View Full Version : Making a tier 1 (or 2) martial class (D&D 3.5)

2012-03-12, 07:52 PM
Would giving a wild shape variant Ranger the ability to transform into lycanthrope style hybrid forms in addition to regular animals be enough to boost him to tier 2, or would something else be needed? I'll have to figure out how to boost to tier 1 once I get it up to tier 2.

Other ideas for what would make a tier 1 martial class would be appreciated.

taken from a different thread:

The big issue I see with a lot of the 'Bring T4s and lower up' fixes in this thread, is that people are typically just tacking more damage onto them or whatever.

Rogue isn't T4 because its Sneak Attacks don't hit for tons of damage. They definitely do. Rogue is T4 because all it can do is Sneak Attack and open locks, and it can't do one of these without set-up. They aren't lacking damage, they're lacking options that are not damage.

You have to remember, the Tier System isn't meant to measure damage done, it's meant to measure flexibility. Clerics and Druids are incredible because they can do everything. Rogues are not, because they can't.

I feel a lot of the T1 and T2 nerf ideas work. Limit casting. Limit Druids to either Wild Shape or spells, or limit their spells/companion. It's a lot easier to remove T1 caster utility, than it is to try and give the T4s and below more.

I may need to rethink my approach to this since the lycanthrope form primarily gives more damage output.

2012-03-12, 08:25 PM
T1 is the easiest. Go read a bunch of superhero comics. Study some ancient myths. Given a little time, your character can do all that. Be Paul Bunyan today, The Flash tomorrow. Slicing holes in reality with your awesome swordplay. Being able to hit things hard enough that they're compelled to follow your commands, even when you're not around to put the fear of you into them. You basically have to make up a bunch of spells that are fluffed as being mundane badassery taken to a ridiculous degree, and give your class that.

It's also why most supers and magic-users have areas of specialty, and are therefore T2 or lower. T2 is taking one trick, or a small handful of tricks, and breaking them repeatedly. Any individual trick is still a win button against anyone without equivalent means, you just can't prepare your bag of win buttons to account for what you expect to meet today.

2012-03-12, 08:28 PM
Nope. Not even close, and that would be a TON of work. Why? For each shape, you'd have to create a practically new creature. Your best bet, at least for ranger is to become a Mystic Ranger, Shooting Star, Sword of the Arcane Order, With the Wildshape ACF here's a little guide for: it http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=1543.0 . Before level ten, you're a wizard, pretty much, and then level 11 to 20, go into the Master of Many Forms prc, and find a way to get SU, EX, and SP abilities for all creatures, at all times. Wish abuse and other cheesy things from wildshape will likely be needed, in order to fully achieve t1/t2, here's a guide for Master of Many Forms: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19528526/updated_Master_of_Many_Forms_Bible__official_wild_ shape_rules. This may not bring you all the way to t1, but you'll end up at least be t2. Admittedly, this is more of a build than a class, but it gives you an idea of the power level needed.

2012-03-12, 08:38 PM
Tier 2 is broadly defined as the ability to, simply put, do anything. It is a class that can reasonably have, with the proper build (this means ignoring things like "every class can Pun-Pun/diplomance/abuse infinite wealth loops"), a solution for any given problem. For instance, a sorcerer can reasonably be built to sneak around, fight armies, or mind control/charm his way into the brains/hearts of everybody he meets, but you can't necessarily do all of those well.

Tier 1 is broadly defined as the ability to do everything. They are almost guaranteed, by virtue of their class, the ability to solve any problem regardless of build, assuming sanity. For instance, the wizard can do all of the above by changing his spell list, which is, while not unlimited, pretty damn close to it.

You won't get to tier 2 or 1 simply by giving martial classes better mobility and the ability to hit things harder. You can make them solid tier 3s, and in a mostly combat focused game they can hold their own with not-absurdly-optimized casters (see ToB for a good example), but you can't hit things hard enough, or fast enough, or flying enough, to go to tier 2 or 1. The people in tier 1 and 2 can already do the whole melee thing pretty damn well, it's the fact they can do everything/anything else that counts.

EDIT: Essentially, you can't get a T1 martial class without making them a full caster (or defining Druids and Wizards who know Shapechange as martial). And why would you want to? While T1s are interesting, in practice T3 and T2 classes can act about the same way, just with a couple areas of expertise instead of everything (or, for some T3s, a lot of areas they're pretty good at).

2012-03-12, 08:53 PM
Other ideas for what would make a tier 1 martial class would be appreciated.

The problem with making a martial class Tier 1 is that a lot of the stuff that makes something Tier 1 is the flexibility not just in combat but out of combat. If a class focuses on combat it is very hard to move it beyond Tier 3 and only Tier 2 if one is really ridiculous.

A wildshape ranger is generally considered to be low Tier 3 . However, the standard wildshape ranger (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantCharacterClasses.htm#ranger) requires losing some class features, and you want to give it wildshape in addition to, rather than instead of those features. But the wildshape ranger is on the low end of Tier 3, so the additional combat abilities don't by itself add that much, so it would still be solidly T3.

How would one go about making a T2 or T1 martial class that was still plausibly martial? Well, all three of the ToB classes (crusader, warblade and swordsage) are T3. ranger + wildshape gestalted with one of them might be pushing the upper end of T3. The warblade's class features probably go best with those of the ranger, but the total number of maneuvers is still small enough that one won't get much of the way utility. I'd say that that along with letting the Warblade learn a new maneuver every level at first rather than at the standard progression. But this is really using the fact the there are non-combat maneuvers out there and that the ranger spell list has non-combat options more than anything else.

Craft (Cheese)
2012-03-12, 08:59 PM
Here's my idea on how to make a Tier 1 Martial class. Let's call it the Uberstabber:

First, have a recharging "maneuver" system, similar to ToB but not necessarily exactly the same. Have a set number of "maneuver slots" that the class starts out with, like maybe 5. Every so many levels, give them a new maneuver slot (or more), which lets them pick a new maneuver to have on them.

Next, make sure the pool of possible maneuvers to use is wide enough to be able to cover every possible situation with a single usage.

But this is a tier 2 class. What makes it tier 1 is the final step: Give the uberstabber some ability to toss out all of their maneuvers and repick them all, essentially rebuilding their character from the ground up. My favorite idea for how to fluff this is that they use sheer force of will to channel themselves from an alternate past, who went under completely different training from them.

A refluffed spellcaster? Possibly, but it'd still feel pretty different from "Prepare your spell slots for the day" Wizard/Cleric/Druid.

2012-03-12, 09:31 PM
Arcane Swordsage and Wildshape Ranger/Planar Shepard would likely end up as tier 1.

2012-03-12, 09:42 PM
The first post kind of nails it. You need versatility -- the power to contribute in a wider variety of scenarios. Clerics are my best example for this. They're good at fighting in melee, they have a decent arsenal of spells for firepower, healing, defense, battlefield control, and buffing, and are more than acceptable skill monkeys.

2012-03-12, 10:31 PM
So, basically, if a class could re-spec its bonus feats every day, have a set of ability score bonuses that can be rearranged daily, & choose a new set of class features every day it might approach tier 1, maybe even rearrange skill points.

Can't think of a reason a class would have said abilities, but I will see what I can come up with.

2012-03-12, 11:08 PM
Been said before, I'll say it again: versatility. here is how i'd go about it.

For real tier 2 combat, you'll need a way to engage opponents in a group, at a range, AND single target damage to start. then throw in some de-buffing/control, alternate damage types, countering, and mobility. now make it easy to switch between each of these uses. A sorcerer can fireball, scorching ray, hold monster, grease, mass fly, counterspell, shocking grasp, wall of <substance>, summon monster all in the same fight as a tier two, without even leaving the PHB. I think a martial tier two might be able to get away with slightly less damage/utility as long as each base is covered if your mechanic does not run out of ammo.

For example- to cover AOE, make a charge ability that hits all targets that you come within 10 feet of. for ranged, FUS RO DAH action to deal sonic damage at range and buff yourself/allies. for single target pain, add rending/pounce or poison to a trip master set.
next, we'll add an earth-shaking ground pound ability to trip and deafen all enemies within x squares for a bit of control. Being able to switch damage types easily with litte or no penalty would be nice, too. some utility+combat buffs like invis, mirror image, or flying for self. maybe a few other alternate offense like being able to blind, high burst, and an occational save-or-die on top of all that would put us in the ball park.

outside of combat, give 'em a reason to put points in a mental stat without getting too MAD and add skill points for utility in trapfinding or social skills. then some way of gaining information beyond a gather information check. to round out, find some way to dispel magic/remove curse/ pierce illusion and invis.
This should make a low tier two. maybe high tier three.

i'd make the wild-shaping usable several times a day, and use the hybrid form.
give pounce and rend to forms, as well as regeneration and/or life steal to make you a melee beast, literally.
Certainly scent, make it super scent to locate invis, and give chance to notice illusions.
have forms with poison, constrict, charge cheese to add combat options.
some sort of ROAR for buff/de-buff. have a good flying form, like a wyvren kinda thing, as well as a stealth form that still fights. Wild spell to still use stuff like entangle and healing, summon nature's ally while fighting. maybe a "spell-swallower" ability to have some counter-magic. Whirlwind attack and leap attack tacked on for free, and form that can trample crowds and swallow whole. hybrid form uses bow, so steal Hail of arrows and imbue arrow from arcane archer.
max all the ranger utility from survival + track, searching, spot/listen, knowledges

that'd still need more, but it's a start. Remember- in combat, it's not about how much damage, but in how many ways it can be delivered to suit each situation, and about having hard counters to some specifc situations.

tl;dr- my take on how to make a martial tier 2. some suggestions for the wild shape ranger case.

2012-03-13, 12:22 AM
So, basically, if a class could re-spec its bonus feats every day, have a set of ability score bonuses that can be rearranged daily, & choose a new set of class features every day it might approach tier 1, maybe even rearrange skill points.

Can't think of a reason a class would have said abilities, but I will see what I can come up with.

There's more to it than that. Mundanes are generally limited to dealing with the world through attack rolls and skill/ability checks. Spells can access whole new game states and conditions. The classic example being how mundanes only have one victory condition - HP depletion. Casters have tools that can allow them to seek other victory conditions, like negative levels. Or failed saves. Or depleting ability scores. Or just deciding that they'd rather be somewhere else that the muggles can't go.

So starting with the understanding that every spell/power/etc can be its own separate rule that introduces its own separate game conditions (the amount of overhead Antimagic Field has introduced has been commented on before), T2 is the ability to cherry-pick a few options from that list. T1 is the ability to pick any options from the list. Very few feats, especially those available to nonspellcasters, allow access to those sorts of options. Being forced into a predefined role is T3 at best. (Not that this is necessarily bad, mind. There are plenty of things to suggest T3-4 as the general favorite. Not the least of it being that most of the fan favorite material from latestage 3.5 falls quite clearly there.)

The ability to play any and all mundane games competently will be a high T3, maybe even a 3+. Without specific mechanical abilities to play with the full set of game states, though, you're not breaking into power territory.

2012-03-13, 02:38 AM
Give an Artificer his choice of 5 martial disciplines and recovery mechanic.

Now, the "Fighter" can make his own armor!

2012-03-13, 03:52 AM
So, basically, if a class could re-spec its bonus feats every day, have a set of ability score bonuses that can be rearranged daily, & choose a new set of class features every day it might approach tier 1, maybe even rearrange skill points.

Can't think of a reason a class would have said abilities, but I will see what I can come up with.

Nope. That isn't true flexibility, at least not without an overhaul of all the feats and skills. If you take a fighter and say "you can repick feats and spend your gold again every encounter, discounting consumable items," that still wouldn't be T1. It would be a lot better, since it just gained a ton of flexibility, but the problem is that all the feats, attribute bonuses, and skill bonuses in the world still leave the design space of the class limited to "hitting things with a weapon of some sort." You can replace fighter with almost any other pure martial class; just letting them pick different ways to hit things every day, eight hours, encounter, or even on a per-round basis *probably* won't let them do anything exceptionally well except bashing things, and being incredibly good at bashing things and nothing else is still only T3.

2012-03-13, 05:08 AM
why do you want to make such a high tier martial class?
On the whole I think tier 3 is a much better balance point to aim for; better to cut down the magic classes to tier 3 or maybe a weak 2; than make martial characters to hit tier 1. The newer classes from ToB and that other thing that has Beguiler and such are all at a good tier 3 balance point.

as to tier 1 martial
I'm sure I could make one, or several; but it'd probably end up rather unrealistic and quite silly overpowered; since there's so many different kinds of things it needs to deal with to reach tier 1; especially as that requires more things than being ridiculously good at combat. (or being soooooo ridiculously good at combat that the other things just stop mattering)
It doesn't seem worth it as a thought exercise; unless there's a real actual need for it. And then we'd need clarification on what limits 'martial' would require, in terms of existence of (Su) abilities, if any; and skill limits. and what kind of abilities you can claim to be (Ex) rather than (Su).

Realms of Chaos
2012-03-13, 08:38 AM
As far as I'm aware, the mere concept of a "tier 1 martial class" is an oxymoron, though not for the reasons that you may expect.

As the quote in the OP kind of suggests, getting a mundane class to higher tiers means giving them more than just combat ability. As brought up by subsequent posts, a hypothetical tier 1 or tier 2 class would need to be able to do everything or anything, respectively.

The problem with this is that most people define a martial class as being a combat-focused class (hell, that's what martial means), which this hypothetical class really couldn't be if it was to be tier 1 or 2.

If you take a rogue or fighter or any other martial/skillmonkey class and either tack on abilities or remake it so that it falls into tier 1 or 2, it isn't a tier 1/2 martial class anymore. Instead, it's a tier 1/2 mundane class.

2012-03-13, 08:52 AM
Give an Artificer his choice of 5 martial disciplines and recovery mechanic.

Now, the "Fighter" can make his own armor!

Currently working on a Soul Forged inspired feat and PrC to do exactly this...watch this space (well, not this space, this is someone else's thread after all...)

With relation to this topic, what you're wanting is essentially a prepared fullcaster. Prep fullcasters ARE the definition of Tier 1, the idea of bringing mundane to a standard where it competes is thusly a fundamentally flawed idea imo.
EDIT: kinda ninja'd by Realms....argh. :smalltongue:

Far better to nerf the upper tiers I'd say, Tier 3 is well touted to be the sweet spot of 3.5, and I for one must agree with this. It should also be mentioned that multiclassing is a good way of giving mundane some versatility/utility, think about only imposing xp penalties to multiclassing for spellcaster classes (not including half-casters like paladin & ranger). Removing them for mundane classes, and perhaps taking a leaf out of CS for some multiclassing feat brews would be a helpful start.

2012-03-13, 09:31 AM
IF you think about Tier 1s, they have to be able to do almost everything you can think of, not just things the rules otherwise provide.

Your theoretical class that changes all it's skills and feats every day may still only be tier 3, though a very versatile tier 3. What would make it tier 1 is if some of those skills and feats allowed it to fly, travel through space, to alternate dimensions, build a customized stronghold and summon groups of minions in the same day, then do another six things the next day.

The average tier 1 or 2 has access to, roughly:

Various direct combat methods, such as damage of various types and death effects, applied to single targets, at range, and in an area.
Various indirect combat methods, that apply crippling status effects. From an early level.
Methods to reshape the battlefield in combat and the landscape out of combat.
The creation of new resources from nothing, or their multiplication.
Methods of finding information with non-normal means, such as asking supernatural beings ,talking to landscape features or scrying.
Stealth methods that surpass mundane stealth.
Potent and near absolute defence methods.
Forms of mobility both available and not available to mundane characters, such as flight, burrowing, underwater movement and instantaneous travel and travel to other planes.

Honestly, not a balance point you should actually aim for in most games.

2012-03-13, 12:49 PM
So, basically, if a class could re-spec its bonus feats every day, have a set of ability score bonuses that can be rearranged daily, & choose a new set of class features every day it might approach tier 1, maybe even rearrange skill points.

Can't think of a reason a class would have said abilities, but I will see what I can come up with.

Honestly, unless the class features are amazing, that's not enough. Most feats are terriblem so even if you could switch them out every day most characters would end up choosing more or less the same ones each and every time. Ability score bonuses aren't bad, but if you're a martial character you're going to be relying on either Strength and Constitution or Dexterity and Constitution, and maybe one other depending on what your feats require, so you'll probably end up making the same decisions each and every time and not being any better than you were if you couldn't switch the bonuses around.

The only way I can see it working is if you gave them supernatural abilities that were at least as good as the most popular spell selections.

2012-03-13, 12:53 PM
Eldan and RoC both make very good points. A martial class, is one that's focused on combat, and if your focused on combat, you shouldn't be flexible enough to do everything. We should never see a batman fighter type class, it just shouldn't happen. And as Eldan pointed out, trying to balance martial, skill and spell based classes in the T1 or T2 range, isn't really a great balance point. T3-4 is generally the accepted power level to strive for.

Lastly, many have tried to homebrew a martial based T1 or T2 class and not succeeded. This (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=175230) stands as likely one of the best attempts to hit T2 with melee, and it honestly does an okay job. Battlefield control, death attacks, debuffs, and summoning. And if you try to use it, almost every DM will tell you no, because it just looks so overpowered. Anyways, that's my opinion.

2012-03-13, 02:06 PM
Before you design, you have to ask yourself, "What do I see a Tier 1 ubersword wielder doing?"

For example, let's imaging a 15th level fighter:

Faced with a swooping dragon, the fighter throws a javelin and then leaps 150' feet into the air in one move action, landing on the dragon's neck. The fighter then grabs the javelin embedded in the dragon, using it to hold on. Then, using his sword, he severs the dragon's spinal cord. The fighter then rides the dragon down, leaping off at the last second, landing firmly on the ground. Round 1 over. No damage.

Once you know what you want your classes to actually *DO*, then you can design them. And what they do has to be as bad-assed as any other Tier 1.

2012-03-13, 05:03 PM
we could make a tier 1 martial class, without going skill monkey; that's just so glaringly overpowered it outshadows tier 1s in combat situations, and would pwn them in combat.
Tiers are meant to be about power levels; and while the reason things are in tier 1 is because of their extreme flexibility; it should be possible to make an equally, or more powerful character without that flexibilty, because they're just sooooooo utterly ridiculous at what they do. Probably going into the high superpowered territory. At a certain point, some things kind of stop mattering. And while being able to do everything is very powerful; if you're just THAT powerful; alot of noncombat things just aren't necessary.
We could make a tier 0 martial class; man would that be insanely overpowered; not terribly believable either. It'd just break the game so hard that it woudln't be any fun.

2012-03-13, 05:12 PM
Actually, that would most likely still put you in the tier 3-4 range. It would make you overpowered, but not Tier 1, because it is not exactly the same. I could homebrew a class and write "Wins combat automatically" on it as a level 1 class feature and it would not be Tier 1.

Tiers are not just about power. Flexibility is the major part of what makes someone Tier 1. As the system notes, a tier 2 can be just as powerful as a Tier 1. But the Tier 1 has several ways to be broken and can switch between them. The same goes for tiers 3 and 4: tier 4 is good at one thing, sometimes very good. Tier 3 is competent to good in several.

2012-03-13, 05:25 PM
There's just about one way I could think of to justify a Tier 1 martial class, and that involves taking the concept of martial study to a somewhat ridiculous level. Still, I feel that it's a level warranted by D&D's universe, so take it as you will...

This class is an individual who works to study not only the sword, but the threads which bind together the universe itself (possibly straying into "arcane" territory here...). As he progresses in level, he learns to cut through reality itself, unleashing devastation on his enemies. The Unweaver, perhaps?

Or, heck, you could make a non-arcane Bard who focuses around control of the narrative itself. He's so aware of his genre and story that he can actually manipulate the plot, kicking in the fourth wall to suit his fancy. You don't need an uber ability or buffs to strike down the evil wizard when you can rewrite his history to give him a crippling weakness. Actually, that could be a rather fun way to work a Tier 1...

2012-03-13, 05:47 PM
Oooh. You start with basic action points, but then you get, basically, Fate points from the game of the same name. You get to make up new plot threads, secret facts about the BBEG, "luckily" find the correct item around the corner, and find out your guard has narcolepsy.

2012-03-13, 08:13 PM
Oooh. You start with basic action points, but then you get, basically, Fate points from the game of the same name. You get to make up new plot threads, secret facts about the BBEG, "luckily" find the correct item around the corner, and find out your guard has narcolepsy.
Don't forget Never Found the Body, Applied Phlebotinum, and conveniently-placed traps. Actually...yeah. Done right, this could be a class to rival the Wizard, and a really fun concept.

2012-03-14, 02:55 AM
We could make him a pseudo-prepared caster. Give him a list of daily Narrations, let him prepare some of it. Don't call it preparation, call it Foreshadowing.

2012-03-14, 08:08 AM
As other posters have mentioned, the main reason that tier 1's are labeled as such and martial classes are mostly tier 4 and below isn't because of combat power, but because of versatility.

Since there are only so many tricks you can pull with a sword, if you want to push a martial class above tier 3 you really need to give it lots of class abilities (either extraordinary, spell-like, or supernatural in nature) that let him do things outside his normal core competency.
...which may make them start to feel less like a martial class and more like a hybrid-caster.

If you've never played as or with a dragon shaman, I recomend reading up on that class. It's mostly a melee class, with plenty of nice extras, including auras (for buffing), dragon-themed energy resistances, breath attacks, and even eventually wings for flight.

If you are concerned about balance, lifting tier 4's and 5's up to tier 1 or dragging all the primary casters down to tier 4 would be equally difficult. It's probably easier to do more, smaller adjustments and try to meet in the middle.

2012-03-14, 10:14 AM
For a tier 2 martial class, give him ubercharger levels of offense at range as well as in melee, give him the ability to ignore most nonstandard defenses (such as invisibility/magical concealment or Wind Wall+Fly), give him near invulnerability to anything that can be done to him in combat (e.g. add class level to all saves and as a dodge bonus to AC unless both he and the caster are flat-footed*), and you should be good.

*When there's no combat involved, you can cast without rolling initiative, and therefore when flat-footed.

For tier 1, you'll also want to give him mass combat abilities (e.g. some sort of area-of-effect attack), the ability to boost allies (probably morale bonuses via some sort of leadership/general ability), the ability to weaken enemies (again, morale effects, possibly based off the Intimidate skill, could work well here), and strong peaceful-interaction-type abilities. He doesn't have to be able to do it all simultaneously, but he should be able to switch without any permanent expenditure/long-duration retraining.

Note that Kalim is not precisely correct; while flexibility is the main difference between tier 1 and 2, or between tier 3 and 4, the difference between tier 1/2 and tier 3/4 is one of raw power and the difficulty of defending against it.

2012-03-14, 11:52 AM
We could make him a pseudo-prepared caster. Give him a list of daily Narrations, let him prepare some of it. Don't call it preparation, call it Foreshadowing.
Nice. This could also serve as a more powerful form of Scrying: instead of seeing what your opponent is going to be doing, you actually have the ability to make them do something, within a reasonably vague framework. In fact, this could be the cornerstone of the Narrator.

2012-03-14, 01:40 PM
"In fact, I know all about you, Badevilguy. Three score years ago, when the earth was younger than today, your father had three sons..."

2012-03-14, 01:58 PM
Yeah, making the fighter good at fighting isn't the solution. Maybe you could look to the Pathfinder Gunslinger as an example. It's a (tier 3) combat-oriented class that gets utility abilities like these:

Blast Lock: The gunslinger makes an attack roll against a lock within the first range increment of her firearm. A Diminutive lock usually has AC 7, and larger locks have a lower AC. The lock gains a bonus to its AC against this attack based on its quality. A simple lock has a +10 bonus to AC, an average lock has a +15 bonus to AC, a good lock has a +20 bonus to AC, and a superior lock has a +30 bonus to AC. Arcane lock grants a +10 bonus to the AC of a lock against this attack. On a hit, the lock is destroyed, and the object can be opened as if it were unlocked. On a miss, the lock is destroyed, but the object is jammed and still considered locked. It can still be unlocked by successfully performing this deed, by using the Disable Device skill, or with the break DC, though the DC for either break or Disable Device or the AC increases by 10. A key, combination, or similar mechanical method of unlocking the lock no longer works, though knock can still be employed to bypass the lock, and the creator of an arcane lock can still bypass the wards of that spell.
Scoot Unattended Object: The gunslinger makes an attack roll against a Tiny or smaller unattended object within the first range increment of her firearm. A Tiny unattended object has an AC of 5, a Diminutive unattended object has an AC of 7, and a Fine unattended object has an AC of 11. On a hit, the gunslinger does not damage the object with the shot, but can move it up to 15 feet farther away from the shot’s origin. On a miss, she damages the object normally.
Stop Bleeding: The gunslinger makes a firearm attack and then presses the hot barrel against herself or an adjacent creature to staunch a bleeding wound. Instead of dealing damage, the shot ends a single bleed condition affecting the creature. The gunslinger does not have to make an attack roll when performing the deed in this way; she can instead shoot the firearm into the air, but that shot still uses up ammunition normally.

As you can see, all three of these abilities are based on the class's flavor (using guns.) I think if you gave these kinds of abilities all the way up to level 20, you could hit tier 3 or 2 easily. To make this work for a warrior class, you need to give it some kind of theme.

For example, a warrior styled after werebears could grant himself and his allies Constitution and AC bonuses, scent, and force enemies to sleep (hibernation).

As another example, a hypothetical dwarven warrior based on earth and stone could get battlefield control, earth glide, and the ability to cast a variety of elemental or mind-affecting spells by destroying valuable gems (each type of gem is a birthstone and has various cultural associations).

The biggest problem of the fighter is its fundamental design, which dates back to fantasy war games like chainmail. "This is the high hit point front liner who's good at hitting things." D&D's rules are much more complex than that, but the fighter has stayed the same as a bland, one-size-fits-all class which really limits its abilities. This is why Legend decided to get rid of the fighter and make more specific warrior classes like the barbarian, rogue, and ranger.

Another option might be to make flavorful supernatural feat chains for fighters, with prerequisites starting at 4th level (to prevent dipping). Warriors who rely on more than just martial prowess are common in fantasy settings. They are also common in roguelikes which have detailed pantheons, which allow characters of any class to worship gods for supernatural bonuses (both active and passive). You could expand the versatility even more by giving the ability to summon creatures that can cast a fair-sized array of spells.

You could pair combat bonuses with utilties to get something workable, and as long as they have fighter levels as prereqs they shouldn't be too overpowered. For example, you could have a feat grant +1 to melee damage and also let the fighter crack the earth to make a cone of difficult terrain and let the fighter ignore 2 squares of difficult terrain per round, or a feat to give the fighter fast healing 1 for a number of rounds equal to his Constitution modifier anytime he takes more than 5 damage and let him add his Constitution modifier to social skill checks with animals, fey, magical beasts, and plants, or have a feat that lets the fighter become invisible to one creature as a swift action if he attacks and misses. A rethinking of the 3.5 D&D feat system (which was originally, by the RAW, "no supernatural abilities") could do a lot for feat-based classes like the fighter.

2012-03-14, 10:22 PM
I'll toss in my own attempt (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=12112974&postcount=61). The key thing, I think, is to supply varied abilities that manage to fit the class.

I've expanded the idea into a brainstorming thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=12898635#post12898635).