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    Apr 2009
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    Default Re: [3.5] Revising classes for fun and balance-ish (new Marshal, Swashbuckler, and mo

    Sorry I'm taking a while to respond, been really busy lately.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    I still think restricting Extra Granted Maneuver is a wise move balance-wise (and flavorful too), for now, but I could easily imagine that playtesting could prove me wrong and necessitate adding it back in.
    Yeah, I'll see how that goes. It's fairly strong already so it really depends.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    Medium BAB: I don't like it. I like to think of the Swashbuckler being exceedingly accurate with his attacks. But I have to admit, it makes sense mechanically as a way to discourage Power Attacking and a balance to the two good saves the class now gets. So I don't like it, but I don't have a better suggestion for now.
    Yeah, that's pretty much my thought exactly. Mechanical convenience.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    Good Fort/Ref saves: Yeah, ok. I still think a poor Fortitude save, backed up by the Mind Over Body maneuver, could be very flavorful, but I understand that the Swashbuckler's random recovery method makes that a very risky tactic. Unless you wanted to homebrew a feat -- in place of Extra Granted Maneuver? -- that lets certain Maneuvers always be Granted.
    That's an interesting concept, though I'm not sure how to restrict it so that you don't just use it to grant your damage dealers rather than save maneuvers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    But if Reflex save is Good, Grace shouldn't give a bonus to it anymore. Grace being a bonus to AC and Initiative should still be powerful enough, IMHO.
    Oversight; forgot to change that part in the post. That was not intended; fixed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    INT to Will saves seems very fitting. Again, though, kind of discourages the Swashbuckler from using Diamond Mind save-replacing Maneuvers as much as he could.
    Diamond Mind save maneuvers are a little too risky to rely on that much. That said, if you dump Int, you may still need Moment of Perfect Mind for Will saves. It's an option.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    Dashing Strike is rather powerful on a per-encounter basis, for a class that already gets full maneuver progression. But maybe it's ok, with its restrictions ... I guess I wouldn't take it out without playtesting first. Is there any reason not to restrict it to one-handed (or light) weapons?
    Good point, I'll do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    This class is still a ridiculously good one-level dip for many builds. Like, any Rogue.
    Like I said, doesn't really bother me that much. A Swordsage is probably even better for dips because of Shadow Hand and gets very similar things. Mostly, I just rely on Gentlemens' Agreement to prevent too much casual dipping. And it's not like rogues don't need the help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    So, the original Dragon Shaman class, weak as it was, was IMHO very much designed to be a Healer/Support class (or "Leader" in the 4e lexicon). A class that could theoretically fill the Cleric's role. With the way you've given it full BAB, Martial Weapon Proficiency, and taken away all Charisma dependence, I can only assume that you're trying to shift its focus towards being a true Tank/Melee type class (or "Defender" in 4e terms).
    Never really liked to think in terms of 4e roles, but I guess it's appropriate here. The problem is that it's pretty hard to make it a good "Leader" class without either A) make him boring to play, and/or B) make him overpowering. Just buffing his healing would turn him into a healbot, and that's never fun (for me at least), and buffing his auras can make him too strong if he's providing a constant +15 damage aura or something, and it still doesn't do much about the fun part.

    The best "Leader" archetype that's still fun to play should utilize White Raven maneuvers, which is exactly what I did with the marshal. I really don't want to retread old ground with the dragon shaman, and the only other way I can think of to provide variety as well as a party support focus involves giving him spellcasting, and that's really not what I'm going for here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    If that's so, then you might as well be decisive about it. Take away the Touch of Vitality, and re-evaluate which Auras are still really appropriate. Auras in general are very Leader-like, IMHO, in spite of precedents set by WoW Paladins.
    I don't like to shoehorn classes into specific roles though; I prefer just giving options. If someone wants to focus on combat with aura/healing support on the side, that's fine. If someone would rather be a healbot with decent melee ability when cornered, that works also.

    On that note, I'm thinking about returning Touch of Vitality to Charisma-dependent, but powering it a little more. To do that though, I'm going to need some other things that Charisma would be good for besides just Touch of Vitality, so it doesn't become an easily dumped ability. Maybe something to do with auras or Dragon Ally?

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    Overall I'm concerned that the new class is rather overpowered, if it has access to spells from Spell Compendium. A Spell-Compendium-wielding Ranger was already considered "just barely underpowered," and you've gone and improved the spellcasting progression, improved the Animal Companion, improved Favored Enemy, and improved Bonus Feat selection.
    It may have been "just barely underpowered' if you optimize it well, but an unoptimized ranger is barely above useless, since he is utilizing the two weakest combat styles in the game. The old animal companion was quite bad at anything but flanking, and he was almost always feat-starved before. First and foremost, I want to make it decent right off the bat, without needing too much optimization to at least be playable.

    I need playtesting to be sure, but it doesn't seem too strong compared to ToB and certainly not to casters. With skirmish, you're pretty much restricted to certain (very feat-intensive) methods of combat, like Manyshot and Bounding Assault, unless you manage to get some reliable form of swift-movement or something. The Favored Enemy bonuses generally aren't that strong except in specific instances, and the improved spellcasting progression probably just saves you money on a few extra Pearls of Power. The Bonus Feats give the biggest power boosts I think, and I'm reluctant to cut those since your combat styles are just too feat intensive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    I definitely approve of consolidating the list of Favored Enemies down to a reasonable selection. The Humanoid classification still needs work, yeah, but the system is already a big improvement.
    Yeah, that was one of my biggest gripes with the old ranger. Also, a lot of categories were often auto-picks and most were almost always ignored (Outsider [Evil] and Undead, for example, versus Humanoid [Gnome] or Ooze). I tried to make up for that by consolidating the less-picked ones as well as make the special abilities for the rarer categories better.

    And yeah, need a better split for humanoids. Not sure what would make sense, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    I didn't read all of the Favored Enemy type-specific effects carefully, I just skimmed; but I liked what I saw in general. Listing all of these effects sure makes the class long and complex, though; I don't suppose it would work to turn these special Favored Enemy effects into balanced Feats instead? Of course they would be added to the available Bonus Feat list.
    It's not that complex; just pick a category and get the ability related to that category. It's definitely long though. I'm not sure what you mean by turning them into feats though; most of the abilities are too weak to be feats (immunity to Frightful Presence, for example).

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    Natural Instinct (Blindsight) is ... wow. Blindsight is a very powerful effect, and doesn't feel very Ranger-y to me. I think I'd like Blindsense much better. Weaker, yes, but still quite powerful really.
    I see what you mean. Yeah, that does make sense; I'll change it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    I love Natural Instinct (Foresight) as a capstone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lilienthal View Post
    However, I agree with Draz74 that having both a Reflex-bonus from Grace and a good base save make him a tad overpowered. It also feels a bit contrived, mechanics-wise. I'm not sure how the distinction between Swordsage and Swashbuckler works out now that both get Blade Magic, but it seems to me like it makes more sense for the latter to have a strong fortitude save (as per the RAW). I have no idea if this also works fluff-wise though. Good base Reflex and a Grace bonus could probably work if Fort and Will saves were bad.
    Yeah, that was an oversight; forgot to edit it in the post. Sorry about that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lilienthal View Post
    I love the Dramatic abilities, especially the Dramatic Entry, the bonuses for puns in a feint and your wording of Dramatic Moment.
    Heh, thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lilienthal View Post
    Now, as for your ranger, it seems like you need to be a bit more careful with the way you word some of its abilities. For instance, Blindsight lacks the "in a natural environment" clause although the description of Natural Instinct already makes this redundant (I also agree that Blindsense would be better, both balance- and fluff-wise).
    It was already in the Natural Instinct description so I didn't add it into the Blindsight one. I can see the potential for confusion though, so I added it now, and switched to Blindsense instead.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lilienthal View Post
    I'm also confused by the abilities granted by Favored Enemy. It seems like some of these apply in general situations, while others only work against that type of enemy. I haven't studied them in great detail but that could make for a balance issue. It also seems like some of these abilities should only be used against a specific creature type but that you forgot to add that clause.
    I wanted abilities that are related to the specific enemies but can also potentially be useful even outside that group. I tried to balance it so that the less commonly-seen creatures (like Vermin) get better/more general abilities while more common creatures get more specific ones.

    And a lot of these are a bit of a stretch when it came to coming up with ideas, so suggestions are definitely welcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lilienthal View Post
    • +6
    • Vermin: I'm not sure how you're going to make this work fluff-wise.
    • Construct: I could see how you might do extra damage against constructs like this, but how are you going to do Bludgeoning damage with regular arrows against humanoids?
    I'm guessing you mean the +8 bonus for Vermin? It would probably be something like you're so used to fighting creatures that use poison or disease that you develop herbal remedies that give you immunity to them. For construct, it would be just firing your arrows in a certain way or with a certain amount of force to make them bludgeon on impact rather than pierce. I didn't want any of them to be too restricted to one category, though they would be most useful against their own category.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lilienthal View Post
    • Humanoid (Other): Autoconfirm criticals on medium creatures? That sounds wildly overpowered and has very little to do with fighting humanoids.
    • Vermin: I recommend rewording to "for each size category below small." A Giant shouldn't be getting bonuses on humans, even if he might call them vermin. I'm also a bit concerned about balance here versus Tiny and Fine critters.
    Autoconfirming doesn't seem overpowered; you still have to threaten a critical hit, and if you're attack bonus is high enough for that, then it probably will make a critical hit on average anyway. It's not much different from just a +10 to critical confirmation, and it does only come at level 20.

    For Vermin, I wanted these to represent you using your learning of these creatures to expand into more generalized combat. So if you learn to fight Vermin very well, you should be able to generalize those methods for other smaller creatures. Vermin's abilities are usually more powerful than others because Vermin are so rarely encountered, so I need to give some incentive to make it a viable option.

    As for balance, there are very very few high level creatures smaller than Small. And even if there are, they gain progressively higher attack bonuses for their size. A Fine creature gets +8 to attack; a Medium ranger gets +8 natural armor AC in response, just canceling out the bonus. It's not very high and again, it is a level 20 ability for a rarely seen creature type.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lilienthal View Post
    In general, it seems like you also blurr the line between "experience fighting this type" and magical powers. From what I understand of the core mechanic, you receive bonuses to fighting these types of creatures because of your experience with them in the past or a devotion to destroying or fighting them. It doesn't make any sense that an Aberration's tentacles are suddenly half their length when they try to hit you, just because you killed a few of them in the past. The same goes for giving out elemental immunities and other abilities that make the monster's abilities weaker instead of making you stronger against them.
    The tentacles I was thinking was because you learn methods for dodging and evading them effectively so that they need to get closer to you to get through your evasive maneuvers. It was also because aberrations are a wide enough category that I couldn't think of anything better. Fire resistance was because you become more tolerant of fire damage after being exposed to it for so long, though I admit that fire immunity doesn't make much sense. Again, couldn't think of a good enough capstone there.

    Would it help if I add fluff explanations before each ability? I didn't do it before because I thought it would just make that section longer and more involved than it already is, but I can do that if too many of them defy explanation. And I definitely need some help with new ideas to replace some of the sketchier abilities, since I want to avoid plain +stat type abilities.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lilienthal View Post
    Finally, I'm considering changing the progression for Favored Enemy in my games. Basically, the every fifth level advancement would only determine maximum bonuses and selection of new types, while +1 or +2's could be distributed freely up to that limit every other level or so. I think the power level would be similar, but it helps spread out its advancement and gets rid of the annoyance that comes with selecting the order you want to take your Favored Types in.
    I like that idea. I'll look into it. Can you give a little more detail on how you're picking new types and how you're distributing the bonuses? Is it still a new Favored Enemy every 5 levels?
    Last edited by PId6; 2009-09-01 at 04:24 PM.
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