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Sooth
2017-03-29, 11:56 PM
Hello friends,

Here is a prestige class based on the Blue Oyster Cult song of the same name.

All feedback is welcome and appreciated; while the class is theoretically done, I feel like it is missing something and could use a fresh perspective. Thanks in advance!

Veteran of the Psychic Wars (aka Eternal Champion) (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zDgYqyEQih2KSOnLa1qjxP3wafzY5Wf1Im8a7kw4GSI/edit?usp=sharing)

aimlessPolymath
2017-03-31, 05:16 PM
Hey;

Quick review.

I like the class design, feels a lot like the Chameleon but for PF.
Stat prereq is unusual- it's more common to require a feat which then has the relevant prereq. I might make up a feat to then be the prereq, maybe something neutrality oriented, or related to the whole "chosen" thing you have going on?

Adventurer's Virtuosity is OMGWTF good due to bonus feat.
As an example, I could use the bonus feat to take Fluidity of Rememberance, choose whatever type of incarnation I needed at the time, and take a swift action to switch from Adventurer's Virtuosity to the one I wanted.
August Leadership is a letdown after that. Small bonuses, not a great upgrade at L5. Needs more effect.
Eldrich Arts is pretty good! Not too OP thanks to spell-list selection, spell-like ability model (which nicely mimics prepared casting, in a way!), but spellcasting is a very good Incarnation. Could maybe use a spells/day drop for lower-leveled spells?
Enforcer of Balance is a little bit of a letdown after that. Just a little. Still, the best straight combat incarnation thanks to AC, attack, damage.
Rugged Gunslinger is fine. Could use a L5 upgrade- Gun Training 1?
Scoundrel could get pretty good, but rogue talents are generally not overpowered.
Spellbreaker is weak, needs an upgrade. Spell Sunder is nice, but sundering requires a certain amount of supporting feats to be reliable (note that you need to beat the CMD by 10 to dispel completely!), which doesn't work great for a generalist. Furthermore, the save bonus is weak, given that the class has all good saves already.
Stormbringer is nice! Should be "this supernatural ability functions", to make it more melee-friendly.
Best ones: Adventurer's Virtuosity, Eldritch Arts, and Scoundrel, in that order.

Fluff of the class is weak. They're supposed to be a "veteran", but their class abilities and fluff are completely unrelated to being one. Also, Law vs. Chaos is a rarely depicted conflict, which the class does little to explain or affect- the class abilities look more like alignment-based discrimination than anything particularly "balance"-y. Balance is a traditionally Law-related concept, too, so the conflict needs more explanation.

Also also, I knew I heard the name of this somewhere (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?455385-Veteran-of-the-Psychic-Wars-(PrC-Grab-bag-XXIII-contestant))...

Sooth
2017-04-04, 12:14 AM
Hey there, good to see you again! Thanks for the feedback.

Ok, round of changes is done. They include:

- Explained some more of the lore behind the song
- Changed prerequisites, though I'm iffy on what I decided upon (wanted to try and pick an already-existing feat, but the selections aren't great, though feel free if you'd like to write/suggest one)
- Nerfed adventurers virtuosity
- Buffed warrior of renown and renamed it to cold rage, buffed spellbreaker, august leadership
- Changed rugged gunslinger a little
- Added heroic defender incarnation
- Added Eternal Memoirs class feature
- Changed Ward of Balance so itís both weaker and also no longer blocks spells from your allies (probably)
- Made incarnations Su by default

aimlessPolymath
2017-04-04, 12:51 AM
The essential power of Adventurer's Virtuosity- that is, having a choosable bonus feat- is still around. One simple abuse would be to select Fluidity of Rememberance(Eldritch Arts) -> pick out some spells you like -> use a swift action to change to Eldritch Arts -> you now have whatever spells you like, using an incarnation which you never needed to select.
Suggestion: Only allow feats with no non-stat, non-skill, non-feat prerequisites. This makes the class more of a generalist, and I suspect it gives a wide variety of unusual feats without allowing abuse in the form of Extra X feats (like Extra Talent for rogues, for example).

On prerequisites:
I'm suggesting making up a feat with the given ability prereqs and using it as a requirement.
Example:
Arbitrator(General)
You can intuitively find the balance in all things.
Prerequisites: Nonlawful, nonchaotic, Int 13 or Wis 13.
Benefits:
You gain a +2 bonus to Balance and Sense Motive checks. If you have 10 or more ranks in one of these skills, double the bonus for that skill to +4.

Or something.
August Leadership looks decent. Not a first pick, but it has it's place now.
Cold Rage scales too far with level. One level dip for net +4 attack is pretty good- I suggest reducing the cap to +3, buffed back to +5 at 5th level.
Rugged Gunslinger looks okay.
Heroic Defender might want a similar scaling cap to Cold Rage. Temp hit points are gained when you enter the incarnation? Not great- consider DR instead. Also less troubling interactions with Fluidity of Rememberance.
Eternal Memoirs looks fine.
Spellbreaker has very good utility.

What I'd like to know about is what Law and Chaos are fighting about? This isn't a conflict that gets a lot of press compared to, say, Good and Evil. The idea of there being a "balance" between the two is somewhat confusing, since (again) "balance" is traditionally associated with Law. However, class abilities are somewhat more Chaos-oriented- improvisation and changability is more traditionally associated with Chaos. Would like to see your thoughts on what this has to do with that balance.

What are the Psychic Wars?

Lastly, typo in flavor text:

seeks to prevent the dominance power

Sooth
2017-04-05, 05:02 AM
Ahhh, okay. My first instinct was to assume the Fluidity-Virtuosity cheese wouldn't be possible since you'd be removing the incarnation that gave you the new incarnation to begin with, but it's at least in that fuzzy, technical area enough that it should be addressed.

Good catch on the scaling bonuses. I dropped them to +2 base and put their scaling back in at 5th level.
Not sure what an appropriate amount of DR would be, but I went with 5, since that's both formidable and also relatively easy to get by ~10 HD.

So the actual reason for the whole Law vs Chaos thing is because of the backstory of the song, which is a reference to Michael Moorcock works, in which the protagonist is basically the same character reincarnated endlessly for that grand conflict. These are the "Psychic Wars" in question, though I have considered simply calling the class "Eternal Champion" (which is the reincarnated figure that the song is about). I haven't actually read any of his works outside of Elric, so my ability to meaningfully delve into its nature from that universe is limited to what I can glean from cursory online research.

That being said however, it does seems to me that the D&D timeline offers its own long and rich history of conflict between Law and Chaos. Creatures such as the Modrons of Mechanus have been trying to enforce cosmic order since 1st Edition AD&D. The Proteans of Pathfinder used to rule the multiverse (so they claim), and now they want to tear it down and reduce it to pure chaos. The relevance or prominence of this conflict will vary from campaign to campaign. In the Planescape setting this conflict is equally relevant as Good vs Evil; in Faerun / Golarion / Greyhawk / the Prime Material plane / etc it's more of an abstract, down-played in a lot of modern campaigns, but still deeply rooted in the multiverse at large.

I see "balance" in the Dungeons & Dragons sense as being related to Neutrality - in this case, Neutrality on the Law vs Chaos scale: that is, not necessarily indifference but of preventing an excess of dominance by either Law or Chaos. "Extreme order" is an actual thing in the D&D-verse that isn't balanced at all, it looks very different from the balance of alignments offered in the Prime Material Plane. Granted, all of this only makes sense if you accept the D&D cosmology of Law and Chaos being real, tangible things that influence magic and which literally have their own worlds and armies/overlords who are actively trying to tear down the rest of the universe to make it like their own reality.

I see what you mean about fluidity generally being a thing associated with Chaos. That mechanical principle of this class doesn't seem to align with the flavor of being "balance." I'm not sure how to best reconcile that, since I'm invested both in the adaptability mechanic and also the background behind it. The best I can think of is to reinforce the notion that the character is not necessarily a willing champion of balance, and that the thematic reason for the versatility is entirely because they are accessing skill sets from past lives. Although, that sort of creates a conflict whereby I am both trying to establish a flavor and shuffle it under the rug at at the same time.

aimlessPolymath
2017-04-05, 12:15 PM
Alright, I'll give you the Law vs. Chaos battle... I'm just curious about the ideology involved in the conflict; Good vs. Evil has a clear moral conflict of "one side wants to do bad things, the other thinks that bad things are bad", but Law vs. Chaos isn't as ideologically explored in D&D- the conflict of free will vs. societal responsibility often comes down on the side of the PCs.
Furthermore, the conflict isn't as relatable as "these people are going to kill people- we're going to stop them". That's a Good opinion, regardless of whether the people you want to stop are evil, lawful, or chaotic. What I'm having trouble with are who these Lawful and Chaotic people are and


There are two things going on with this class (three if you count the name)- a champion of neutrality, and someone who takes on the powers of previous incarnations.

The second theme is very strong, but I think the first one is weak, and they don't naturally fit together in a single PrC, either.
The main problem with the first theme, I think, is that there's no real associations with it- you could easily switch law or chaos with good and evil, and so not only does the class tell me relatively little about the conflict, it doesn't interact well with it, either.
Law and Chaos don't really have very strong mechanical themes to bring into the class, either.

One of the usable themes that I can think of is variance manipulation- Chaos has a lot of rerolls in the form of luck feats and such, while Law has the most abilities that take 10 on rolls. One ability I once saw involved giving penalties and bonuses to d20 rolls in order to adjust their minimum and maximum to 15 to 5 (Law) or 25 to -5 (Chaos). The main theme here is enforcing or reducing the "natural order" of rolls- limiting or increasing the effect of luck. In the first case, a peasant can never touch an armored knight, and will be struck down almost always. In the second, the peasant has a real fighting chance.

So, what about some kind of "finger on the balance of fate" ability? Something like the Wheel of Time ability from that cleric PrC? Could give it 2-4 modes:

-Negate rerolls.
-Negate abilities that let you replace rolls with skill checks or static numbers.
-Push the variance of a roll up: Give it a +2 bonus if the roll is 12 or greater, or give it a -2 penalty if it is lower than 8. Double this if it is 16 or greater, or 4 or lower. (a less clunky version of the bonus/penalty thing I mentioned)
-Push the variance of a roll down: The same, but the other way.

Other themes I found which might get used:
Law is linked to melee attacks, Chaos to ranged attacks. See the Incarnate Soul (name?) soulmeld.
Law is linked to compulsion effects where you dictate the effect, Chaos to compulsion effects where the result is random.
Law is linked to teamwork and teamwork feats (see: Cavalier grants teamwork feats), Chaos to morale bonuses (see: bard, barbarian).
So two other things the class could do would be to negate teamwork feats or aid another checks, and to negate morale bonuses.

Alternatively, to focus on the idea of balance in conflicts, I could see it have some arbitration-type or fairness abilities to "even up" a battle.

This all might be a bit much, and take away from the general mechanisms of the class, though- the feature which takes the most priority when I look at the class is clearly the Incarnations. I think there's room for

I would drop Guarded Mind or possibly Eternal Memoirs for this- there's a very limited amount of class space to work with in these levels, and there's not enough room to give those general effects if you want it to also be a champion of balance.

Peat
2017-04-08, 02:02 AM
The themes work for me, but then I know the song and know the books. I would also add that, as such, I don't see any particular need to reference the Champion's role as a servant of the Cosmic Balance in terms of mechanics.

Sooth
2017-04-08, 02:11 AM
Thanks, folks.

So I found the notion of a mechanic which plays with the entropy of dice-rolling to be a really compelling one. I don't think this is quite the class to go "all the way" with mechanics of that flavor, but I certainly wanted to try my hand at making something simple that might function along those lines both mechanically and thematically.

In light of all the other class features which dealt with either Balance or Incarnations or both, Guarded Mind seemed almost out of place -- something that only really made sense if you took the class title literally. So tentatively I put in Shifting Tides of Law and Chaos to replace Guarded Mind.