View Full Version : [Variant] Never Behind the Curve

2007-06-18, 10:13 PM
One frequent gripe is that characters who multiclass often find themselves behind the curve on their key abilities, with no way (short of a rebuild) of catching back up again; a character who takes one level of less-than-full BAB has a BAB permanently behind all other characters of their level, and a mage who gives up a caster level has that level gone, forever. Compared to their level, gaining +1 level of existing class casting is a holding pattern, not new power.

With that in mind, I propose the following system:
At 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, a character picks a Primary Feature from the following list, provided they meet the prerequisites. Every class they take from that point forward advances that Primary Feature. If you don't meet the prerequisites for any when you reach a level where you gain one, you can hold off on gaining one until a later level, but must take the first one for which you meet the prerequisites (you may choose between any that you qualify for at the same level)

As compensation, remove all casting progression from mage prestige classes. I'd consider cutting all prestige classes down to Cleric BAB at best, but that's kicking the fighters while they're fighters; consider doing so for Nine Swords prestige classes, though. Nine Swords prestige classes other than the Master of Nine should have their maneuver progression removed. It might also not be too bad to nerf the skill points of 6 + intelligence modifier PrCs, and strip Sneak Attack from them.

Designer's Note: These aren't intended to re-balance classes, merely to make multiclassing involve fewer sacrifices.

Primary Feature List:
Prerequisite: 5 or more levels in a class that grants Skirmish, Sneak Attack, or Sudden Strike
Benefit: Select one class that grants Skirmish, Sneak Attack, or Sudden Strike. You gain that class feature as though your class level in the selected class equalled your character level, not counting levels in other classes which provide one of the above-mentioned abilities .

Combat Aptitude
Prerequisite: Combined levels in classes granting 1/level base attack bonus progression totalling 5th+.
Benefit: Your base attack bonus is equal to your hit dice, regardless of which progression each individual hit die provides. When wielding manufactured weapons or unarmed strikes, you make iterative attacks according to your new BAB.

Combat Fortitude
Prerequisite: At least 5 hit dice as d10s or d12s
Benefit: All of your hit dice are d10s, except for those that are naturally larger. If you have 5 or more d12 hit dice, all of your hit dice are d12s. This applies retroactively; you gain one hit point for each d8 hit die you had, two for each d6, and three for each d4, doubled for your first hit die; if your hit dice become d12s, increase these numbers by one, and gain one hit point for each d10 (if this feature had previously upgraded all of your hit dice to d10s, and you then upgrade further to d12s, gain hit points from the current d10s, not their original die sizes). Additionally, your base fortitude save increases to +2, plus 1/2 your character level, whenever it is less than that.

Divine Mission
Prerequisite: Paladin (http://corporation.walagata.com/fax/wiki/index.php/Paladin) level 5th+
Benefit: You gain Mantles with your character level, not your Paladin level.

Expert Combatant*
Prerequisite: Fighter level 5th+
Benefit: You gain fighter bonus feats as though your fighter level equaled your character level. Additionally, you qualify for feats as though you were a fighter of your character level, but only for satisfying prequisites of Fighter Level x+.

Lure of Shadow
Prerequisite: Shadowcaster level 5th+
Benefit: Your Shadowcaster caster level is equal to your character level, and you gain one Mystery for every character level that you gain, and gain access to new levels of Mysteries as per your character level. You gain no other class features of the Shadowcaster class, such as extra Fundamentals, Umbral Sight, or Sustaining Shadow; paths accessed entirely through Mysteries granted by other class levels provide no bonus feats. If using a fix that instead grants a bonus feat for paths completed, Mysteries gained from this feature grant bonus feats, to a maximum of one bonus feat per three Shadowcaster class levels.

Magical Study
Prerequisite: Spellcaster (or see below) level 5th+
Benefit: Select a spellcasting class that you have at least 5 levels in. Whenever you gain a level in another class, you gain spells known and spells per day for that spellcasting class as though you had gained a level of that spellcasting class, but this only affects the highest available spell level (a 4th-level Sorcerer/5th-level fighter with this ability would have 6/6/4/4/4 spells per day, plus bonus spells, and know 6/3/2/2/2).
You gain no extra spell slots for specialization, nor do you gain domain slots; additionally, you are restricted to one bonus spell slot for a high ability score per class and per spell level, for all spell levels accessed through this feature (if you have this ability for two classes, you gain one bonus spell for each class, but they must be assigned to different spell levels). If you have access to domains from the class this ability is selected for, you may choose, when preparing spells, to turn one spell slot per spell level provided by this feature into a domain slot; you may do this to as many or as few spell levels as you like, and may turn them back when you next prepare spells; essentially, one slot per level granted by this ability can be used as a normal spell slot or a domain spell slot, in a class that grants domains.
This applies retroactively; you gain this immediately for all levels you had prior to gaining this ability. Additionally, your caster level is equal to your hit dice, and Spellcraft and Concentraton are class skills for all of your classes.
Special: You can take this Primary Feature twice. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take this feature, it applies to a different class. This may be applied to the Warlock or Dragonfire Adept. In that case, it affects invocations known and Eldritch Blast/breath weapon damage. If this is applied to Artificer, Use Magic Device (instead of Spellcraft) becomes a class skill, and it applies to the Artificer's infusions. If this is applied to a Truenamer, Truespeak becomes a class skill instead of Spellcraft. Finally, if it is applied to a Psionic class, it grants Psicraft (instead of Spellcraft) and affects manifestations instead of spellcasting.

Master Shapeshifter
Prerequisite: Wild Shape ability or Shapechange Druid level 5th+
Benefit: You can use Wild Shape or your Druidic Shapechange ability as a Druid of your character level.

Prerequisite: Bard level 5th+
Benefit: Perform is a class skill for all of your classes. Additionally, levels in all of your classes stack with levels of Bard for determining the effectiveness of your Bardic Music ability, its uses per day, and which Bardic Music effects you can generate.

Pact Seal
Prerequisite: Binder level 5th+
Benefit: You may bind Vestiges as a Binder of your character level. This affects your Effective Binder Level, the number of Vestiges that you can bind, and the highest level of Vestige that you can bind, but does not affect Pact Augmentation, Soul Guardian, or any other Binder class features, nor can you bind four Vestiges at once through this ability.

Presense of a General
Prerequisite: Marshal (or Marshal (http://boards1.wizards.com/showthread.php?t=752414)) level 5th+
Benefit: Your Major Aura bonus and Minor Auras known advance as though your Marshal level is equal to your character level.

Prerequisite: 5 or more hit dice that grant at least 6 + intelligence modifier skill points per hit die.
Benefit: All skills that are class skills for any one of your levels are class skills for all of them. Additionally, all of your hit dice grant 6 + intelligence modifier skill points. These benefits apply retroactively; if you purchased skill ranks at cross-class cost, those ranks are doubled. Additionally, your base reflex save increases to +2, plus 1/2 your character level, whenever it is less than that.

Sublime Training
Prerequisite: Crusader, Swordsage, or Warblade level 5th+
Benefit: Select one of the three classes listed above that you have at least five levels in. You gain additional maneuvers and stances known as though you gained a level in the selected class whenever you gain a character level, regardless of what class the level is gained in. Additionally, your initiator level for that class equals your character level. You gain maneuvers and stances known retroactively when you take this ability.
Special: This ability should be a prerequisite for the Master of Nine prestige class (all other Tome of Battle prestige classes should have their martial progression removed); this ability does not apply when you gain a level in Master of Nine.

Superior Study
Prerequisite: Magical Study
Benefit: Select a class that you have taken Magical Study for. You cast spells as a member of that class of your character level. This supercedes Magical Study. Additionally, your base will save increases to +2, plus 1/2 your character level, whenever it is less than that.

Supreme Artisan
Prerequisite: Artificer level 5th+
Benefit: Your craft reserve immediately improves to that of an Artificer of your character level, and advances every time you gain a level. Additionally, your Artificer level for purposes of making items, and your effective caster level for item creation, are equal to your character level

True Loyalty
Prerequisite: Level 5th+ in a class granting a Familiar, Special Mount, Animal Companion, or other companion
Benefit: Select one of your companions granted by a class and improved based on your class level. You may use your character level in place of your class level for these purposes.**

Unbridled Rage
Prerequisite: Barbarian level 5th+
Benefit: All of your class levels count as Barbarian levels for purposes of determining the effectiveness of your Rage and the number of Rage uses per day you have. You cannot gain Mighty Rage through this ability, but you gain all other Barbarian class features with Rage in their names.
(Designer's note: Mighty Rage is a clear capstone, and I'm reluctant to give capstone abilities to people who ditch a class)

Unswerving Devotion
Prerequisite: Paladin level 5th+
Benefit: Your Aura of Good, Lay on Hands, and Smite Evil abilities improve based on your character level, not your Paladin level. Additionally, you may freely return to Paladin after multiclassing out of it.

Way of the Fist
Prerequisite: Monk level 5th+
Benefit: Your monk AC bonuses, unarmed damage, flurry of blows, ki strike, and stunning attack function as though you were a monk of your character level. Additionally, the normal prohibition on monks returning to the Monk class after multiclassing does not apply to you.

Way of the Soul
Prerequisite: Monk level 5th+
Benefit: Your base saving throws are calculated as though you were a monk of your character level (replacing all other base saving throw bonuses). Additionally, you have the speed bonus of a monk of your character level, and gain the Diamond Soul, Improved Evasion, Slow Fall, and Wholeness of Body abilities as a monk of your character level. Additionally, the normal prohibition on monks returning to the Monk class after multiclassing does not apply to you.

*Designer's note on Expert Combatant: Not sure how balanced this one is, or how much I like this one. Regardless, all of the other classes qualified you for at least two good ones at 5th level except the dedicated casters, and they're good enough to need you two spend two of these to keep up just to be balanced, and qualify for one at 5th and one at 10th, so. . .
**It may not be unbalanced to allow this ability to allow Rangers to have an animal companion with their effective Druid level (rather than effective Ranger level) equal to their character level.

2007-06-21, 09:01 PM
Some interesting ideas here. Very reminiscent of those Feats that have recently turned up that allow certain Multi Class combinations to complement one another's Class Features.

Makes me wonder, though. Do we really need yet more intricate mechanics to represent this sort of thing? Should we not just tinker with the Base Classes that are being Multi Classed to allow this sort of thing, like allowing a Rogue who takes Ranger Levels to keep his Sneak Attack at the expense of Favoured Enemy?

Good ideas, here, not sure if I would use them as written, though.

2007-06-22, 01:02 PM
Some interesting ideas here. Very reminiscent of those Feats that have recently turned up that allow certain Multi Class combinations to complement one another's Class Features.

Makes me wonder, though. Do we really need yet more intricate mechanics to represent this sort of thing? Should we not just tinker with the Base Classes that are being Multi Classed to allow this sort of thing, like allowing a Rogue who takes Ranger Levels to keep his Sneak Attack at the expense of Favoured Enemy?

Good ideas, here, not sure if I would use them as written, though.

It's built based, in part, on those feats. I'd probably eliminate those feats if I'm playing with this system, though.

This is simply a brute power addition; your suggestion of allowing tinkering with base classes could work. This is based on the idea that once you take 5 levels in a class, if you multiclass out, your class features shouldn't go to waste; meanwhile, you get the full (five levels behind, meaning practically nonexistant) class features of the other classes. Rewriting the classes so that you can give up some features in exchange for continued progression on your best features might be better, but it would take a complete rewrite, and the power addition here is minor.

(Edit): Any particular changes you'd reccomend?

2007-06-22, 10:29 PM
Yeah, I think it is a good idea; I am just wary of the potential for abuse (if you can call it that when compared to what Spell Casters can do at High Levels, but you know what I mean...).

Ambusher seems good to me. The only issue I might have is if a Character chooses Rogue and then another Base Class with Sneak Attack in order to ramp up their Sneak Attack. Unless that is what you intended, I think you need to address stuff like that.

Combat Aptitude should probably just apply to Base attack Bonus. The Hit Dice thing should probably have it's own category.

Divine Mission seems fine, but watch out for the same problems as with Ambusher.

Expert Combatant should probably just allow you to gain Fighter Bonus Feats as though you were a Fighter, rather than increase the frequency. The Prerequisites thing is a good idea, though.

Lure of Shadow seems fine.

Magical Study sounds broken for Wizard 5/Sorcerer 5/Cleric 5 or what have you, especially once coupled with Superior Study. Am I missing a restriction?

Master Shapeshifter is probably okay, though Druids are in serious need of a nerf.

Musician strikes me as a good idea.

Pact Seal and Presence of General seem fine.

Skillfull is a great idea, but I suspect it will be the least used.

Sublime Training and Supreme Artisan are a bit beyond my ken. I have no practical knowledge of these Classes and little interest in the theory behind them (sorry, wish I could say something constructive).

True Loyalty and Unbridled Rage seem fine. Unswerving Devotion is a great idea, I think.

Way of the Fist and Way of the Soul seem quite powerful, but I guess that's because the Monk is not!

2007-06-23, 10:57 PM
Working on some of the things you mentioned.

I don't think any other classes get Paladin Mantles (I've only seen them in paladin fixes), so I don't think that's an issue with Divine Mission.

Magical Study is probably the most powerful of the options here, and, yes, a Wiz5/Sor5/Clr5 can cast 7th level spells as a Sorcerer, and 8th level spells as both a Wizard and Cleric (but only two spells of each level from each of the latter classes, plus domains and bonus spells, of all levels above 3). They've traded their ability to fill in their casting behind their highest level for casting of two other classes. A Wiz5/Clr5 with Magical Study in both of them is flat-out better than a Mystic Theurge, because the Theurge sucks; this keeps them able to cast their highest-level spells.

Let's take a 5/6 (or 5/5/1 in something else) Wiz/Clr example, and compare to a 3/3/5 Theurge. The Theurge casts as an 8th level in both classes, casting 4th-level spells. This casts as a 5 or 6, but with two slots available at 4th and 5th level, and one sixth-level slot each. This character can contribute to a party containing a pure wizard or cleric without necessarily overshadowing the pure caster; they have more 6th-level spell slots base (one for wizard, one for cleric, one domain, maybe one for specializing, vs one for wizard and maybe one for specializing, or one cleric and one domain), so anywhere from 1.5 to 4 times as many, but fewer lower-level spell slots, and, more importantly, fewer bonus spells. It's much easier to get 22 int at 11th level than 22 int and 22 wis. Further, this character still has the same number of actions.

The Theurge cannot contribute. Assuming wisdom and intelligence both between 18 and 25, with items, and a specialization, the Theurge has eight 4th-level spell slots (two Wizard, one int, one specialty, two Cleric, one wisdom, one domain), and nothing higher. In four encounters per day, it can cast two 4th-level spells in every fight. The other caster, admittedly, has three fewer 4th level slots (three normal, one bonus, one specialization or domain). They can then do exponentially more with their four fifth-level slots (two normal, one bonus, one specialization or domain), and three sixth-levels (one normal, one bonus, one spec/dom). If they chose to prepare all 4th-level spells, that's twelve slots, to the Theurge's eight. Since the power of spell levels grows at a rate pretty close to exponential, that's a fairly stupid idea; more likely, they'll be casting one or two spells of 5th or 6th level per encounter, with the occasional lower-level spell used for combos or to look like they're doing something. The primary caster doesn't even cast the kind of spell that the Theurge has as it's best spells, because they're not significant.

The pure wizard or cleric has exponentially more power than one who has lost caster levels; the only way to make up for it is to not charge them caster levels. Nobody who wants a reasonably powerful caster character loses caster levels, even though some pretty interesting concepts can only be implemented by doing so. Mages, more than anyone else, need this to keep up (among themselves. Nobody is ever saying that primary casters need anything, other than perhaps a very severe nerf, to keep up with fighters).

Admittedly, yes, I picked a level where the Mystic Theurge is down two spell levels instead of one. At, say, level 10, the Theurge has six 4th-level spells, while the primary caster is no different, except missing the 6th-levels (5/4, for a total of nine slots, four of which are exponentially better than the Theurge's). The Theurge cannot teleport, nor dominate; it casts 1.5 fourth-level spells per encounter. The real mage, burning at the same rate, casts 1.25 spells of the same level and one fifth-level per encounter. The big selling point of the Theurge is that it has twice the casting ability of a normal character (three levels lower), which gives it even more endurance, and it doesn't even have that, at least with spells big enough to be worth combat actions. Unless you're badly hurting for someone to hold the healing wand, you could replace the Theurge with a wizard, and come out better 100% of the time. Few battles/day? Then those higher-level spells mean that you can do more with your actions, which is good since you don't have so many. Long day adventuring with lots of fighting? Well, it's a good thing you have 1.5x as many useful spells as the Theurge does.

If you wanted to get really mean, you make the main caster a Sorcerer, and give him a Cleric cohort. That has even more power output, since it has two actions per round, and still has more, higher-level spells than the Theurge.

"Hi, Mystic Theurge of my level. I'm Batman. Have you met Robin? He outperforms you on a round-per-round basis, and the two of us outperform you on any other basis. Yes, this is a perfectly fair comparison; I spent a feat on him."

Now, for the Magical Study comparison at 10th and 11th level. We'll only compare slots at 4th level and higher, since the lower level slots don't really matter. The multicaster has fewer low-level spells, though.
Normal caster: 5/4 at 10th, 5/4/3 at 11th
Magical Study gives two 4th level and two fifth level class slots at 10th character level. With bonus spells and specialization, that's 4. Times two for two classes, that's 8/8, 16 spells, as opposed to 9. Raise to 11th, and it comes to 8/8/6, 22 instead of 12 (14 instead of 7, counting only the top two levels). Admittedly, that's a lot of spells. We don't care that this caster was weaker at 9th level, since the campaign could easily be starting at 10th; this caster can, likewise, handle its MAD. Still, most combats won't last long enough for this caster to be significantly different from a normal caster, except in variety; they might cast, at 11th level, a 6th level Wizard and Cleric spell in a combat (they can afford to cast 3.5 of their top two levels, or 5.5 of their top three, though, but the battle might not be long enough), instead of a 5th level and 6th level Wizard spell.

Admittedly, I can say that it is a little overpowered (by comparison to other classes in its tier). I could drop bonus spells from it, and/or maybe the specialization benefit and domain spells, maybe?

Superior Study is supposed to be powerful. It, essentially, allows a 5th-level wizard/5th level something else to miss nothing in casting compared to a 10th-level wizard. The downside is, though, that their other features are still those of a 5th-level character, and so might as well not be there (they might have, say, the hit points of a fighter multiclass. Either wizard, meanwhile, can spend a few cheap spells and not get hit) until 15th level, at least. Yes, Superior Study adds "Spellcasting: +1 level of existing X" where X is the class you pick Superior Study for to every level of all other classes. The Neotheurge here is a Wiz5/Clr5/PrCs10 with Magical Study and Superior Study in both classes. I should probably trim a little off of it, but I don't want to take too much.

Skillful is designed for the sneaky rogue who wants to multiclass, say, fighter, and not lose sneakiness. There are options that are more attractive in combat, certainly, but I like Skillful myself and would definitely at least consider it.

The Monk's Ways were really just groupings of Monk class features that, in between them, cover most (but not all) of the Monk, designed into the "offensive" and "defensive" path, although Fist includes some defenses. They let a monk keep up, while still holding out on the "juicy" class features (ooh! Timeless Body, Empty Body, Quivering Palm!)

Edited to add: I'm considering making Way of the Soul not be the only thing that improves your saves here; specifically, I'm considering adding saves to Combat Fortitude (the new ability split from Combat Aptitude), and possibly a few others (if Magical Study didn't need a nerf, I'd consider it); possibly only have these affect specific saves. The wording I'm considering for CF, in that case, would be something like "in addition, if you have at least five levels in classes that have Fortitude as a good save, your base fortitude save is always at least 2 + 1/2 your character level." I don't think saving throws are worth their own ability here, although they could be (that ability would be objectively weaker than Way of the Soul, but not cost 5 monk levels). If they only affect specific saves, Reflex saves would go to either Ambusher or Skillful (if Skillful needs to be buffed over Ambusher, that's where it goes).

2007-06-28, 07:31 PM
Fair enough. The only real way to test balance is through playing (or to have Tippy look it over). I like the premise, though.

2007-07-03, 12:27 AM
I've revised Magical Study.

A Wiz5/Clr5 with MS (both) now has 2 fourth-level spell slots and 2 fifth-level spell slots from each class, plus one bonus spell slot each, for a total of five each, or 10 spells.

A Wiz10 (specialized) or Clr10 has 4 fourth and 3 fifth, plus bonus spells, so 5/4, or nine spells.

The pure caster, though, has single ability dependency, giving higher save DCs, and better class features (Turning or Familiar and Bonus Feats). Plus, there's the none-too-farfetched possibility that the single-classer will have a casting stat of 26 (base of 18, two levels, +6 item; the last one is a significant part of WBL, though, unless it's PC-made; closer to 11th level, though, it becomes more likely), giving a total of 6/4 spells.

Also, I can take out those last bonus spells from Magical Study. That would make the whole thing simpler, and drop the Neotheurge to 4/4, compared to the 5/4 singlecaster, and count on the Neotheurge's greater spell diversity to counteract the singlecaster's higher save DCs (and now more spells).

What do you think of the possibility of adding saving throws to more features?

2007-07-06, 08:30 PM
If you mean allowing greater Saving Throw progression, I'm all for it, but I have to admit I think pretty much every Class should have Monk style Saving Throws.

2007-07-08, 12:57 PM
Saves are in; Combat Fortitude has Fortitude, Skillful has Reflex, and Superior Study has Will. Granted, this adds more power to the already-overpowered Superior Study, but there really was nowhere else to put the Will save. Besides, if the real power classes are spellcasters, then they already have good will saves.

Southern Cross
2010-10-13, 03:05 PM
Great Work! I've also been working on some feats for multiclass characters.Here they are for comparison.
Partial Spellcasting
Prerequisites: Two or more classes (one of which must be a full casting class),casting stat (Int,Wis or Cha) 15+
Benefit: Multiclass characters with this feat add half of the other class(es) they have to one of their full caster classes casting level (chosen when this feat is purchased).This feat can be purchased multiple times,but it must be applied to a different casting class each time.
Full Spellcasting
Prerequisites: Partial Spellcasting for that class,casting stat (Int,Wis or Cha) 17+
Benefit: Multiclass characters with this feat use the lower of their character level or their casting stat to determine their caster level.
As with Partial Spellcasting, it may be bought once for each full caster class the caster possesses.

Realms of Chaos
2010-10-13, 07:32 PM
The problem with this system is that it's actually much easier to fall behind the curve. Though optimizers forget about them on a daily basis, what about characters who take all 20 levels in a single base class?

What you've done here, for example, is make a Sorcerer 5/Fighter 15 strictly better than a sorcerer 20 and a Sorcerer 5/Fighter 5/Binder 10 is strictly better than a Sorcerer 5/Fighter 15 (ok, maybe that was a bad example but the point stands :smalltongue:).

There should be some sort of balancing mechanism in here that rewards base class "purists" for their effort. Otherwise, anybody who doesn't multiclass or prestige class every 5 levels falls terribly behind in this system.

2010-10-13, 07:55 PM
That's some epic level necromancy there.


Realms of Chaos
2010-10-13, 07:58 PM
wow. Didn't even notice. :smalleek:

The Tygre
2010-10-13, 08:46 PM
Whoa. Me neither. I can't believe the Binder is already three years old...

Wait a sec.

That means I've been living without these feats for three years! HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN HOLDING THIS FROM ME?!

2010-10-13, 08:54 PM
The Mod They Call Me: Please no thread necromancy.