View Full Version : [3.5] Give *and* Take with Spellcasting PrCs

2008-06-24, 06:31 PM
I've done some thinking and it seems like prestige class offer a lot, especially for spellcasters, with virtually no drawback.

Now what I've been thinking is to make every spellcasting PrC lose at least one level, the first, in spellcasting. From there, each class has a spellcasting rating which is in inverse to the amount of goodies it provides:

Powerful Casting (1) - Lose level 1 (_XXXXXXXXX)
Flavorful classes, little change. Contemplative. Divine Oracle.

Strong Casting (2) - Lose level 1 and 6 (_XXXX_XXXX)
Offers some interesting abilities, but limited opportunities (such as blood magus, where you get those cool abilities but they still cost you); situational, where they excel in one or two special areas. Church Inquisitor. Shining Blade.

Average Casting (3) - Lose level 1, 5, and 9 (_XXX_XXX_X)
When in doubt... Also for dual-roles, like the Black Flame Zealot. Pale Master is somewhere between here and the previous. Master Specialist. Rainbow Servant. Sacred Exorcist. Sacred Fist/Enlightened Fist.

Skewed Casting (4) - Lose level 1, 4, 7, and 10 (_XX_XX_XX_)
Grants a number of powerful abilities; Radiant Servant of Pelor. Entropomancer, maybe average as it runs out of juice and is rather situational after all. Green Star Adept.

Poor Casting (5) - Lose every other level (_X_X_X_X_X)
Virtually a gestalt class... Maybe the RSoP. Planar Shepard. Initiative of the Sevenfold Veil.

Dual progression classes like MT are own their own for now; possibly - advance both, then arcane, then both, divine, both, arcane, and so on.

I've also realized how much stuff the Druid gets in addition to its casting, so I might split it up for my campaign setting; maybe as a spontaneous caster. I also want to grant Sorcerers a bit extra.

2008-06-24, 06:38 PM
The problem with making PrCs hurt spell casting, is that it discourages spell casters from taking them, which puts them in a spot where they have no class features at all beyond first level (Sorcerer, Cleric) or at least nothing to write home about (Wizard, Psion). The exception being Druid, who has more class features than any other class but like monk.

2008-06-24, 07:27 PM
The prestige classes are not too good and should not be changed. The problem lies with the fact that most spellcasting classes have no meaningful class features beyond the first level, so staying with the base class instead of taking a prestige class ends up being a bad decision. A few spellcasting classes like Druid and Dread Necromancer have good class features spread throughout the class and you actually see people staying with them all the way to 20. Characters who use Cloistered Cleric or Beguiler in order to be skillmonkeys will stay single-classed because very few prestige classes would make them better at both of their chosen roles.

The problem with most spellcasting classes is the fact that everything about the class other than spellcasting: the BAB, the saves, the HD, the skills, cannot get any worse by taking a prestige class, because they're already as bad as they can get. Prestige classes are not too good, there is no drawback to taking them because there is no possible advantage in staying single-classed. You should not try to punish players who want something better by making the prestige classes less desirable, and making the base classes better would only serve to further unbalance the game.

A character's class(es) shows how they progress through their adventuring profession. A spellcaster who only sticks to the base class with almost no class features is like someone who only gets an Associate's in their profession. Going something like Base Class 5/ PrCA 10/ PrCB 5 would be like getting a Master's in their profession. There is nothing wrong with a characer wanting to excel in their area of study and learn more about being a better adventurer. Accept the situation for what it is, because there aren't any reasonable solutions to the perceived problem.

2008-06-24, 10:09 PM
I agree with Biffoniacus' identification of the problem, alright - the base classes don't have enough stuff to be worth single-classing - but I don't agree with his conclusion. (And, for the record, I also believe that there are some prestige classes that are too good and need to be changed; incantatrix comes to mind, or level one of mindbender.)

Namely, I believe that one *can* beef up the base classes without losing any balance. The basic argument goes like this: Nobody will ever run, for example, sorcerer 20 if they've got even one full casting prestige class to take. Therefore, if we revise sorcerer so it starts getting prestige-class-like abilities starting at, say, level 7, we haven't actually changed the game balance any.

In effect, what we've done is made a 14 level prestige class called "sorcerer", and made its pre-req be "sorcerer level 6". Now, what powers should this grant? That's up to you, and should probably be set based on what sorcerers are in your setting. I have my own version, of course, but it's certainly not the "right" version.

My own version:
Sorcerer gets 4+ skill points and has diplomacy, gather information, disguise, and use magic device as in class skills.

They also gain a spell-like ability usable once per day at level seven (and a new one every four levels thereafter).
This ability may be chosen from any spell available to a wizard or bard of their sorcerer level, a druid of their sorcerer level minus two, or cleric of their level minus four.
This is explicitly based on levels of the sorcerer base class - prestige class levels do not grant further spell like abilities, nor allow higher level abilities to be chosen if more levels of sorcerer are taken at a later time. Caster level of these abilities is equal to the total sorcerer caster level of the character, including any prestige classes, however.

An ability, once chosen, is fixed; it may only be replaced if the sorcerer picks up a new, higher level, spell-like ability that completely supercedes it (GM discretion). For example, a sorcerer takes cure moderate wounds (1/day) at level seven. Later, at level 15, she takes heal. Since heal is in all ways better than cure moderate, she may replace the lower level ability with a new spell-like ability of the same level: sorcerer/wizard 4, bard / druid 3, or cleric 2.

Cleric and wizard are, I will admit, slightly trickier cases. I suspect the best way to deal with cleric is to remove the "Divine Power" spell - or give it the same sorts of drawbacks as Tenser's Transformation. Once done, you suddenly have rather more room to work with in giving the class some bonuses. Wizard... No, I don't have a solution I like for wizard yet, sorry. Fortunately, nobody I play with wants to play a wizard, so I haven't had to worry about it yet. :smallwink:

I'd also add that caster classes aren't the only classes with this kind of problem. Fighter and paladin in particular could use some kind of juicy higher-level abilities.

2008-06-24, 10:26 PM
I'm actually going to agree with the OP, in principle. The spellcasting classes already do have a wide variety of class features, spread out over many levels. They're called spells. The problem is that so many prestige classes give those same varied class features, plus some others. So if we want to make a reason to not take a prestige class, then we should take away a little of the class features the base class already had.

That said, I don't think that the hybrid classes like Mystic Theurge need any changes. You already need to give up some casting levels to get your other class to qualify, and you're in for a rude surprise in ten levels, when you suddenly can't progress all of your abilities any more. Take away too much more, and you're back in the situation where you might as well just alternate levels of the base classes.

2008-06-25, 03:11 AM
I disagree for the most part, unless there are balance issues with the specific prestige classes the solution Maerok suggests only serves to discourage players from creating diverse characters. Think about non caster prestige classes, Fighter prestige classes don't lose Bab just because they already offer fighters pretty much what they would get from their base class with no draw backs. I don't see why wizarding prestige classes should have drawbacks either.

Keld Denar
2008-06-25, 07:39 AM
wait wait wait....RSoP is overpowered? Like, are you serious? The main advantage of RSoP is that it doesn't really lose anything other than a single hp per level over a regular cleric, and gains a couple of minor perks. Seriously, the best class features of RSoP are probably the extra greater turnings (if you are in an undead heavy campaign) and the bonus domain. The free metamagics are only applicable on 6/9 spells in the Healing domain, and thus only a couple times a day on the feature. And don't give me that spontaneous domain BS, its a spell on the domain list, not a domain spell. The perks don't outway the fact that its still full casting. If you took away 1-2 levels of casting from RSoP, it would suddenly fall into that catagory of PrCs that sound kind of interesting, but no one ever plays because they should have been printed in the sourcebook "Complete Crap".

You wanna look at PrCs that are OP, take a look at ones like Ordained Champ from CC or RKV from ToB. Classes that lose CLs and still make the top PrCs list. I bet that if Iot7V lost a CL at 1, people would still take it, because its good. Same with Incantrix. Not so with RSoP.