View Full Version : Guidelines to Creating Disciplines for ToB?

2007-07-10, 11:28 AM
I've been thinking about creating some new disciplines and new maneuvers for ToB such as for archery disciplines and what not but then I'm not quite sure if there are any good balancing guidelines that I should follow for it.

Anybody have any suggestions as to tips on calibrating the discipline and maneuvers?

2007-07-10, 11:31 AM
There is only one guideline: Compare to existing disciplines. It is all judgmental. If your unsure, post it up on the forum.

With that in mind, here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=48255) is an example of 8 custom ones.

Fax Celestis
2007-07-10, 11:32 AM
And two (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10707) others. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=45205)

2007-07-10, 12:30 PM
hmmm... how about that. People have already done archery disciplines. I think I'm going to hold off on actually creating them and digesting these first.

I have some general design philosophy questions though:

1. A while back, I created a martial art school that requires, in so many words, dancing weapons. (mostly psionics would work with it) I ended up with several different builds, each one with a different flavor fluff attached to it. It's a good a solution on paper until I actually had to start making stats for them. The end result of this was I had to compile a lot of books together in order to do this properly. That's fine and dandy and all but it is still just kind of a pain in the butt. For that reason, I was considering of just making it into a discipline that way I only have to bring one document as oppose 5 different books. Do you guys think this is a good idea?

2. if yes to question 1, a more pertinant question. Seeing as the existing mechanics can be done mostly through psionic and psychic weapon master, do you think it wise to re-create these in the form disciplines for the sake of simplicity?

The following questions are implementation ideas:

1. discipline built off of other disciplines: I_Got_This_Name's post got me thinking about the idea "introductory disciplines". What if there are disciplines where in order to start learning moves from it, you have to first learn maneuvers from different disciplines first? They would kind of act like PrCs for discplines.
so, for example, say we have a discipline called "The Sublime Sword" or some such. However, the easiest maneuver to learn from that school still requires you have at least 2 maneuvers from say, Diamond Mind and Setting Sun and an initiator level of 7 or some such. Do you think this would work?

2. re-kajiggering disciplines: What if instead of creating all new maneuvers, I simply just take exist maneuvers and just re-orgnanize them into new disciplines?

Fax Celestis
2007-07-10, 12:59 PM
"Prestige disciplines" is a nifty idea indeed.

2007-07-10, 01:11 PM
another thing I'm trying to wrap my head around with this Prestige Descipline concept is how necessary is it. After all, most of the discipline maneuvers work together easily enough.

i.e. one of the ideas I had was a discipline that would combine aspects of the setting sun (a defensive discipline) with diamond mind (a speed discipline) or iron mind discipline (a precision discipline) and then call it Tai Chi Sword Discipline, where the character doesn't aim to be faster or stronger than his opponent, but rather be more efficient and precise by reading his foes every move.

It all sounds pretty cool on paper, but in practice I'm not certain if I should just make characters who are of the Tai chi sword discipline take Iron Heart and Setting Sun and just call it a day.

2007-07-10, 03:16 PM
1. A while back, I created a martial art school that requires, in so many words, dancing weapons. (mostly psionics would work with it) I ended up with several different builds, each one with a different flavor fluff attached to it. It's a good a solution on paper until I actually had to start making stats for them. The end result of this was I had to compile a lot of books together in order to do this properly. That's fine and dandy and all but it is still just kind of a pain in the butt. For that reason, I was considering of just making it into a discipline that way I only have to bring one document as oppose 5 different books. Do you guys think this is a good idea?

I at one point wanted a character with a dancing weapon-like fighting style. In the end, I created The Kineticist (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=33967) and associated feats. Sadly, the game fell apart before I actually got to play it so I have yet to play test the class.

2007-07-11, 09:59 AM
I like this PrC you made. The fluff doesn't quite fit but I like the basic idea.

2007-07-11, 01:22 PM
Actually that would be a base class.

2007-07-11, 03:35 PM
*smacks self on side of head*

oops, typo.

2007-07-11, 04:03 PM
I made a discipline myself here http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=40885.

For a Prestige discipline, would you start at a level higher than 1, eg having maneuvres only of levels 4-9? Otherwise you're gaining power very quickly over 10 levels of a Prc.

On the converse side, maybe a 'lesser' discipline should only have maneuvres going up to level 6 or so, if its a lesser discipline it would make sense to not have so many higher forms.

Now we just need more psionic disciplines...

2007-07-11, 04:49 PM
Wow. I am so bokmarking this thread. 10 and counting homebrew disciplines and a discussion on balancing homebrew disciplines.

2007-07-12, 09:47 AM
I made a discipline myself here http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=40885.

For a Prestige discipline, would you start at a level higher than 1, eg having maneuvres only of levels 4-9? Otherwise you're gaining power very quickly over 10 levels of a Prc.

On the converse side, maybe a 'lesser' discipline should only have maneuvres going up to level 6 or so, if its a lesser discipline it would make sense to not have so many higher forms.

Now we just need more psionic disciplines...

The way I see it, prestige discipline shouldn't require that you get into a PrC to get. Then I might as well just make it a PrC like in the rest of the ToB and be done with it. The idea behind a prestige discipline is basically that it's just another discipline you can pick but only when you've satisfied the maneuver requirements from other schools. So, in essence, while you can potentially have a prestige discipline start at level 4 maneuvers, it doesn't HAVE to be. (After all, you are not obligated to pick the highest level maneuver possible whenever you gain a new one.)

So, let's take my Tai Chi Blade discipline again, one of the maneuvers might look like this:

Sticky Blade

Tai Chi Blade (strike)
Level: Swordsage 2,
Prerequisite: Any one Diamond Mind maneuvers and any one setting sun maneuvers
Initiation Action: standard attack action
Range: melee
Target: one opponent

To initiate this maneuver, make a single touch attack against your target. If you hit, make a sense motive check against your foes bluff check. (they may use their BAB in place of their bluff skill bonus) For every 4 points you exceed your foes' check, you gain a +1 dodge bonus against this foe, and a +1 to hit for the remainder of the round.

This bonus disappears the moment you stop threatening your foe in melee.

The discipline itself will also have a description, obviously. But as you can see, this particular maneuver is really not all that different from the normal discipline manuevers. you just have a different requirements to get the first, low level maneuver.

2007-07-12, 11:10 AM
Seeing as I wanted to take some time to read over people's work and not re-invent the wheel if needed, I've take the liberty to just copy n paste everybody here's work into a single word doc. It's just a quick CnP job though so it's pretty unorganized.
discipline_compilation.doc (http://www.hotlinkfiles.com/files/127586_ls6ns/discipline_compilation.doc)

2007-07-13, 03:30 PM
Your link doesn't work; it wants people to log in to another forum for it.

Now, as for how to balance disciplines:
Step 1: What do you want it to do? Find a niche that another (ToB) discipline hasn't already taken. Nothing in the ToB does archery, making that very popular (there are at least two archery disciplines called Falling Star that I know of, and my True Arrow from my eight. I'll be referencing them a lot, since I know the design thoughts behind them). Sometimes you might end up with something similar to another discipline; differentiate it in some important way. Leaping Gale, from my eight disciplines project, for instance, focuses on mobility and skirmish tactics (a la Desert Wind), but has a lot of jumps (similar to Tiger Claw), is better at flying than DW, and uses electricity for its elemental damage.

Step 2: Class Assignment. Decide which classes get it. If you're using my training variation rules, decide what disciplines it can replace for which classes. In general, if it's supernatural, or works on perfection of technique, or anything similar, the Swordsage gets it. That covers 2/3 of the disciplines in ToB for a good reason; the 'sage is supposed to be versatile. If your not sure about whether or not Swordsages should use your discipline, give it to them (unless it's like Iron Heart). If it's completely martial, could be used with a brute force approach or by a brute force warrior, and is completely non-supernatural, it's a Warblade discipline. The Crusader's disciplines are about being tough enough and competent enough to lead from the front, and to make sure that the guy behind you, and the guy next to you, are safe.

That said, I've broken a few of these rules in my eight. Glacial Chill is very supernatural, and yet the Warblade can trade for it. This is because, tactically, it fits my image of a Warblade better than a Swordsage. Rending Scream is actually easier for a Warblade to get than a Swordsage, since the Swordsage has to spend a feat on it (anyone can spend a feat on Martial Study to get a non-thematic maneuver from anywhere, so if someone has to spend a feat on a discipline, they might as well not have it for theme concerns), but, once again, it's more a Warblade's style than a Swordsage's, even if it is supernatural.

When I was setting up the trades, I didn't really concern myself with the balance (it's not a balance issue, except for, say, the Master of Nine's prerequisites, which don't work as intended if you start giving away extra disciplines to the Warblade, or, to a lesser extent, the Crusader). If there was a discipline that was opposite the new discipline, thematically, it was the first to be tradeable. Next came disciplines that were similar, but not overlapping (Viper Fang and Shadow Hand are too similar for anyone to want VF and get rid of SH); finally, if nothing else fit, I went to class-specific disciplines. Don't worry about trades, though; a new discipline can be dropped in for free with little or no impact; after all, casters don't have to trade away portions of their spell list for access to parts of the Spell Compendium although that might be a decent way to curb the abuses

Step 3: Design maneuvers. This is the big step; set up maneuvers related to the discipline's specialty. There are a number of concerns here.

Is it balanced with existing maneuvers?
These should be on par with existing maneuvers; no trike should do more damage than another of its level already published, except maybe under very odd circumstances (the Crack the Ice/Shatter the Ice/Ice Cleaver line in Glacial Chill are ridiculously powerful damaging maneuvers, but you have to nearly kill your enemy with cold damage in the previous round first), nor should it cause a more dehabilitating status effect (or boost you better) than another of its level.

Is this a level-appropriate ability?
A maneuver should be significant against level-appropriate challenges when you first get it, but should not be a fight ender (or should have a good chance of not ending the fight. See Feral Death Blow), and a boost (or stance, or counter) should continue to be useful afterward; for some reason you're expected to trade out strikes, but not boosts or counters. Likewise, to avoid outshining the Wizard or Cleric, a maneuver should be weaker than a same-level spell; you recover your top-end maneuvers with a full-round action, at most; the casters get one per battle.

Is it thematic?
If a maneuver doesn't fit the discipline's theme, it's gone. If it steps too heavily on the toes of another discipline, it's gone. Maneuvers that are exactly the same as others, though, aren't necessarily bad (Leaping Gale has maneuvers that clone both Sudden Leap and Wind Stride at its first level), since a clone counts differently for prerequisites; besides, Devoted Spirit has a good number of clones (Vanguard Strike and Foehammer, to name two). Likewise, if a maneuver is subtly different (Masked Moon has two of Diamond Mind's save counters, on a different skill). Still, you wouldn't put a fire damage maneuver in a new discipline (it belongs in Desert Wind) without a very good reason.

A word of caution when setting up your theme here: don't add new maneuvers that are more powerful than others of the same level (but still less powerful than what a primary caster can do once per day at that level), just because they're in theme for your discipline. Aerial Leap (Leaping Gale) is not significantly better than Sudden Leap (Tiger Claw); it adds double-jump capability, and that's it. This isn't even that much; swift actions are a subset of free actions, so, if a free action can be taken while moving (or, say, jumping), one can use Sudden Leap to double-jump better than Aerial Leap. A good number of DMs won't allow this, though, and with good (flavor) reasons.

There are, of course, a few maneuvers whose levels were assigned for flavor/aesthetic reasons. The Diamond Mind save counters (Moment of Perfect Mind, Action Before Thought, Mind Over Body) are a good example of these; reflex is the least-important save, followed by fortitude, with will being the most important (fail a reflex save and take more damage than you would otherwise; fail a fort save and die, fail a will save and kill your teammates); if a will save is balanced for 1st level, they all are. They were put on different levels, and in the order they were, for aesthetic and thematic reasons; Diamond Mind focuses on thought first, speed second, and fortitude behind that.

Is it supernatural?
Decide whether or not to make the maneuver supernatural. This decision should primarily be made with the discipline; is the discipline going to have a lot of supernatural powers or not? If the discipline is going to be a Warblade discipline, you'll probably want to keep the supernatural stuff down, possibly to the point of scrapping maneuvers because you can't make them extraordinary. Most of the eight I made have a lot of supernatural stuff, due to their design origins; Glacial Chill, Leaping Gale, Rending Scream, and Viper Fang were made to fill the design void left by only covering one energy type, and energy damage is almost always supernatural (especially when people are doing it without items); Falling Wave had to involve some supernatural powers to let you breathe water in it ever, so adding on the ability to summon water elementals to flank/grapple for you doesn't stretch credibility, while Leaping Gale (again) was about flying. Masked Moon is shapeshifting, shapeshifting, and more shapeshifting. That leaves Silver Pegasus and True Arrow; one of them has nothing supernatural, and one of them has, I believe, two and a half supernatural maneuvers.

Step 4: The rest. The original disciplines had one or two feats, plus one Tactical feat, each, and had or shared a prestige class. Then, of course, there are the legacy weapons.

Now, with regards to the Prestige Disciplines idea: It's unconventional; I like it. Generally, though, the discipline names are pure fantasy, instead of drawing on names of RL martial arts; other than that, the idea of disciplines that have prerequisites of maneuvers from other disciplines seems good.

You would probably want to drop the 1st level, at the very least, though, since, in most cases, 1st level maneuvers don't have prerequisites. Then again, you're already designing something un

Would you continue to require development of the foundation disciplines (for instance, would your ninth-level PrD maneuver require, say, some number Prestige Discipline maneuvers only, or, say, a few maneuvers (about three each, for example) from the prestige discipline and each of the two foundation disciplines.

2007-07-13, 07:44 PM
wow that was a monster post I_got_this_Name. Let me take some time to dissect and reply properly.

The Link: My apologies. I was just trying to find a place to store files so people can grab it. I completely forgot that you need to log in to get it. I'll find a different place to put it once I get around to it. (And if I extra time, I'll try to organize it as well so it's easier to reference)

As far as the PrDs go, I think asking the character to maintain their requirements and continue to meet the PrD's requirements is not too much to ask. After all, we wouldn't let someone who no longer has the use of power attack to take cleave. The same principle should apply here, me thinks. So, say we have discipline C as a PrD, and the basic reqs for it is 2 maneuvers from discipline A and B at any given time. even if you continue to switch out maneuvers from discipline C, (and eventually get the level 9 maneuvers that have requirements like, 4 other discpline C maneuvers) you still need to maintain the minimal of 2 manuevers from discpline A and B.

this has several effects. The most important of all is that if adepts want to pursue a PrD, they would have to devote a certain amount of their maneuvers towards their root discipline. To show a certain level of specialization, I think is a good thing when it comes to PrDs.

I also have another concept that just sprung up from this though. the way requirements are set up now learning a new maneuver is all numbers based. So, as long as you know the right number of maneuvers from a certain discipline, you're generally able to learn the new, next most powerful one. We get a case of people swapping out maneuvers as a result of this. (there is nothing wrong with this though, as often the maneuvers they swap out are merely more powerful versions of the older moves) However, we're talking about specialization here. So I thought it would be interesting to introduce another design concept: Combo Maneuvers.

The idea here is that there is a base maneuver that you must know in order to further the art, representing the continuing refining of the basics. Additional maneuvers that you learn afterwards merely build upon it.

Mechanically, it would work out like this. say you learn maneuver 1 and maneuver 2 from discpline school C. Maneuver 2 on it's own is useless... until you've successfully initiated maneuver 1. in which case, if you know maneuver 2, and fulfill the existing conditions, you may initiate maneuver 2, and use up another readied maneuver as a follow-up.

so, say we have a maneuver called "rope bind" where you strike out with your ropes/strings and attempt to tie up the enemy, dealing whatever damage and grappling them. you can also learn a follow-up maneuver called "rope throw" where you can use the rope to launch your foe in a certain direction. if you successfully launched your foe in the right direction, you may learn "rope strike" where you manipulate your foe via the rope straight into your unarmed blow. As the crowning of all this, you might learn of a move known as the "demon bounded izumi drop" where you combine the strike, the throw and add a body slam at the end of the entire combo. of course, each maneuver might have it's own set of exception conditions that allows you to launch straight into the maneuver. i.e. if your foe is already entangled in some fashion with normal rope use, then you can go straight into "rope throw" as opposed to starting with the "rope bind" attack.

sounds interesting or full of badly made crack?

2007-07-13, 11:48 PM
changed the file link and inserted table of contents into document

2007-07-16, 11:57 AM
Using the concept of "combo maneuvers", I want to bounce this discipline off of you guys and see if you think this will have enough material to fill out a whole discipline.

Tong Jing (Base off of Xinyi Quan, for all you Kungfu buffs out there)

Many times, the simplest solution is often the best one. This is not just a saying to the Tong Jing discpline. It's truth to live by.

While many martial art systems teach an expansive and comprehensive amount of knowledge, moves, maneuvers, and philosophy, Tong Jing bases itself entirely around 5 different movements. The idea is that if one can take any one motion and master it, that move will be all one would ever need.

This very reductionist notion permeates throughout this school and it is clearly reflected in the movesets they teach.

Pi, Zuan, Beng, Pao, Heng, these are the five words used to describe each strike. Roughly translated, it becomes the 5 actions: splitting fist, drill fist, shattering fist, cannon fist, and the crossing fist. Each one combined with the other creates a system that is easy to pick up but hard to master.

This is not to say that the school does not encourage creativity, but rather they believe that creativity should be guided and controlled rather than let run wild like an untamed horse. The basics are what will keep such creativity grounded and applicable.

However, there is no denying it that as a school with reductionism philosophies, the path to mastering the Tong Jing discipline is a rather straight forward, if narrow one. As such, the only preferred weapons of this school are unarmed strikes and tonfas.

The school characterizes itself as being a grounded style with minimal flare but maximum effectiveness and destructive power. Movements are often simple, straight forward, and steady like a rock. However, unlike the Stone Dragon discipline, there is far less emphasis on protection and endurance as there is on making every miniscule movement count for its maximal affect. As such, the correlated skill to the Tong Jing discipline is Balance.

Thus far, I havenít actually written up each individual maneuver. However, I will be basing the entire school off of those 5 basic strikes and then having more maneuvers that build off of it. (In essence, to use any of the chains, you have to keep all the basic maneuvers from the first level)

The first level will have the basic 5 moves that give a little bonus but nothing more.

The second level and so on will start building upon these 5 and depending upon the success or failure of each maneuver, you can follow up with another maneuver set.

2007-07-29, 08:54 AM
Interesting Thread. I'm not sure I am on board with the idea of Prestige Disciplines, but I wouldn't reject it out of hand either.

My main gripe with Tome of Battle Disciplines is how none Tome of Battle Classes acquire and use them. A lot of Manoeuvres are simply Feats in disguise, which is quite annoying.