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WarKitty
2010-11-24, 07:26 PM
So this is a question that has come up repeatedly: how do the different classes react to optimization? Well, why not build a tier system for them? I'm going to start with a three-step system. Since I'm not the best optimizer here, I'm asking for input on what classes you would put where; classes will get put in after getting 2-4 opinions (depending on who offers the opinion and how consistent they are).


Rank 1: Little to no optimization. Reaches close to full potential with obvious choices. Mistakes are unlikely to seriously impact playability.
Example class: Druid

Rank 2: Some optimization. Optimized characters are significantly better than non-optimized, but non-optimized characters are still decent in comparison. Mistakes hurt but are not huge.
Example class: Rogue

Rank 3: Significant optimization. Wild difference between optimized and non-optimized characters. Build mistakes are near-fatal.
Example class: Fighter

Yorrin
2010-11-24, 07:35 PM
I like where you're going... but avoid the word "tier" when describing it. That word will cause more confusion and anger than it is worth.

I'll type something up in a second with my first take at such a ranking, though.

Saph
2010-11-24, 07:39 PM
I'd put all three ToB classes in at rank 1. They're very hard to screw up.

Sorcerer and Wizard go at rank 3. They're fantastic in the hands of a skilled player and abysmal in the hands of a bad one. I remember one campaign where we had both in the same party!

I'd put Fighter at rank 2. It's hard to completely mess up a full-BAB class, since they can always be at least kind-of-okay simply by putting your highest score in Strength and taking a two-handed weapon.

Ernir
2010-11-24, 07:47 PM
I'd suggest finding a different name than "tiers", if this really takes off, we don't want the confusion...

Anyway. Classes with a small optimization range (Tier 1):
Druid, All the ToB classes, Dragonfire Adept, Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, Duskblade, Dragon Shaman, Soulborn, Healer (always sucking equally qualifies, right?).

Middle of the road (Tier 2):
Totemist, Psion, Psychic Warrior, Binder, Warlock, Scout, Spellthief, Rogue, Paladin, Cleric.

Classes with a big optimization range (Tier 3):
Sorcerer, Archivist, Wizard, Bard, Monk, Factotum (ever seen a poorly built Factotum? It SUCKS.), Incarnate, Barbarian, Warmage, Ranger, Hexblade, Marshal, Fighter, Favored Soul, Wilder, Ninja (CA), Samurai (CW), Swashbuckler, Knight, Truenamer.

Yorrin
2010-11-24, 07:48 PM
I'd put all three ToB classes in at rank 1. They're very hard to screw up.

Sorcerer and Wizard go at rank 3. They're fantastic in the hands of a skilled player and abysmal in the hands of a bad one. I remember one campaign where we had both in the same party!

I'd put Fighter at rank 2. It's hard to completely mess up a full-BAB class, since they can always be at least kind-of-okay simply by putting your highest score in Strength and taking a two-handed weapon.

I think you and I are thinking at very different levels/definitions of optimization. A Fighter with Greater Weapon Specialization and Power Attack who swings his big stick around is VASTLY different from a Dungeoncrasher Fighter with Improved Bull Rush, Improved Trip, Knock Down, Knockback, etc.

Likewise, a Sorcerer is really easy to screw up- if you don't know what the good spells are you can mess yourself up pretty bad (ie- picking three damage spells at every level). But a Wizard can always spend a little money and have a whole new spellbook instantly, and is thus much harder to seriously screw up.

WarKitty
2010-11-24, 07:50 PM
Wizard should probably be split depending on how strictly your DM enforces the payment for new spells and how hard they are to find.

Saph
2010-11-24, 07:51 PM
I think you and I are thinking at very different levels/definitions of optimization. A Fighter with Greater Weapon Specialization and Power Attack who swings his big stick around is VASTLY different from a Dungeoncrasher Fighter with Improved Bull Rush, Improved Trip, Knock Down, Knockback, etc.

You've got a point. I'd still argue for rank 2, though, since I generally find a badly played Fighter is more useful than a badly played Sorc/Wizard.


Likewise, a Sorcerer is really easy to screw up- if you don't know what the good spells are you can mess yourself up pretty bad (ie- picking three damage spells at every level). But a Wizard can always spend a little money and have a whole new spellbook instantly, and is thus much harder to seriously screw up.

Here I don't agree. I've seen more terribly played Wizards than I care to remember. The ability to re-pick your spell selection isn't much use if you don't know which spells are the good ones.

JeminiZero
2010-11-24, 07:53 PM
I would argue that all the tier 1/2 fullcasting classes (even Druids) would Rank 3, (or 2 at the very least, in the case of Druids), on the Optimization scale, for 1 reason: Spell Selection (and indirectly, the feat selection to modify their spell selection).

The spell choice difference between an Ur-optimizer and that guy who closes his eyes, opens the PHB to a random page and puts his finger down, can spell a massive world of difference. While its true that an utterly unoptimized Druid is reasonably strong (Wild Shape and Animal Companion), if the guy has any idea about what hes doing, soon Venomfire Fleshrakers, Control Weather and various other shenanigans start to appear.

WarKitty
2010-11-24, 07:56 PM
Do I need to add more rankings? I can expand it to a 5-rank system if needed.

Saph
2010-11-24, 07:58 PM
I would argue that all the tier 1/2 fullcasting classes (even Druids) would Rank 3, (or 2 at the very least, in the case of Druids), on the Optimization scale, for 1 reason: Spell Selection (and indirectly, the feat selection to modify their spell selection).

The spell choice difference between an Ur-optimizer and that guy who closes his eyes, opens the PHB to a random page and puts his finger down, can spell a massive world of difference.

Remember though that Druids can spontaneously convert any spell into a Summon Nature's Ally. It's pretty hard to mess up your spell selection when every spell doubles as "make an extra fighter".

Prime32
2010-11-24, 08:01 PM
I'd put Fighter at rank 2. It's hard to completely mess up a full-BAB class, since they can always be at least kind-of-okay simply by putting your highest score in Strength and taking a two-handed weapon.IIRC the playtest fighter's feats were
Exotic Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword), Weapon Focus (bastard sword), Weapon Specialisation (bastard sword), Weapon Focus (longbow), Weapon Specialisation (longbow), Toughness

:eek:
http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/regdar/regdar_full.jpg

Yorrin
2010-11-24, 08:01 PM
The ability to re-pick your spell selection isn't much use if you don't know which spells are the good ones.

I'll respectfully disagree and we'll leave it at that.

Given that such is my thinking, however, here are my categories:

Nearly Impossible To Optimize
aristocrat
commoner
noble
warrior
truenamer
eidolon
hexblade
samurai

Hard to Optimize
marshal
ninja
rogue
soulknife
swashbuckler
dragon shaman
knight

Moderate Optimization Possible
artificer
bard
favored soul
healer
psion
psychic warrior
shaman
shugenja
sohei
sorcerer
spellthief
warlock
wu jen
dread necromancer
shadowcaster
ardent
divine mind
lurk
beguiler
duskblade
dragonfire adept
monk
paladin
ranger
scout
expert
factotum

Very Optimizable
barbarian
fighter
crusader
swordsage
warblade

With Proper Knowledge Can Optimize Mid-Game
adept
cleric
druid
eidoloncer
mystic
wizard
archivist
incarnate
soulborn
totemist
binder
erudite (variant psion)


Let the criticism begin :smalltongue:

EDIT: I should probably clarify my assumption that this is based on "I completely screwed up my build for the first several levels, so how screwed am I?"

Saph
2010-11-24, 08:02 PM
IIRC the playtest fighter's feats were
Exotic Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword), Weapon Focus (bastard sword), Weapon Specialisation (bastard sword), Weapon Focus (longbow), Weapon Specialisation (longbow), Toughness

:smallsigh:

You do wonder sometimes . . .

WarKitty
2010-11-24, 08:02 PM
Just as an aside: I'm not considering anything that can change by day for free to be included in the ranking system. Mostly, this means prepared casters such as the cleric or druid that have access to all spells should be considered as using good spells at all times.

Basically, if you got handed a completely unoptimized character with no retraining allowed, how hard would it be to get that character to work?

molten_dragon
2010-11-24, 08:20 PM
I like this idea. Here's my thoughts on the core classes.

Babarian: Rank 2. There's a decent amount of optimization potential there (spirit lion totem anyone?) but they're hard to completely screw up.

Bard: I'm not too familiar with bards, but I would go for rank 3, simply due to the fact that bad spell choices are permanent.

Cleric: Rank 2. There's some definite potential for optimization with a cleric, but the most important part of the class (spells) is hard to screw up really badly, since you can change them every day.

Druid: Rank 2. Not taking natural spell, poor spell selection, poor selection of forms for wild shape, and a poor choice of animal companion can all reduce a druid's power significantly. Some of those problems can be easily fixed, but others aren't quite so simple. There's also quite a bit of room to optimize above a standard core druid as well. Greenbound summoning, rashemi elemental summoning, dragon wild shape, and several other excellent feats offer a druid a lot of potential beyond core.

Fighter: Rank 3. The differences between a well-optimized fighter and a poorly optimized one are vast.

Monk: Hard to say honestly. Probably tier 2. It's harder to judge when it's the difference between bad and worse rather than good and bad.

Paladin: Rank 2. For similar reasons to the barbarian.

Ranger: Rank 2. Ditto the barbarian and paladin.

Rogue: Rank 2. There's optimization potential, but they're hard to completely screw up.

Sorcerer: Rank 3. Poor spell choices are nearly permanent, and since they're all you get, poor choices are crippling.

Wizard: Rank 2. Poor spell choices are just as crippling as for a sorcerer, but since wizards can always write new spells to their spellbook, poor choices can be fixed much easier.

Lans
2010-11-26, 07:33 PM
I think two systems might be appropriate here.
One system to rank the classes out of how hard it is to get full potential

Another to rank the difficulty in fixing a crap build.

JaronK
2010-11-26, 07:40 PM
I think two systems might be appropriate here.
One system to rank the classes out of how hard it is to get full potential

Another to rank the difficulty in fixing a crap build.

This is worth considering. Druids are almost impossible to mess up (you get an Animal Companion that's solid no matter what) but you actually have to work a bit to make them really good (like, read through their spells, and actually search for decent Wild Shape forms).

Likewise, Rogues can be hard to totally mess up (just put your skill points in the skills you plan to use) but you actually have to know what you're doing to avoid being worthless in a fight.

Fighters, meanwhile, are really easy to make completely worthless. So are Wizards evidently, but they can rocket to the top just as easily as Druids (hey, I just read this spell called Glitterdust...).

JaronK

Lans
2010-11-26, 07:56 PM
I figure things like clerics, druids, incarnates, binders can get there game on after 24 hours IG and a trip to optimization land.
Wizards needs to gain a level or two and/or find a library.
Sorcerer, favored soul, shadow caster may need several levels
Truenamer needs Energy Drain or magic mart, and likely several levels and splat books, and multiclassing, and maybe house rules.
Fighter is SOL out side of retraining

The list casters can't really be screwed up, and are pretty resistant to change.

Pechvarry
2010-11-26, 08:09 PM
I don't think "how hard to salvage a terrible character" is really a worthy enough criteria. However, "how good can you make it" vs "how easy is it to make a useless one in the first place?" is quite relevant.

On the topic of casters: even when clerics are preparing cure spells and the wizards are blasty, they're still easily seeing invisibility and fly on their lists which say "no" to melee.

JaronK
2010-11-26, 08:14 PM
The important thing to remember here is that the initial 3.5 and 3.0 playtesters thought core was balanced... and we've just shown what the Fighter was. In other words, it's quite possible to mess up all the classes to make them just as bad as that Fighter... since that's exactly what the Playtesters did. Interestingly, this means it's hard to mess up the Monk, since even the Playtesters made a pretty average Monk. But evidently it's quite possible to make a Druid as bad as that Fighter (IIRC the playtest Druid that we see in the PHB has Weapon Focus: Scimitar, because Wild Shape wasn't used in combat).

So really all classes in core can be made to suck as much as that Fighter.

JaronK

Prime32
2010-11-26, 08:22 PM
The important thing to remember here is that the initial 3.5 and 3.0 playtesters thought core was balanced... and we've just shown what the Fighter was. In other words, it's quite possible to mess up all the classes to make them just as bad as that Fighter... since that's exactly what the Playtesters did. Interestingly, this means it's hard to mess up the Monk, since even the Playtesters made a pretty average Monk. But evidently it's quite possible to make a Druid as bad as that Fighter (IIRC the playtest Druid that we see in the PHB has Weapon Focus: Scimitar, because Wild Shape wasn't used in combat).

So really all classes in core can be made to suck as much as that Fighter.

JaronKI recall stories of wizards with 8 Str who ran into melee wielding scimitars one-handed and never cast spells...

FMArthur
2010-11-26, 08:27 PM
Druids are not anywhere close to being impossible to fail at playing, which is pretty much what the highest ranking entails, isn't it? You say Wild Shape and Animal Companion set the bear minimum power level pretty high? I say you've never seen a Druid who likes cute little critters and never gives any thought to taking the big burly animals. That is, by the way, a perfectly reasonable and normal fantasy archetype that players can and will try to fulfil, either not knowing or not caring how useless it makes them. "All animals of the forest are your friends" is basically the standard Druid in fiction, not a mutant bear army on a rampage.

WarKitty
2010-11-26, 08:39 PM
The important thing to remember here is that the initial 3.5 and 3.0 playtesters thought core was balanced... and we've just shown what the Fighter was. In other words, it's quite possible to mess up all the classes to make them just as bad as that Fighter... since that's exactly what the Playtesters did. Interestingly, this means it's hard to mess up the Monk, since even the Playtesters made a pretty average Monk. But evidently it's quite possible to make a Druid as bad as that Fighter (IIRC the playtest Druid that we see in the PHB has Weapon Focus: Scimitar, because Wild Shape wasn't used in combat).

So really all classes in core can be made to suck as much as that Fighter.

JaronK

Point taken. I'm going to say low optimization level is probably someone who looked through the books and didn't do anything absolutely stupid (like not wearing armor on a fighter, for example, or trying for weapon feats on a wizard) but didn't really make much attempt to optimize either.


Druids are not anywhere close to being impossible to fail at playing, which is pretty much what the highest ranking entails, isn't it? You say Wild Shape and Animal Companion set the bear minimum power level pretty high? I say you've never seen a Druid who likes cute little critters and never gives any thought to taking the big burly animals. That is, by the way, a perfectly reasonable and normal fantasy archetype that players can and will try to fulfil, either not knowing or not caring how useless it makes them. "All animals of the forest are your friends" is basically the standard Druid in fiction, not a mutant bear army on a rampage.

Wild shape and Animal Companion are being discounted because they are easy to change, not because you can't make them suck. If I go into a higher-op game and pick a poor wild shape form and end up not doing anything, I can go back and re-do it the next day.

If anyone has better ideas on a standard I'm open to them, btw. Mostly I wanted to measure the difference between, say, picking bad spells on a cleric and picking bad spells on a sorcerer.

Zaq
2010-11-26, 09:03 PM
Out of curiosity, what's the source for these playtest fighters with bastard swords and druids with WF: Scimitar? I'd be quite interested in seeing some of those, if they're around anywhere.

Pechvarry
2010-11-26, 09:19 PM
Now we're getting into even more problems:

How easy is it to build a subpar character of this class?
vs
How easy is it to play a character of this class so poorly it's terrible?

A druid could do nothing but summon kittens, and that's a bit more realistic than an 8-str melee wizard (the latter type definitely exists, but that's a player thing, not a class thing). But it's easier for a Wizard to realize flying+invisible = untouched than it is for a Druid to crack open a couple Monster Manuals and actually compare combat stats of different potential animal forms.

I feel like the Druid playtesting is an example of playing the class idiotically: they were silly to assume we wouldn't turn into BEARS.

On the other hand, changing into a bird to fly through a window, then into a mouse to creep under the door, is a perfect example of the poorly-played Druid completely stealing the Rogue's show. They're still obsoleting other roles, like a true tier 1.

Anyway, I DON'T think their playtest conclusively shows a PHB-only fighter to be as potent as a PHB-only Druid. Maybe in 3rd edition (though unlikely), but definitely not in 3.5

Amphetryon
2010-11-26, 09:59 PM
Nitpicking, and probably falling into the "I like them so I overvalue them" paradigm, but I think Hexblades are hard to optimize, not nearly impossible. They need the Dark Companion variant, IMO, but they are reasonably good as debuffing melee or ranged full BAB types.

Fiery Diamond
2010-11-26, 10:05 PM
Point taken. I'm going to say low optimization level is probably someone who looked through the books and didn't do anything absolutely stupid (like not wearing armor on a fighter, for example, or trying for weapon feats on a wizard) but didn't really make much attempt to optimize either.



Wild shape and Animal Companion are being discounted because they are easy to change, not because you can't make them suck. If I go into a higher-op game and pick a poor wild shape form and end up not doing anything, I can go back and re-do it the next day.

If anyone has better ideas on a standard I'm open to them, btw. Mostly I wanted to measure the difference between, say, picking bad spells on a cleric and picking bad spells on a sorcerer.

I think this means that we have multiple different variables that should be considered, perhaps splitting this ranking into multiple rankings. Basically, "easy to change" doesn't mean it should be discounted when determining optimization range, but it does mean that it should be discounted when determining how hard it is to permanently screw up a character, which are two different things.

If I have a player who wants to be a druid with a hawk animal companion, who uses wildshape to go hang with the animals and only uses communication-oriented spells, then this is poorly optimized. With regards to optimization range, you have to consider this character, because "But he can change it!" doesn't matter if that's the character he wants to play. The availability of change only matters if the player is more concerned with being competent in multiple situations (such as combat) than with keeping his character intact - and he might not be. And it isn't bad gaming if he doesn't want to change it.

WarKitty
2010-11-26, 10:12 PM
Well, here's the primary idea I had here:

Many of us run reasonably optimized groups. Now, suppose we want to induct a new player. Someone who's really never played D&D before and doesn't know what optimization is. What class do you give them?

Conversely, suppose you want to introduce an optimizer into a non-optimized group. If you're like me or one of the other high-optimizer people, there's a little twinge when choosing a less than optimal selection. If I want to optimize to my heart's content, what do I pick?

It might be best to steal the model of the PrC tier system here. A non-optimized sorc can drop two or three tiers easily. An optimized fighter can go up one. An optimized adept can probably go up two or three.

JaronK
2010-11-26, 10:38 PM
Many of us run reasonably optimized groups. Now, suppose we want to induct a new player. Someone who's really never played D&D before and doesn't know what optimization is. What class do you give them?

Crusader. Seriously, they can't go wrong. See, even a Druid is easy to mess up, because you might care about your animal companion and thus see it as horribly wrong to put it in danger by putting it in combat. And you might not realize Wild Shape is for fighting in combat, since you'd lose your weapons to do that. Yes, I've seen both of these.

But Crusader? You pick 5 maneuvers, and you have 6 total choices, at level 1. Go ahead, pick randomly if you want (though note that two of the maneuvers are the same, and one of them does something about AoOs that new players often don't understand, so one of those three is probably what you don't take). You know you're supposed to hit things in melee. Go hit them. Hey look, you have your choice of three random maneuvers. Pick one, and hit them with it. Neat. It's REALLY tough to go wrong, and even on new players I've never seen them struggle with a Crusader.


Conversely, suppose you want to introduce an optimizer into a non-optimized group. If you're like me or one of the other high-optimizer people, there's a little twinge when choosing a less than optimal selection. If I want to optimize to my heart's content, what do I pick?

Commoner. I've done it. It was overpowered. Sorry, at the end of the day, magic items and feats can get you REALLY powerful regardless of class (for the record, Orc Commoner with Headlong Rush, Spirited Charge, Shock Trooper, and the prerequisites. Skillful Valorous Lance. A really nice Warbeast mount. Maxed out Ride and Handle Animal. A bunch of items to make him more likely to hit).

JaronK

WarKitty
2010-11-26, 11:02 PM
For completeness should probably figure out how to handle magic item use. UMD can go a long way towards rescuing a character, but it's not the same as the raw power of the class.

And ok, you win on the commoner. Still, it's a decent idea in principle despite needing some working out.

Pechvarry
2010-11-26, 11:05 PM
Commoner. I've done it. It was overpowered. Sorry, at the end of the day, magic items and feats can get you REALLY powerful regardless of class (for the record, Orc Commoner with Headlong Rush, Spirited Charge, Shock Trooper, and the prerequisites. Skillful Valorous Lance. A really nice Warbeast mount. Maxed out Ride and Handle Animal. A bunch of items to make him more likely to hit).

What this proves is there are some optimization choices that work as long as you keep getting HD and WBL. It really doesn't show that commoner has a wide margin of optimization, for example. Just because someone decides they want to optimize in a low tier 4 game doesn't mean they need to be capable of 1-shotting balors or the like. Isn't just having some good synergy between class level, feat and gear selection, and skills good enough to be considered optimizing?


For completeness should probably figure out how to handle magic item use. UMD can go a long way towards rescuing a character, but it's not the same as the raw power of the class.

Same deal. While some classes get a natural advantage at using UMD, it's not much greater than the advantage a barbarian's greater STR, BAB, and HD has over the commoner charger. A commoner can grab that feat to use wands as a sor/wiz, they can stock up on feats to up their UMD, etc. And in doing so, they can throw WBL around, gil toss style, to instantly win encounters better than a standard Fighter.

This is one of my problems with assessments of Rogue's power: a Fighter could feasibly do much the same thing. Classes should not be given a lot of weight for access to UMD.

JaronK
2010-11-27, 01:26 AM
What this proves is there are some optimization choices that work as long as you keep getting HD and WBL. It really doesn't show that commoner has a wide margin of optimization, for example. Just because someone decides they want to optimize in a low tier 4 game doesn't mean they need to be capable of 1-shotting balors or the like. Isn't just having some good synergy between class level, feat and gear selection, and skills good enough to be considered optimizing?

Sure, but the direct question was whether there was a class such that you could optimize to your hearts' content and as long as you stuck to that class you wouldn't break a game with non optimizers. The answer is that you can't do that, class alone won't restrict you that much when there are other methods.

You have to have some self control with the optimization, even if you start from Commoner.

JaronK

Coidzor
2010-11-27, 02:47 AM
This is one of my problems with assessments of Rogue's power: a Fighter could feasibly do much the same thing. Classes should not be given a lot of weight for access to UMD.

Arcane Schooling is a first level regional feat that obviates the need for UMD in regards to a single spellcasting class's wands and other spell-trigger items. So any character would have to think well in advance about wanting to use wands specifically to have that ability. Or dip the relevant caster class. Just because it can be obviated does not mean it's not a useful component of a class's repertoire to have it as a class skill. Even a Thug Fighter would be hard pressed to make for the lack of class skills, though lacking class skills is more of a weakness than having class skills is a strength.

dumb fighter tricks eat up a lot of feats, so there's only so many feats that the fighter could devote to buffing UMD before he's hurting his fighteriness by attempting to ape the rogue or factotum. Who themselves are aping casters. So aping apes.

grimbold
2010-11-27, 08:47 AM
this is a good idea
however wizards/sorcerers bother me in this system.
you can not really make them work. They are good for a newbie and godlike for a veteran
you may need a special alternate rank for them
otherwise very good idea

true_shinken
2010-11-27, 02:54 PM
Given that such is my thinking, however, here are my categories:

Nearly Impossible To Optimize
aristocrat
commoner
noble
warrior
truenamer
eidolon
hexblade
samurai
I'll assume you mean CW Samurai here. He has a lot of room for optimization - one out of CW sucks a lot, but coupled with demoralize optimization and Magic of Incarnum, it becomes a lot better. It still sucks, but a lot less.
Hexblade is actually pretty good if you focus on the familiar and you have a lot of room to optimize.
Truenamer is the worst offender here. A non-optimized truenamer is godly awful. A very optimized truenamer can be a major pain. All you need to do is pump that skill check really high.

Eidolon is from ghostwalk, I believe? Dunno if it should be here, you need to multiclass to be an eidolon, it's kind of like a 'ghost paragon class'

Yorrin
2010-11-27, 05:30 PM
I'll assume you mean CW Samurai here. He has a lot of room for optimization - one out of CW sucks a lot, but coupled with demoralize optimization and Magic of Incarnum, it becomes a lot better. It still sucks, but a lot less.
Hexblade is actually pretty good if you focus on the familiar and you have a lot of room to optimize.
Truenamer is the worst offender here. A non-optimized truenamer is godly awful. A very optimized truenamer can be a major pain. All you need to do is pump that skill check really high.

Eidolon is from ghostwalk, I believe? Dunno if it should be here, you need to multiclass to be an eidolon, it's kind of like a 'ghost paragon class'

I'll admit to having a lack of familiarity with Samurai and Hexblade, so I'll take your word for it.

I'll admit I screwed up truenamer, though. My bad.

Eidolon, on the other hand, is indeed from ghostwalk. And if you're a ghost (as defined by ghostwalk) at character creation then you can take it as your base class. It's basically a Fighter, but a bit more restricted and without any ACFs.

true_shinken
2010-11-27, 07:05 PM
Eidolon, on the other hand, is indeed from ghostwalk. And if you're a ghost (as defined by ghostwalk) at character creation then you can take it as your base class. It's basically a Fighter, but a bit more restricted and without any ACFs.
Ghostwalk kind of disagrees on that.


You can never take eidolon as your first character class, so you never get the 4 multiplier for your skill points with this class.

Callista
2010-11-27, 08:44 PM
Is anyone noticing that lower tiers (as in power-level tiers) tend to be easier to optimize and harder to mess up? I wonder if the origin of tiers simply comes from the assumption of the game designers that everyone will be optimizing and playing at an average skill level, at which point a wizard and a fighter are roughly equivalent.

TehLivingDeath
2010-11-27, 09:16 PM
Is anyone noticing that lower tiers (as in power-level tiers) tend to be easier to optimize and harder to mess up? I wonder if the origin of tiers simply comes from the assumption of the game designers that everyone will be optimizing and playing at an average skill level, at which point a wizard and a fighter are roughly equivalent.

Only at lower levels though. At higher levels you have to actually screw up, not just play on an average level, to keep a Wizard from surpassing a Fighter. Full casters are like that, one spell choice can put them ahead of most non magic users.

That's definitely untrue with the Druid all the way. At 1st level you already have a pet that matches the Fighter. Around 3rd level you're also able to spontaneously summon more Fighters long enough for them to matter, and at 5th you become a Fighter yourself. Even if you take Weapon Focus (scimitar) and head into melee combat, you and your companion combined will probably surpass the fighter at early levels.

Zaq
2010-11-28, 04:01 AM
I'll assume you mean CW Samurai here. He has a lot of room for optimization - one out of CW sucks a lot, but coupled with demoralize optimization and Magic of Incarnum, it becomes a lot better. It still sucks, but a lot less.
Hexblade is actually pretty good if you focus on the familiar and you have a lot of room to optimize.
Truenamer is the worst offender here. A non-optimized truenamer is godly awful. A very optimized truenamer can be a major pain. All you need to do is pump that skill check really high.

Eidolon is from ghostwalk, I believe? Dunno if it should be here, you need to multiclass to be an eidolon, it's kind of like a 'ghost paragon class'

Every time someone says that, I die a little bit inside.

Lord Bingo
2010-11-28, 05:11 AM
In general the classes that that depend most on optimization are those whose power/playability relies heavily on permanent choices, such as feat selection and in some cases spell selection, and I think classes should be ranked accordingly -that is, dependent on their reliance upon permanent choices.

fx, the Cleric's spell selection is his main source of power/playability and there is not a whole lot of feats that will augment the power of these directly. Conversely, the Fighter's power/playability is almost completely dependent on his choice of combat feats.
In this sense the fighter is harder to optimize than the cleric because you need to choose more carefully to make the most of his potential.

I like the idea of an optimization ranking system but I think it will be hard to pull it off. Where is the Gish in this system or indeed any of the endless multiclass+PrC choices that optimization relies upon? Simply ranking the base classes seems a bit sub-optimal and it is really of little use to a new/poor player without guides on how to do said optimization.

Coidzor
2010-11-28, 05:26 AM
I'd say gish builds are definitely treated as if they're in rank 3 territory due to the drive to retain both 9th level spells and 16+ BAB by level 20. Even though most people don't play that long. So somewhere in the 2-3 range, since one has to plan out the build rather than plunking down level after level and grabbing a single, fairly obvious core feat like with druid.

I'd say that favored souls and sorcerers are 3s and wizards and clerics are 2, or at least FS and sorcs are low 3s and wizards, clerics, and archivists are high 3s. Probably would put spirit shaman with wizard and cleric as well, because, IIRC, they can choose from their entire spell list which spells they want to treat as their spells known to cast spontaneously for the coming day.

Lord Bingo
2010-11-28, 05:34 AM
What would happen if we ranked character roles, such as Melee DPS, Melee DPS Gish, Meat Shield, Divine Caster, Skill Monkey, etc., rather than rogues, fighters and clerics, so that we ranked them according to how hard it is to optimize for a role rather than optimize a class?

Coidzor
2010-11-28, 05:36 AM
Well, we'd have to decide upon the roles and how to define what exactly their duties are.

Lord Bingo
2010-11-28, 05:39 AM
Well, we'd have to decide upon the roles and how to define what exactly their duties are.

Well duh -obviously:smallwink: But would it not be more interesting/useful?

Coidzor
2010-11-28, 05:45 AM
Well duh -obviously:smallwink: But would it not be more interesting/useful?

I'm not really sure about how useful it is considering the myriad ways with which to achieve a goal makes me suspect it would run the risk of turning into an index of build skeletons and their analyses.

As for more interesting/useful... *shrug* I'm pretty neutral to both.

Kurald Galain
2010-11-28, 05:46 AM
I'd say gish builds are definitely treated as if they're in rank 3 territory due to the drive to retain both 9th level spells and 16+ BAB by level 20.

Getting 9th level spells by level 20 is useful for theoretical optimization only. Like you said, most people don't play that far anyway - but also, those that do can go on to level 21 and up. So nine-by-twenty is just as completely arbitrary as having 35 hit points by level four.

Prime32
2010-11-28, 07:30 AM
What would happen if we ranked character roles, such as Melee DPS, Melee DPS Gish, Meat Shield, Divine Caster, Skill Monkey, etc., rather than rogues, fighters and clerics, so that we ranked them according to how hard it is to optimize for a role rather than optimize a class?How is "melee DPS" more of a role than DPS? I assume you mean a combo DPS/tank, but even then there are ways for a ranged character to pull that off.

Likewise, "gish" isn't much of a role. A fighter/beguiler contributes very differently to a psychic warrior or a duskblade.

AstralFire
2010-11-28, 07:41 AM
Swordsages != Eldritch Knights != Duskblades/Spellswords, for example. Regarding gishes. One casts offensive spells that involve the sword, one casts spells before and after the sword, and one casts spells into their sword.

Tytalus
2010-11-28, 11:27 AM
Druid: Rank 2. Not taking natural spell, poor spell selection, poor selection of forms for wild shape, and a poor choice of animal companion can all reduce a druid's power significantly.


Assuming equally poorly optimized party members, the druid shines even when making mistakes. It simply has so many features (fails-saves) that it's very hard to mess up completely.

If you only choose a decent wildshape, decent spells, decent feats (you only need one), OR a decent companion a druid can meaningfully contribute to a party. It's not likely to be off in all those aspects.



Commoner. I've done it. It was overpowered. Sorry, at the end of the day, magic items and feats can get you REALLY powerful regardless of class (for the record, Orc Commoner with Headlong Rush, Spirited Charge, Shock Trooper, and the prerequisites. Skillful Valorous Lance. A really nice Warbeast mount. Maxed out Ride and Handle Animal. A bunch of items to make him more likely to hit).


Without house/alternative rules (flaws), you are looking at ECL12 to pull those seven feats off.

The conclusion to draw from it seems to be that at a sufficiently high level, even a commoner can be overpowered. Doesn't say too much about low-level games, though, which I would guess are more common. Perhaps it's more of a challenge to optimize for versatility than (charging) damage.