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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Supplement Books Dilemma

    So, I'm in somewhat of a dilemma with the group I play D&D with, and using supplement books. My group is a rather casual group, and have up until about a month ago played with core only books, and usually only at low levels.

    After one of our parties got wiped out, and the campaign got sacked, I made a push for starting out at level 10. The party went for it, and we played through a quest fairly well, although everyone else was a bit shaking on knowing what do with their characters.

    After that, I pushed again for allowing a bunch of supplement books into our games. Again, everyone went for it, and we suped up our characters with new abilities and things from the books.

    We're now about halfway through another quest, and I'm starting to notice some problems. Several of the players are sitting there looking bored, and I'm pretty sure its because either they don't understand how to use their characters anymore, or because they feel like the other characters are far more powerful than them (which is often the case)

    With these new rules, I feel like we've developed a rift in the group between super-optimized characters, and characters that didn't take full advantage of what they could have.

    So now I come to my dilemma. I want everyone to have fun again, and the most fun I've seen us having was in low-level core only campaigns. Is this really the best way to play with casual groups? So I'm caught between staying where we are and hoping the players will stick through it and have fun again, and pushing for reverting back to core only after we finish the quest we are on. I feel bad trying to push it back, having opened up our characters to a vast array of cool new things, then immediately taking them away again.

    Now that I'm typing this out, I come to the realization that even if this group does go back to basics, I can always join another group and optimize there to my heart's content.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    You may have to take the game slower so players can learn the rules a bit better. Try a "cheat sheet" on the rules if you have the time to put one together.
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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    HalflingRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    One option is to ask them which way is more fun. The group I'm in pretty much defines casual. 3 people counting myself have a prestige class selected and are working our way towards it (level 5 now). The other 5 people are just going with the flow. If they happen to meet the prerequisites for something they might take it, if not they're happy enough playing a base character. I wouldn't be surprised if they're overwhelmed but won't say anything about it.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    Well, everyone understands core just fine. That's not an issue. I think where the problem starts is that some of us have characters that are entirely non-core, so some of the players don't bother trying to learn about them since they have no place to start from.

    There is also an issue that arose when one player helped design another's character with new rules. Now the player who is playing that character has no idea where any of their abilities came from or what they do. This however is something we plan on fixing regardless of our decision.

    I suppose I could make some cheat sheets, but based on the number of books, I wouldn't know where to start on that.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    How much understanding of the rules do they feel they need? How much do they feel they have of core? If they feel they're being pressured into adopting systems they don't understand - "Dude, play a Totemist, it's cool, I'll explain it to you as we go" - well, take the pressure off. In general, though, they shouldn't need to know too much in order to play their characters... if the problem is the explosion of options available to them at all times (they're a Cleric and suddenly have access to a zillion more spells), point them towards classes with simpler options like the Beguiler-esque spontaneous arcanists, or ToB - anything where they may need thelp to build, but in play don't have to master that much.

    What's the problem with power? My best advice there is just to do what you ought to be doing in core - act as gatekeeper and try to keep people on par with one another or at least not stepping on one another's toes, and tailor challenges to the entire party.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    I have discussed the issue with 2 of the 5 other players, and both of them agreed that they were having more fun before the change. One of which is stubborn and was a little iffy on the change in the first place, the other the main person who is feeling out-shined in the party and feeling useless.

    I definitely won't try to make any decisions on my own, but I like to be well aware of both sides of any argument I make, before I make it.
    The NPC.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    I think the main thing I see developing is the feeling among the party that they need to optimize their characters as much as possible. The ones that are are becoming much more powerful than the ones that don't, and the ones that don't are feeling useless.

    Part of that problem is that the ones who are not optimizing are choosing so because they don't understand the new material as well as the others. I'm not sure if this is because they don't have the time, don't want to, or simply can't understand it. Anyway, they have become reliant on the players who do understand to tell them what they should be using, doing, etc.

    I suppose I could spend some time helping teach, but I also don't want to babysit.
    The NPC.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    My group is composed of casual players and, well, optimizers. We asked to optimizers kindly not to break the game. That works very well in our group. As for the books, in a player wants to use a new set of rules, they have to explain themselves to the others how that works. This also makes sure the player knows the rules very well.

    So far, no one has tried to introduce incarnum, tome of magic casters or psionics, but if someone seriously wants it, no problem.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by EnnPeeCee View Post
    I think the main thing I see developing is the feeling among the party that they need to optimize their characters as much as possible. The ones that are are becoming much more powerful than the ones that don't, and the ones that don't are feeling useless.
    Have them play Druids or ToB classes. Both come pre-optimized. Same goes for the Beguiler and Dread Necromancer.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    Helping other people with character design should always be done very carefully, too easy to take their sense of investment away.

    That said, just steer the non optimizers to the good core classes wizards, clerics, druids and rogues are hard to screw up (well the rogue needs dex and his skillpoints in the right place, but that's pretty straightforward). Unless the optimizers are using cheese (incantatrix, artificer, celerity, uber charger that sort of stuff) there really shouldn't be a problem then.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    I've seen this issue come up before.

    "Steering" players to more powerful stuff rarely works in my experience. They just end up feeling pressured and disconnected from their character.

    The best approach is for the optimiser-types to go for classes and builds that boost up the rest of the party, rather than ones that win battles by themselves. This evens out the power levels within the party, but it only works if you have the right players.

    An easier approach might be to slow things down. From the sound of it the problem might have been that you introduced too much new stuff at once. If the party is used to core rules and low levels, jumping all the way up to level 10 and then throwing in a whole lot of new books at once is going too fast. A better way to do it would be to start off somewhere in between level wise - 5 or 6, say - and introduce only one extra book at a time. That gives everyone a chance to get used to it.

    D&D is quite a complex game at higher levels, and it takes a lot of effort to get comfortable with a new ruleset. If you keep going higher and higher and adding more and more material, the gap is probably going to worsen.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Katana_Geldar View Post
    You may have to take the game slower so players can learn the rules a bit better. Try a "cheat sheet" on the rules if you have the time to put one together.
    My players do this. It's very helpful.

    Also, it may be that the encounters lose their edge. If the players optimize, the DM has to do so too.


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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    If I would introduce new classes, that none of the players have ever played before, I wouldn't start the game at 10th level.
    The good thing about getting abilities at later levels is, that you can first familiarize yourself with one or two abilities and when you get new ones, you already have an idea how they could be used in combination with abilities you already have.
    I think the best ideas would be to start at 10th level only with familiar classes, or use new classes starting at very low levels.
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  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    I think that you could safely use 2-3 of these

    PHBII

    Tome of Magic

    Complete Warrior

    Complete Arcane

    Complete Divine

    Complete Adventurer

    (and Maybe Heroes of Horror)
    Last edited by Lord Loss; 2009-08-25 at 06:04 AM.
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  15. - Top - End - #15
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    No matter what you do, you'll always have balance issues.|
    Eg warlock (Has eldritch blast, fluff wise a most deadly attack, ssuch that warlocks in the fluff often forget about having backup, and think they can solo everything)
    Is rather weak compaire ta a wizard:
    Fireball:
    do your lvls worth of d6 damage on a AoE, and even if they save you do 50% damage anyway.

    Sure fireballs not usefuyll in all circumstances, but they have other spells that do that sort of damage also.
    Eg lighting bolt if they are in a line, vampiric touch if thers just one of them, disintergrate, finger of death.

    Hard to balance that
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  16. - Top - End - #16
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by oxinabox View Post
    No matter what you do, you'll always have balance issues.|
    Eg warlock (Has eldritch blast, fluff wise a most deadly attack, ssuch that warlocks in the fluff often forget about having backup, and think they can solo everything)
    Is rather weak compaire ta a wizard:
    Fireball:
    do your lvls worth of d6 damage on a AoE, and even if they save you do 50% damage anyway.

    Sure fireballs not usefuyll in all circumstances, but they have other spells that do that sort of damage also.
    Eg lighting bolt if they are in a line, vampiric touch if thers just one of them, disintergrate, finger of death.

    Hard to balance that
    Actually, if you're playing a wizard that way, they're not all that imbalanced against a warlock. It's when you start playing wizards in the horrendously overpowered Batman "I know everything and control everything" way that they become ridiculously over the top.

    A blaster wizard and a warlock are going to be judged according to their group's tally of encounters per day - the more you have, the more the balance leans towards the 'lock.

    I recommend this: stick to Core-only, but each player is allowed to bring in two or three books of his/her choice to supplement characters. While it won't stop a dedicated optimizer (Give me Complete Mage, Spell Compendium, and Complete Scoundrel and I will break quite a bit), it limits the amount of sources each person has to keep track of. The DM, of course, is stuck having to keep track of all of them, but at least it gives players the choice.

    And I echo the Beguiler / Dread Necromancer / Warmage ideas as well - easy to learn and powerful straight outta the box. Well. Mostly.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    Let the player take the book they're primarily using home to have a look in their own time.

    At home I have a PHB1. So I tend to play PHB 1 characters. I also use an online feat database that breaches out of core. I'm planning on using a non core feat in the future.

    If I go to my friends house for games and have to make a character I'll not start looking through the massive library. It's too much choice and time to take when we want to play.

    Once I've got a character I might look in a book to see what's related but usually doesn't fit for whatever reason. My cleric wanted a prestige class and went all through the divine book without seeing anything he randomly qualified for.
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  18. - Top - End - #18
    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnorman View Post
    Actually, if you're playing a wizard that way, they're not all that imbalanced against a warlock. It's when you start playing wizards in the horrendously overpowered Batman "I know everything and control everything" way that they become ridiculously over the top.
    Why do people always refer to Batman wizards that way? Isn't Batman all about doing what needs to be done/what noone else in the party can do?
    What you're describing is more like some kind of Two-Face "Heads -I win; Tails, you lose!".

    Anyway. To topic: Sounds like the high level is part of the problem here, so maybe you should look into E6?
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  19. - Top - End - #19
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclocone View Post
    Why do people always refer to Batman wizards that way? Isn't Batman all about doing what needs to be done/what noone else in the party can do?
    What you're describing is more like some kind of Two-Face "Heads -I win; Tails, you lose!".

    Anyway. To topic: Sounds like the high level is part of the problem here, so maybe you should look into E6?
    Batman is used as a descriptor on spellcasters that have so much versatility in spell choice they can do everything. much like the real batman has so many gadgets and is so badass that he can do pretty much everything(well, not like omnipotence).
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    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Hijax View Post
    Batman is used as a descriptor on spellcasters that have so much versatility in spell choice they can do everything. much like the real batman has so many gadgets and is so badass that he can do pretty much everything(well, not like omnipotence).
    It gets used like that, yes. But that's not how the term was intended. Being Batman is about playing the wizard class to it's strengths, while at the same time remaining synergistic with the classes who fulfill the other party roles; it's not about stealing the fighters thunder.
    The wizard who can and will do anything is (IMO) more accurately described with the God moniker.
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    HalfOrcPirate

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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclocone View Post
    Anyway. To topic: Sounds like the high level is part of the problem here, so maybe you should look into E6?

    What is E6? Can you provide a link or something?

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Colossus in the Playground
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by talus21 View Post
    What is E6? Can you provide a link or something?
    E6 basically caps the game to 6th level (where things are still reasonably balanced and dedicated classes of each type are rewarded), and awards bonus feats since.

    See here.
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    Orc in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    Yeah, so maybe I was being a little hasty with trying to take all the books away again.

    Starting at level one, or close there to will definitely help out.

    I would say that I like the idea of capping the level, but I don't think the party would go for that, we like the idea of high level characters too much.

    I did have a thought last night, would eliminating / restricting multiclassing help balance the game? That way players would stick to a single core class, and maybe one PrC. Not really sure about this, just a thought I had.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by EnnPeeCee View Post
    YI did have a thought last night, would eliminating / restricting multiclassing help balance the game? That way players would stick to a single core class, and maybe one PrC. Not really sure about this, just a thought I had.
    It would make things less complicated, but it wouldn't do anything to balance the game. Multiclassing usually makes a character weaker rather than stronger unless you know what you're doing.

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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Jalor View Post
    Have them play Druids or ToB classes. Both come pre-optimized. Same goes for the Beguiler and Dread Necromancer.
    No, Druid comes pre-broken.

    Magic of Incarnum, Tome of Battle, Player's Handbook 2, and the Binder section of Tome of Magic are all among the best in terms of balance. Alternatively, point the weaker players to the Handbooks on BG will give them a way to make their characters effective and enjoyable.

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    I suppose it might help if I provided a list of the books we've added.

    PHBII
    UA
    CAd
    CAr
    CD
    CM
    CSc
    CW
    RoD
    RoS
    RotW

    Although, we never specifically sat down and laid out exactly what to allow or not, this is what we've been using for the most part.

    We're not using any psionics, ToB, ToM, or setting specifics.
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    I would start with what the players would like to play.

    Those books combined probably hold 30 or 40 base classes and far more than a hundred of prestige classes. But for a character who wants to play a knight, maybe only 3 base classes and 8 prestige classes are of any interest to take a closer look at them, as all of the others are for entirely different characters.

    When it comes to D&D, "balance" is something that should only be tried by really experienced pros who are willing to kick almost anything from the game and make up everything themselves starting at almost zero.
    I wouldn't worry about balance, only about all players being able to contribute to the game. As long as everyone things the party would not be as successful if it would have to work without his character, I'd say everything is mostly fine.
    Last edited by Yora; 2009-08-25 at 05:36 PM.
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    PHB2 is pretty balanced. The Complete books range from having really lame ideas (CWar Samurai) to really broken (CArc Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil), so it might be worthwhile to cherry pick from those.

    Unearthed Arcana has some options that make ideas viable---for example, crafting becomes a bit more doable if you use the Craft Points variant. However, there are some things from UA that I will never ever use---Flaws, for example. It's just too easy to pick something that won't screw you over despite it being, you know, a flaw.


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  29. - Top - End - #29
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    In my opinion your problem is mainly starting at too high a level. Starting at a maximum of 4th level will eliminate prestige classes and reduce the complexity of characters and the number of magic items and feats to choose.

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Supplement Books Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by EnnPeeCee View Post
    We're not using any psionics, ToB, ToM, or setting specifics.
    That's too bad, I can see banning everything but XPH, ToB, ToM, MoI plus the feats/skills in Core being an extremely interesting campaign. Everything would be roughly in line with each other except for four noticeably underpowered classes (Truenamer that has an excellent fix on the forums, Shadowcaster that has an excellent fix on the forums, Soulborn that has an excellent fix on the forums, Soulknife that has a fix about every week). Also you get all the excitement of totally new things, though perhaps a bit too much of it at once.

    Complete Scoundrel and Complete Mage should be fine, nothing there stands out to me that's not already broken in Core. Same with PHB2. The other completes are a bit more scattered in terms of balance.

    Another option is to come up with ways so that characters built more solidly around roleplay aren't punished. Extra skill points so that the wizard that wants Forgery and the barbarian that wants Craft (stuff made from people I kill) aren't left out. Turning the +2/+2 skill feats and Skill Focus into feats awarded for roleplay or taken as 1st-level background feats.
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