View Full Version : D&D Publishers' Attitudes to Magic

2008-02-15, 07:00 PM
I've been reading through some old 3.0 splat books, and it's amazing what they give casters in terms of PrCs, and borderline retarded what they give melee types.

For instance, in a Drow splat book, there's a PrC with minimum entry requirements (must be drow, half drow, or evil) and full casting. A 2 level dip lets you take 1 point of subdual damage for every DC you raise your spell by, up to 5. Called the Darksoul. Another PrC in there advances arcane casting 8 levels over 5 levels of PrC. A one level dip lets you pick up two caster levels. That is, a 7th level wizard takes a level in the class, and can now cast as a 9th level wizard. Caveat: d2 HD (heh), and have to make a concentration check of 12+(2xspell level) or take 2xspell level damage and make another conc check to keep the spell. Or check out what a 1 level dip in 3.0 Fatespinner got you. Give up a caster level to raise the DCs of your spells by up to 3? Hell yeah.

Then look at the PrCs for fighters and stuff. An extra 3d6 over ten levels? The ability to take a full round to deliver "one brutal blow that does 2d8", usable 1/day, at level 6 of the PrC?

I'm glad the game designers have figured out what they're doing wrong, for the most part (cough, IotSV, cough).

2008-02-15, 07:03 PM
There are some decent fighter PrCs in 3.0, lasher and master of chains come to mind.

Fax Celestis
2008-02-15, 07:06 PM
That was actually one of the big reasons for the 3.5e conversion: it was far too easy to get astronomical save DCs. There's actually a paragraph about it in the DMG, I think either in the "building classes" section or maybe in a sidebar near the Red Wizard PrC.

2008-02-15, 07:21 PM
There are some decent fighter PrCs in 3.0, lasher and master of chains come to mind.

I can think of only a handful; weapon master, cavalier, halfling outrider, if only because the latter progressed mount levels, which meant you were probably on a dragon or sommat doing triple lance damage at mid levels. Which is real solid. Disciple of Dispater was good, with all good saves, full BAB, and fairly solid class abilities. Warrior of Darkness had pretty stiff entry requirements, and you needed high charisma for it to work well, but it's capstone-ish ability was gaining something like pounce.

Master of chains was a pretty terrible PrC. Swing on chains? Wrap yourself in chains? Climb on chains? Ehhhh....

But in general, most melee PrC got absolute diddly. They'd even have sidebars explaining what makes them so great, and it's absolutely cringeworthy. Who cares when you're doing 2d6 more damage a round when you just burned feats on dodge, agile and mobility?

There's a PrC in Planescape that is essentially monk (virtually identical to monk), except that it requires those feats mentioned above. Maybe unarmed attack instead of mobility.

I'm just underwhelmed with the options given to melee classes. The only borderline thing I saw in like 3 hours of 3.0 perusal was a monk class that emulated dragons. First level ability let it make jump checks that gave it a fly speed with perfect maneuverability. At high levels, you could attack and move while hover jumping around. Total wuxia. Sure, savage species had some borked templates/classes in it, but imo, to keep up with a wizard who can boost the save on his spells by 8, feral anthropomorphic baleen whales are an absurd necessity.

Or the DM ignores all the blah blah blah in the PrC sidebars from the designers and tells the casters "no, those PrCs are waaaaay off limits."

ToB does a pretty good job in making it so the melee characters can actually contribute to a battle, even if it's some sort of bizarre, quasi-magical sword wiggling with goofy names (wolf climbs mountain? seriously?). And I really like Iron Heart Surge. It's like Wish, but it doesn't result in angry, angry outsiders rending your soft tissues.

2008-02-16, 05:51 AM
What it comes down to is that game designers, not only in D&D but in everything else, feel the need to restrict non-magical characters to abilities which seem plausible, but (for obvious reasons) have no such qualms about spellcasting.

The problem is compounded in D&D because the designers forget their own abstractions.

Designers are understandably unwilling to give a non-magically-enhanced fighter the ability to cut through a solid stone wall - say - which they could if they did enough damage. On the other hand they think nothing of giving a monster enough HP to survive a series of blows that could cut through a solid stone wall. Fighter abilities are always limited by the designers going "but how would he actually *do* that", magician abilities aren't.

Emperor Tippy
2008-02-16, 06:10 AM
The WotC's attitude to magic can be summed up in 1 word: Stupid.

The magic setting is just tacked on to most D&D settings with little attention paid to what it does to a world (Eberron is the best about this but it doesn't go far enough.

As for magic in general, spells seem to be created based on "Wouldn't it be cool if..." and then give it to a currently existing casting class.

In the later books the problem is that they are going a bit too far the other way and/or being far to unimaginative in what they do offer. Take the Truenamer for example.

It has an interesting mechanic and could be quite nice. But the utterances suck. Very, very badly. If they made all the current utterances no save, no SR then they would be ok and if they gave them some real utterances they would be ok. I mean look at the 9th level spell Unnaming from the same book. That should be a 6th level evolved mind maneuver. All of the Power Word and Holy Word spells should be turned into utterances.

2008-02-16, 11:00 AM
Fang of Lolth was decent enough at what it did, and provided pretty much the only way a non-caster could get decent extra attacks.

2008-02-17, 08:54 PM
Fang of Lolth was decent enough at what it did, and provided pretty much the only way a non-caster could get decent extra attacks.

Except the transformation into a hideous spider creature, yeah, it is pretty BA.

2008-02-17, 09:04 PM
Except the transformation into a hideous spider creature, yeah, it is pretty BA.

From my perspective, that's another plus. Go spider-thingy!

2008-02-17, 11:35 PM
Indeed, it's a common problem not just with D&D designers, but people on this forum too.

Go and read some of the responses to the Combat Focus feats link in my signature, apparently everyone in the world believes that melee types need to be balanced against each other and casters should be well above that.

"A feat that adds an extra attack! Way overpowered!"

"Wizards could do that multiple times a day at the same level..."

"BUt it's magic."

I jest at a few peoples expense, but I'm just trying to illustrate the point of this general view not just among designers, but the populus as well, no harm meant.