View Full Version : PrCs as Rewards?

Realms of Chaos
2012-07-17, 11:10 AM
This is just a random idea that popped into my head but it has stuck with me all morning so I decided to see what you fine folks think of it.

Already in 3.5, there are several classes like the rainbow servant, drunken master, and assassin that possess a more quest-ish element in the prerequisites. My question goes simply as thus: why not treat PrCs in general like any other reward. They are prestige classes, after all, and winning that prestige seems like as good of a reward as anything else DMs hand out.

The below are my initial thoughts on the subject which can thankfully be mixed and matched however an enterprising DM sees fit:

Idea 1: No Prerequisites: If you want to give out PrCs as simple rewards, making your players pay for them in feat taxes just isn't fair. This is especially true if you want to give out a reward nobody has particularly prepared for without tipping them off or if you don't want players trying to qualify for rewards they may never run across. By taking away some or all prerequisites, you allow players to play their characters more in the moment.

Ideally, PrCs can still only be entered at the level they were intended to be entered by (no level 3 masters of shrouds or the like), but other than that, feel free to go nuts. Though you may keep some basic prerequisites like one's race or alignment if desired, the lack of other prerequisites could allow for some awesome combinations that otherwise wouldn't work. Meanwhile, combinations that otherwise wouldn't make any sense at all ( such as a barbarian/incantatrix) often wouldn't give the character any real advantage.

Idea 2: Level boost: Simply gaining access to a PrC and bypassing certain restrictions may not be enough of a "reward" for you, however. One possibility to consider to counter this would be to have the character instantly gain a level in this new PrC to make the matter official and give the character a boost of power to make them seem especially relevant as they come into this new prestige. I personally suggest giving the target XP equal to his or her previous class level x 1000 so that those who were 10 XP away from the next level don't feel jipped and those who had just gained a new level won't get an unfair boost in the long run.

Depending on the pace of the campaign and the degree of realism you want to keep within it, getting this boost may be instantaneous or it may take training lasting anywhere from 1 day to 1 year or longer. Also, be careful of awarding famous 1-level dips like the mindbender in this way. To deal with the problem of players trying to gain a free level from everyone they come across, there are a few possible fixes.

Have the training needed to get that level take too long.
Don't give many opportunities to gain that level boost or at least vary them enough so no single player would want them all.
Simply put a limit on how many boosts you can get (one is good but some may go with two for this).
Allow further missions to grant additional boosts to a class in the future so that a player can advance just as quickly while keeping to a single PrC.

Idea 3: Avoid "Best of Both Worlds" Abuses: While it's perfectly possible and acceptable that someone would have planned to take a PrC you were going to offer as a reward, be cautious of players who specifically request PrCs just so that they don't have to meet the prerequisites. Likewise, be cognizant of any cheese that a lack of prerequisites may be allowing players to accomplish. If starting a campaign at high level, consider forcing players to meet the prerequisites for all PrCs they have so far to avoid hand-waved cheese. Finally, as mentioned above, think hard before you offer quick one-level dip classes out in this way. Of course, if you're fine with players "gaming the system", have at it.

Idea 4: Rewards From People and Rewards from Tasks: Although a good many classes would make sense to learn from someone else, I could imagine that certain PrCs could be accessed more or less from PC proactivity even with this alternate in place. Mastering certain Arcane PrCs may be as simple as reading through an arcane tome. Divine PrCs may be granted through divine agents in response to simply being an excellent supplicant. Becoming an assassin may be as easy as assassinating lots of people and learning from your experiences. In the end, it is up to the DM to decide what PrCs can be earned purely through PC intentions and to what degree.

Implementation: In general, I can picture 4 ways to implement this system into a campaign. Each may have its ups and downs and you can pick between them however you wish (or come up with your own).

Method 1: replace PrC selection with PrC rewards: In this method, you don't allow for any degree of active PrC selection beyond what tasks you do and what people you help. With this alternate, prestige becomes something that you actually have to earn instead of something everyone is automatically entitled to. However, many 3.5 players may not want having the character creation process limited for them (even if this method does cut out a lot of possible cheese).

Method 2: PrC selection and PrC rewards as equals: In this method, PrCs can be chosen or be rewarded. Even if a player had previously established a 20-level plan in their head, the ability to jump ahead a level or to gain talents that would help them at a task at hand (such as accessing a dragon slaying class after learning that the BBEG is a dragon) may be tempting enough for someone to abandon their plan.

Method 3: PrC selection favored over PrC rewards: In this method, PrCs can be selected at the normal rate but the minimum level needed for a PrC reward is increased by +2. As such, the rewards seem like something far more special than normal PrC selection (you did just go up a level and ignore the requirements, after all).

Method 4: PrC rewards favored over PrC selection: This method is the polar opposite of #3, only allowing someone to choose a PrC 3 levels after meeting all of its prerequisites. Though players can still complete full 10-level PrCs of their own selection, it presents the option of simply being rewarded with power as an early and easy alternative to simply deciding your own destiny. Furthermore, this method typically creates a 2-level window when PCs have no real reason NOT to accept a PrC reward (especially as the level boost pushes them closer to choosing their own PrC).

The Obvious Complaint and a Rebuttal of Sorts: The obvious complaint with PrC rewards, at least if PrC selection is hindered to any degree, is that the character creation process is wounded. D&D 3.5 is the game that it is in part due to its immense number of options for character creation and not being able to plan your character until his or her retirement may simply make some people rage. If you are these people, those implementations probably weren't meant for you.

The games that I often get into IRL (and which forums tend to forget exist every once in awhile) are purely casual ones. In a casual game where wizards and samurai fight side by side, few players I game with even think 2 levels ahead, much less 19. Furthermore, character creation being somewhat beyond your control isn't something totally foreign to D&D as a whole.

As an informed gamer, I know that magic items make up a huge part of character creation, especially for martial characters. In a game without a "magic-mart", however, most players don't really control what they get unless a spellcaster dedicates gp, xp, downtime the plot may not give them, and precious, precious feat slots. In these cases, it is traditionally accepted that it is the DM's responsibility to ensure that the party is well-equipped. D&D is largely a cooperative game and this is one of the areas where the DM cooperates directly with the players. As DMs are already trusted with items, the idea of PrC rewards simply adds prestige classes into the same pile. Whether this is "better" or "worse" (either from the DM's or the Players' point of view) is largely a matter of opinion but I believe that it could work.

2012-07-17, 11:26 AM
I'd say the main problem is that the right PrCs are so individual to a character that having one become available as a quest reward will just get turned down, perhaps even if it comes with an xp boost (I mean, the Wizard wouldn't want to take a level in something that didn't progress arcane casting even if it was 'free' since it'd edge out one of their actual caster levels).

If you wanted to do this, what I'd suggest would be to make the PrCs be free Gestalt levels that layer onto a character's base classes. So if the Wizard gets offered membership in the Warshaper Guild or whatever for completing a quest, he can take it without feeling that his Wizarding is going to be harmed.

2012-07-17, 02:09 PM
Well, I remember seeing somewhere that someone took a bunch of PrCs and made them into feat trees for the purpose of E6; if can find them, those would make excellent rewards.

Ah, here's a start. (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=3786.0)

2012-07-17, 02:21 PM
Well, I remember seeing somewhere that someone took a bunch of PrCs and made them into feat trees for the purpose of E6; if can find them, those would make excellent rewards.

Ah, here's a start. (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=3786.0)

...The list for normal class capstones is so unbalanced it isn't even funny. DR1/- for a Barbarian, as opposed to the Cleric getting an entirely new domain, or the Wizard getting a metamagic reducer. The prestige class ones aren't so bad though.

2012-07-17, 02:39 PM
As I said, it's a start.

2012-07-17, 06:11 PM
(I mean, the Wizard wouldn't want to take a level in something that didn't progress arcane casting even if it was 'free' since it'd edge out one of their actual caster levels)
Is the familiar so important for an archmage? Or a Mystic theurge? Or an eldritch knight? (granted for the last one, there's a dead level... but not for the others, hehe...)

The best would be a fighter taking the Abjurant Champion PrC... full spellcasting for two or three bonus feats.:smallbiggrin:

2012-07-17, 06:38 PM
When I read the title, I thought "that's an awful idea."

When I read who it was by, I was disappointed; I'd expected better from RoC.

When I actually read the OP, I learned that I should never be quick to doubt the unfathomable Realms.

This is a brilliant idea. If I ever go back to playing 3.5, I can totally see using something along these lines.