade maneuver progression with SS recovery, 3/4 BAB and 4+ int.

Timeless Error
2010-11-24, 07:39 PM
To get T4 ToB, just kill the Chassis. D10 HD, Slightly better than warblade maneuver progression with SS recovery, 3/4 BAB and 4+ int.

SS recovery? Is this the swift action recovery of the warblade, or something else that I am unaware of?

Also, which disciplines would you give it access to? Would you allow them to choose, say, any four?

--Timeless Error

Psyren
2010-11-24, 07:39 PM
SS recovery?

I think he means SwordSage Recovery (mechanic.)

Every discipline has utility maneuvers, so you would have to ban those individually. Even the damage-focused ones (that I mentioned previously) have some neat tricks.

Defiant
2010-11-24, 07:39 PM
JaronK:

I think you missed this.


So far all I've done is rebut a few claims that I thought weren't well-founded (such as "Rogues ... in combat they are mediocre at best"). And of course to rebut specific claims I gave specific counters. (I also answered a question about the various ways to get Hide in Plain Sight.)

That's what I believe it should be, which is why I value the importance of getting the facts right.

Please note that I haven't at any time said the Rogue should be moved up to a higher tier. While I obviously can improve the performance of a Rogue, I could much more simply improve the performance of a Factotum by loading up on Font of Inspiration. (Of course, that's so easy that I find the exercise trivial and boring.)

I just hope that people might do a more thorough review of the specifics of particular classes before making pronouncements of which characteristics require them to be in any particular tier. Getting the facts about the various classes right can only help in evaluating their relative capabilities.

Curmudgeon was never arguing that Rogues should be a higher tier. He was simply outlining their damage potential.

Psyren
2010-11-24, 07:41 PM
Curmudgeon was never arguing that Rogues should be a higher tier. He was simply outlining their damage potential.

Which is a dandy observation but pretty irrelevant in a tier thread.

Defiant
2010-11-24, 07:42 PM
Which is a dandy observation but pretty irrelevant in a tier thread.

Again, read the post. He was rebutting specific claims.

Psyren
2010-11-24, 07:44 PM
Again, read the post. He was rebutting specific claims.

...which is still irrelevant in a...

...you know what, forget it.

Defiant
2010-11-24, 07:46 PM
...which is still irrelevant in a...

...you know what, forget it.

I disagree. If someone's throwing around claims like "Rogue damage output is pitiful", people might actually believe it. I feel it's completely fine to establish the real facts around the situation.

All independent of whatever the topic is.

JaronK
2010-11-24, 07:57 PM
JaronK:

I think you missed this.

Curmudgeon was never arguing that Rogues should be a higher tier. He was simply outlining their damage potential.

Perhaps you're right. I still stand by the statement that TWF is a better idea than Snap Kick for a Rogue though! I also stand by the statement that Rogues do have difficulty doing significant damage in most campaigns... which I believe Curmudgeon was trying to refute, but his overreliance on hard to get books and specific gear means his arguments don't really hold water when being applied to most Rogues. After all, most damage dealer classes don't have to rely on such things. Who decided you need a high UMD score and some tricky rulings just to be able to use your main class feature on plants? Or that it just doesn't work on Elementals? How lame is that? Don't even get me started on the Darkstalker feat tax, though that applies to all skillmonkeys.

Some rogues in some campaigns can get their damage output to decent levels. But heck, you could do it better by just ignoring Craven and Lightbringer and all that, and just using Shock Trooper+Spirited Charge. After all, an Orc Rogue 20 takes Power Attack, Improved Bull Rush, Shock Trooper, Mounted Combat, Ride By Attack, Spirited Charge, Headlong Rush, Weapon Proficiency: Lance, using a Valorous Lance... well, he does a respectable amount of damage. +30 damage from Power Attack alone, multiplied by 5 (Spirited Charge + Lance + Valorous + Headlong Rush) to 150. Get pounce somehow (a Barbarian 1 dip?), and yay, he does far more damage than a standard Rogue, using virtually no Rogue class features. I'm not buying this whole Rogues do lots of damage argument.

JaronK

Defiant
2010-11-24, 08:02 PM
I think not being able to use your main class features on a few types of creatures is fine. It's not a deal-breaker. (There are too many of those types of creatures, but a few can be mitigated)

Rogues do damage through sneak attack, and maximizing that damage is done through maximizing the number of attacks you get (while, of course, getting the sneak in). I think it's perfectly possible to get your attack number fairly high, and deal a respectable amount of damage.

Pechvarry
2010-11-24, 08:03 PM
I'm NOT a fan of killing the chassis and limiting maneuvers to damage-only for a t4 ToB. Better Approach: use the classes as-is, but only let players choose a single discipline. Warblades have to choose Iron Heart, Diamond Mind, Stone Dragon, Tiger Claw, or White Raven. Crusaders, same deal: Stone Dragon, White Raven, or Devoted Spirit. For Swordsages, I'd have them choose 2 of their normally accessible schools.

This hurts versatility and output, makes them more predictable, but still leaves them with a lot of options. More importantly, the damage-only route completely kills the fun of ToB.

--for reference, my group tends towards tier 4. You don't need to kill joy to play at this level.

Timeless Error
2010-11-24, 08:06 PM
I'm NOT a fan of killing the chassis and limiting maneuvers to damage-only for a t4 ToB. Better Approach: use the classes as-is, but only let players choose a single discipline. Warblades have to choose Iron Heart, Diamond Mind, Stone Dragon, Tiger Claw, or White Raven. Crusaders, same deal: Stone Dragon, White Raven, or Devoted Spirit. For Swordsages, I'd have them choose 2 of their normally accessible schools.

This hurts versatility and output, makes them more predictable, but still leaves them with a lot of options. More importantly, the damage-only route completely kills the fun of ToB.

--for reference, my group tends towards tier 4. You don't need to kill joy to play at this level.

Thanks! That's probably a better route to go (no offense to Tael).

And @Psyren: Thanks for clarifying on the abbreviation. Can't believe I didn't realize that!

--Timeless Error

Gavinfoxx
2010-11-24, 09:32 PM
If you are thinking of doing the "take an npc class till level 5", remember that Adept (and two variants! One even gets a domain!) and Magewright are NPC classes! Those get SPELLS!

Also, Expert can *really* be quite optimized... see this thread, about halfway down the page:

http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=9602.60

Curmudgeon
2010-11-25, 12:35 AM
And yeah, Curmudgeon, your analysis of TWF is flawed. You think Snap Kick's one extra attack, requiring a feat and evidently three items (one for IUS, a Monk's Belt, and a wand requiring successful UMD usage) is a good idea,but TWF gives you one attack too and all it needs is a second weapon (plus it lets you make more ranged attacks with thrown weapons, which Snap Kick doesn't do.
The extra items (Monk's Belt and Greater Mighty Wallop wand) are there specifically to address your claim that weapon enhancements are the right way for a Rogue to increase damage; I just showed a better optimization. (The only real prerequisite is a cheap (1,310 gp) item to grant Improved Unarmed Strike.) The Rogue's main damage comes from sneak attack, so those are optional add-ons. And no, my analysis of the Two-Weapon Fighting feat line isn't flawed. All extra attacks from this line require the full attack action, which you can't do all the time either mechanically (i.e., when you have to use a move action) or because of the risk of full counterattacks. Snap Kick adds an extra attack whenever you make a melee attack. It'll work when you were forced to move to a new opponent; it'll work with a full attack; it'll also always work with an AoO. It's not the right choice if you're optimizing for ranged combat, but then neither is Two-Weapon Fighting since that will require an additional expenditure for Quick Draw.

Meanwhile, hiding mid combat... that's what the sniping rules are. They wouldn't be there unless there was a general assumption that you can't just hide while attacking anyway (otherwise why would you ever use them?).
Use of Hide is normally dependent on (1) cover/concealment; and (2) not being observed. The Sniping rule provides an extra way to use Hide after your ranged attacks despite being observed, but at the expense of an extra move action. However, Hide in Plain Sight can satisfy these requirements and allow you to make Hide checks with (not after) whatever actions the rules permit. Those actions are:
moving Ĺ speed or less: no penalty
moving up to full speed: -5 penalty
moving after Bluff check: -10 penalty
attacking: -20 penalty
running: -20 penalty
charging: -20 penalty


Basically, you're requiring favorable rulings
Not ever; just the RAW. The fact that there's a Sniping option does not change the fact that the rules say you can Hide while attacking, running, or charging ─ if you can both satisfy the skill requirements and beat your opponent's Spot check despite the severe penalties. (Of course, making difficult skill checks is what the Rogue class was designed to do.) There's no favoritism required to just read what's there in the skill description.

As for Craven, it works like any other feat. If you partake of a Heroes' Feast you'll temporarily lose Craven's benefit. That's going to come up less often than not being able to make a full attack, and thus gaining no benefit from Two-Weapon Fighting, will come up.

Note again (please) that I'm not disputing the location of the Rogue in your tier system, but I am trying to refute misinformation about how the class works. While your justifications for this placement are somewhat off, I've never claimed that making an effective Rogue character was easy. The class's placement in the tiers can be justified purely by the amount of analysis and number of books required to optimize a Rogue.

olentu
2010-11-25, 01:40 AM
Edit: Nevermind I was going to jump into the discussion about some of the incorrectness by the RAW that was being presented by various people in here but I would probably derail the thread more then it already is so I am just going to sit it out for now.