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    Default To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    While I am in no position to judge the balance and quality of a thrid party sourcebook, I find that they take the place of a role that would already be filled by a balanced character. On the opposite end of the spectrum I fully respect the skill, and intelligence, of those who use classes form these books.

    But, a lot of third party supplements add new classes and prestige classes that simply aren't nessecary to a player who role-plays well (I do not imply here that people who use sumplementary classes cannot role-play). Sure, these books add new and interesting mechanics to a game that begins to seem trite after countless campaigns, but I feel that, to some extent, these mechanics are already represented in the PHB and DMG.

    The beauty of 3.5 edition, hence the detriment of the earlier and later editions, is its flexibility, but balance. A rogue, is not just a city dwelling theif, they could be an army sniper, a practiced politician, a pirate, or a mercenary. A bard could be anything from a wandering healer, to a performing sing-and-dance routine, and so forth. The flexibility in skill, feat, ability, race, racial template, and multiclassing potential provide enough permutations to represent a vast majority of characters.

    My nit-pick, therefore, is that many of these non-core classes represent characters that can be played without the non-core classes. Why play a ninja of some form or other? Hiding is always hiding, no matter the person. A rogue takes ranks in hide and move silently the same way a ninja would. Should you want to play a ninja who channels mystical powers to their aid, make it a sorceror/rogue and choose spells that are applicable to this class. One might argue that such a compromise forfeights the power of one class for the the power of another. I would agree entirely. A ninja spends much more time in formal training than a streetrat.

    But, I believe that this represents more experience and levels. A ninja that can use magic, or mystical powers, to hide has more levels than a rogue. Why should there be a class that allows them to level equally with an analougous class, yet still have what translates to extra training in-game? In mind, there can be no such thing as a "weak first level ninja". A ninja represents skill far beyond the grasp of a begining adventurer. A highly trained an specialized rogue is no different from this ninja. Ninja, pirate, mage, warlock, these are all titles, different names for a character who has a certain level of skill in a certain class.

    Then there is the arguement that a core-class doesn't have the flexibility or a third-party class because they can't perform certain specific actions.

    I would argue to the contrary. I return to my vague "ninja" concept. Let's say our hypothetical player wants to give his ninja a death attack. Let's say a death attack represents an attack strong enough to kill the strongest humans because of its accuracy. Guess what? You already have that! It's called sneak attack! It gets better as you improve your abilty to take advantage of distraction, and simply aim better. It kills most untrained humans: even at first level! As for no killing a highly trained soldier, or a monster: they're not as fragile as a human, are they? It takes significantly better aim, ditraction, whatever to kill them. Maybe even a follow-up shot.

    I could go on arguing a specific example, but my point is: many "new" mechanics released beyond the core-classes are already represented in the base classes. Much like two fighters fighting is not: two guys hitting eachother with swords, taking turns, before one falls down, most core classes represent a much wider spectrum. Just like the rolls and numbers of the fighters represents them wearing each other down, dodging weaving, turning to make a fatal strike into a mere glancing bow, the versatility and role-playing opens opertunities for a wider spectrum of characters.

    An important caveat: my wall of text is neither universal, nor is it impervious to counter-arguement. I have had loads of fun playing a luck-based class from Complete Scoundrel. My friend once played a dragon-oriented melee character from PHB II. Both times these characters represented concepts simply foreign to the standard rules.

    I'm not condemning the use of non-core classes and rules, but from a DM's perspective, I think the aparent gaps in core classes are replaced easily with logic and imagination. The reason for their popularity, I think, is confusion. Most protagonists in books and movies are far above 10th level, in game terms, while most of their opponents are 1st or second at best. Players try to find ways to balance that level of skill so it applies at all levels of experience, but it simply doesn't scale.

    I'm just wondering whether there are those who share my opinion, and if I am missing some crucial point.
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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    I think you may be confusing "third party" supplements with supplements actually released by Wizards of the Coast, which are just supplements. That aside, yes role-playing can substitute for mechanical differentiation (in any edition), but there is a market for supplements that provide mechanical differentiation because there is an audience that enjoys them. I have little interest in a thousand different variations on a fighter (or whatever), but probably the majority of D20/3e players (at least those evident on-line) very much enjoy these aspects for their own sake. Not everybody has the same preferences, and a wide array are catered for in an (apparently) ever shrinking community.
    Last edited by Matthew; 2009-11-27 at 01:51 PM.
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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    To a large part, I agree. The 3.5 "rewrite" I'm working on helps address this by making the basic classes more flexible, making multiclassing actually work well, and restoring prestige classes to a good balance of trade-offs. Between those three, most iconic "ideas" can be represented in the revised core classes and PrCs.

    There will always be exceptions, though. Sometimes, an iconic idea simply just doesn't match anything in existence closely enough. Invokers and binders, for example, could arguably just be reflavorings of sorcerers, but they wind up "missing" something that matches their idiom. A ninja, knight, scout, or swashbuckler, on the other hand, should be a concept easily made by improved multiclassing in the core classes.


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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    I agree with you about this, but I feel that new material always helps different angles be made a lot easier to take, rather than having to rely on twisting around old material. And feats cannot be made to be like different feats; they are what they are.
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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    I see what you mean with this post, and I respectfully disagree.

    sometimes the crunch of the base classes just don't get to the flufff you want. If you want a Melee genius, the fighter can do, but he is shown up by everything. a cleric can fight better. some of the non core stuff is there to fix some mistakes in core, and to give different things for people to springboard ideas off of.

    and as a second point, looking at your ninja example, why not try a ranger?

    well, if he wants to be sneaky, and be able to fight, he should be a rogue/fighter.

    or a druid

    cleric with plant themed spells

    it goes on and on like that. I feel you need different things to run off of.

    just my opinion. I may be wrong
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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    All your responses are fair. I just wanted to know if there were any people who are old-school like me and liked the idea of using the provided toolset to build their own world.

    As for the invoker/binder thing, that falls under my list of exceptions: It's one of the classes that isn't mechanically lacking in core, but rather texturally lacking. I accept classes like that.

    And with that I sign off, I'm late for my own DnD session!
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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by vanyell View Post
    and as a second point, looking at your ninja example, why not try a ranger?

    well, if he wants to be sneaky, and be able to fight, he should be a rogue/fighter.

    or a druid

    cleric with plant themed spells

    it goes on and on like that. I feel you need different things to run off of.

    just my opinion. I may be wrong
    My ninja example was entirely arbitrary. I just wanted to show the versatility of the existing system, not build a class. Your way works perfectly well too.
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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    First off, when you actually want to play a ninja, you run into a few issues. So there's no such thing as a "Weak first level ninja." That means now I have to figure out how exactly my first level character is going to BECOME a ninja, since "and then he trained in a monastary for two years" is a lot easier to put into the backstory than into the game.

    I can't think of a really clear dividing line between "Oh look I'm the kind of charismatic street guy Harrison Ford usually plays look at me being oppurtunistic" and "Oh now I'm an elite assassin" and I find it hard to think of ways to gradually transition from one to the other.

    A lot of things just arn't really doable in core.

    Take the sniper. As far as I can recall, in Core, you can take, um, Precise Shot and Far Shot for improving your ranged capabilities. I think that's about it. Also, of course, there's the fact that Sneak Attack can't be used to replicate a sniper because Sneak Attack has a maximum range of 30 feet and can't be used if the target can see you.

    A lot of things are streamlined by noncore. Take the magic ninja concept. Monk-rogue-sorcerer crossbreeds require a lot of levels and a lot more planning. Swordsage, on the other hand, requires no trips to the CharOp boards just to be workable.

    Also, dipping sorcerer will yield quite different abilities from the swordsage. Swordsage, for example, has a nifty power where you conjure an illusion to attack with you and distract the opponent.
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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_archmagi View Post
    Also, dipping sorcerer will yield quite different abilities from the swordsage. Swordsage, for example, has a nifty power where you conjure an illusion to attack with you and distract the opponent.
    And he has proefeciency with orange training suits, and summons giant frogs, and must wear a metal band showing his clan...Oh, wait, swordsages don't get that!

    The ninja example is quite discussable because there's plenty of ninja stereotypes. Rogue 20 would fit much better the more usual ninja who just sneacks around, stabs people in the back and uses trinkets, but there's also then the ninjas who paralyze people with a look and then the ninjas who can be spoted several kilometers away because their effects outshine the sun itself.

    So first you need to decide what do you understand by ninja, or whatever concept you picked.

    If you're gonna go magic ninja, sorceror 20 picking the right spells might work just as wel. Heck a cloistered cleric with the trickery domain! A psion? A fighter who specializes in sneaking inside houses of people who don't have 9000 ranks of spot and listen?
    Last edited by Oslecamo; 2009-11-27 at 03:27 PM.

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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    Thematic issues aside, balance should be examined also. If I am making Li Mu Bai or Achilles, and I make them as a monk or fighter, my suspension of disbelief has to contend with the fact that that no matter how well I RP them, they get stomped a lot. By rebuilding them as Swordsage and Warblade, I have mechanics that will actually meet my expectations.

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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnaeus View Post
    Thematic issues aside, balance should be examined also. If I am making Li Mu Bai or Achilles, and I make them as a monk or fighter, my suspension of disbelief has to contend with the fact that that no matter how well I RP them, they get stomped a lot. By rebuilding them as Swordsage and Warblade, I have mechanics that will actually meet my expectations.
    No you don't. You still get stomped by Mr.Wizard and friends. You just get to shout exotic names before dying. Wich is what hapened to Achilles BTW. He was all fine and dandy killing low level warriors, but throw a decent rogue with poison and arrows and he dies. A rogue specialized in socialization! Plus he ran away from a lousy water elemental.
    Last edited by Oslecamo; 2009-11-27 at 03:31 PM.

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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew View Post
    I think you may be confusing "third party" supplements with supplements actually released by Wizards of the Coast, which are just supplements.
    This really bears repeating. I'm going to proceed as though you mean anything non-core when you say "third-party," but that's definitely a misnomer on your part.

    On the subject of supplements: OP, the attraction of these books is not the content they provide. With the core mechanic supplied by the SRD, you're right - any of us could, with sufficient time and inclination to sit down and bang out the numbers, homebrew ourselves anything that can be found in a splat book.

    The attraction of splat books is their ubiquity. If I a ask about a "Swordsage" on any D&D forum, or if I announce to my playgroup that I want to be an "Ur-Priest," anyone who plays 3.5 will know what I'm talking about. I won't have to take the time explaining level-by-level what the class will be able to do, and research is easy for my peers (and DM) even if they don't possess the source supplement.. Or I can ask in the other direction and say "I want to be a Bard that delves deeper into his magical talent than most bards ever do." One of the first responses I get will be Sublime Chord.

    Supplements don't hamper creativity - they enable it. By preconstructing mechanics around a number of key concepts, they give homebrewers everywhere a starting point to fit their needs, eliminating most of the grudgework and leaving them free to focus on their goal.

    They are also written by some of gaming's most brilliant minds. Consider the Factotum, a class partly designed by our very own Rich Burlew. No average gamer could have come up with and executed a class concept that elegant. And even if they could, without corporate backing they wouldn't be paid to playtest it and work out the kinks.

    As an analogy - you can quite easily dive into the stock market and make lucrative trades without employing a broker, just as you can quite easily start homebrewing in 3.5 without acquiring any supplements. But supplements do so much of the work that they are considered to be the best possible starting point.

    Just as with a stockbroker, a designer is not infallible, and (many) mistakes make it through the cracks. We live and play in an inherently chaotic system. But without their work to build on, I firmly believe that leaving each individual DM up to only his own logic and imagination would result in a much less unified product.

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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    I guess I could homebrew equivalents for every single thing not found in core...but hell, why would I want to?

    I mean, if I wanted to do that much homebrewing of options, I might as well homebrew core as well, and make/sell my own RPG.

    The splatbooks wouldn't sell if people didn't want others to do that work for them.

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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Optimystik View Post
    Excellent stuff.
    I'm inclined to agree, however, I have one nitpick; I was under the impression the Factotum was written by one of Mr. Burlew's cowriters, rather than a collaboration. I could, of course, be wrong, but clarification would be appreciated.

    On topic, I'm of the opinion that the core set actually just isn't very well written. I believe, that, in a group familiar with the material, replacing core (for players) with the ToB and XPH is a much more enjoyable exercise. A Warblade can emulate just as many (and more) archetypes than a fighter (and to a lesser extent ranger), while being a much more enjoyable class; Crusaders do the same for paladins, while some rangers, rogues, and monks are very easily converted into Swordsages of various sorts. Psions, Psychic Warriors, and Wilders are all much more balanced (and in my opinion, fun) than their core arcane/divine counterparts, while being able to fulfill nearly the same roles. With one additional supplement (dungeonscape), you have a terrifically fun bard/rogue substitute in the aforementioned Factotum. Thematically, all of these can emulate similar core themes, all while being much more balanced when used correctly and much more enjoyable overall.

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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    The way I see it, supplements are there for people who have more money than time/creativity. They have definetly come up with more and better stuff than I have come up with, but I still feel obligated to add my creativity to core to come up with my own stuff.

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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    The way I see it, supplements are there for people who have more money than time/creativity. They have definetly come up with more and better stuff than I have come up with, but I still feel obligated to add my creativity to core to come up with my own stuff
    I would take offense at such a statement. Of course, creativity is what Role-Playing is all about, creativity in every form, from coming up with a story to creating your own base classes.
    BUT: I have a friend who will often ahve a very specific idea of what he wants to play. Imagine the splatbooks don't exist. I now have to go through every level with him, listen to his ideas, approve of twisting some rules and class abilites, or even make up new one. Or I could open a splatbook that is centered around what he wants to do, and say, well, you could combine levels of X with levels of Y, and take feat A, B, and C. Sure, perfect recreation of his ide can only be guaranteed by a homebrew, and there are still things that can't be emulated by sticking together classes and pretige classes, but having many splatbooks around means that you can look at other people's ideas (people who are paid to do this stuff) and use a wide array of ready-made classes, and that you can find ideas you would never ahve come up with. There are some things one will never imagine, not even think of. This has nothing do do with lacking creativity, even a crafty GM can't possioble cover every archetype, every culture, and so one.
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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    im a little bit of column a and a little bit of column b.
    I think some classes are more or less covered by other classes particularly some of the prestige classes seem redundant. But on the other times their are some charecter concepts that just don't translate well to the core classes, lots of supplements and alternate class features make it much easier to find what your looking for as a player (as a dm you can just home brew the problem away)

    As its been mentioned you could make many types of charecter concept sorta work through massive multi classing but if your concept was a bad ass magic, using, ninja, martial artist your sorcerer/ rouge/ monk might be able to be a sneaky/ magic using/ martial artist but he wont be bad ass he will be lousy at being sneaky have ineffective magic and will get the snot punched out of him in a fight with someone half his level in his own so called specialty. It will be hard to role play this charecter as bad ass if he is vastly weaker then the other characters cohorts.

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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    No you don't. You still get stomped by Mr.Wizard and friends. You just get to shout exotic names before dying. Wich is what hapened to Achilles BTW. He was all fine and dandy killing low level warriors, but throw a decent rogue with poison and arrows and he dies. A rogue specialized in socialization! Plus he ran away from a lousy water elemental.
    wait, I'm not allowed to yell "POWER ATTACK" and "SNEAK ATTACK" whenever I hit someone as a fighter or rogue? That's not fair.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel, on quest rewards View Post
    "Is a stack of ten pancakes too many pancakes to give to the party, even if most of them fell on the floor and one or two were stepped on? I wanted to give my party pancakes as a reward but I'm unsure if it's too much. The pancakes are also laced with blowfish poison so the party would have to get an antitoxin before they could eat the ones which weren't pulverized by shoes."

    I don't think anyone would want those pancakes even if you paid them to eat them.

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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    ^ Absolutely not. Actually I wouldn't really care unless I were DMing a deep involved story.

    Online I frequently see supplements abused. In person I see them used more judiciously, though still with some minor power creep. I likewise agree that most builds should be the basic PH classes with RP flavor tacked on. I'm not a big fan of PrC's either, except for gestalt builds. Even then it's often an underpowered trap unless you really know what you're doing.

    However, I have seen concepts which for various mechanical reasons benefit from 3rd party material. For people who want to play a certain way and need the 3rd party material for their style, but not powergaming, I can see a use. Like I said fortunately this is more common offline.

    Incidentally I recently bought some RPG material written by Gary Gygax. I'm not sure if there's any rules at all in the books I selected, and even if there is it's probably for the wrong edition. Now that kind of stuff is solid gold.
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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    Hiest, when you talk about "mechanics already being represented in core", what you seem to mean is that core mechanics already represent the same things -- specifically, the same basic character archetypes -- that are represented by non-core mechanics, instead of that core mechanics actually function in basically the same way as non-core mechanics.

    A Warlock actually uses significantly different game mechanics from a Sorcerer, and a Warblade uses significantly different game mechanics from a Fighter. At least, the differences would seem to be greater than those between a Wizard and a Sorcerer and between a Fighter and a Barbarian. It would seem that if a DM wanted to allow for flexibility, she'd do better to place Sorcerer, Warlock, Barbarian, and Warblade on her list of allowed classes than Sorcerer, Wizard, Barbarian, and Fighter. Of course, if allowing maximum flexibility were her only concern, she'd just allow all of the classes...

    Death Attack and Sneak Attack are like each other in that they only work under certain conditions and increase the likelihood of one-shotting a level-appropriate target. They're also unlike each other in that one targets hit points and the other targets Fort saves, Death Attack only works in melee, and so on and so forth.

    In theory, you could represent loads of character concepts using one class with no options at all. Everyone of the same level has the same stats, but one character's Ranged Attack is thrown daggers, another's is arrows, another's is blasts of magical energy, and so on. Passing over a wall could be done by successfully climbing it or by successfully completing a spell that lets you float over it. And so on for other things.

    There are several potential problems with that. (1) Players may want their characters to have different capabilities, instead of the ability to do the same thing as the next guy, just in a different way. (2) Players may find it interesting to play around with a wide variety of different game mechanics, notwithstanding that this greatly increases the bookkeeping required and almost unavoidably imbalances the game. (3) Players may dislike such a high level of abstraction, preferring a more specific correspondence between which game mechanic is employed and which in-game events occur.

    I've seen all of these come up to a certain extent in discussions of 4th Edition. Problem 3 seems to come up in the "What the hell are hit points supposed to represent in D&D?" discussion regardless of the edition under consideration.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hiest, monkey View Post
    The beauty of 3.5 edition, hence the detriment of the earlier and later editions, is its flexibility, but balance.
    But... 3.5 isn't balanced. Not even the core rules are balanced. Compare Druids to Fighters, and save-or-die to direct damage. Consider the usefulness candles of invocation and the Diplomacy skill next to their alternatives. I could go on.

    As for no killing a highly trained soldier, or a monster: they're not as fragile as a human, are they?
    It certainly seems like a highly trained human soldier ought to be as fragile as a human, since he frickin' is one. But that's a problem with the defender's stats, not the attackers, and only if you want realism.

    Most protagonists in books and movies are far above 10th level, in game terms
    My, but that's a bit of a dubious assertion.

    Hiest, what you seem to be driving at is the notion that non-core material should be used only when necessary to represent something. Is that correct? And is that the point you're trying to make? (If not, what is your point?)

    If so, why?

    It doesn't seem like it could simply be "You should represent things using core because you don't need to use non-core material." The argument that "You should consider non-core options because you don't need to restrict yourself to core" would seem to make far more sense. Because there are other considerations at work than whether a given bit of material is part of the core books. When considering two options for implementing a concept, one can ask

    - Which option is more balanced?
    - Which one is more powerful?
    - Which one is more consistent with the rules I'm already using?
    - Which one seems like it would be more fun?
    - Which one makes it harder to suspend my disbelief?
    - Which one most directly corresponds to what I'm trying to represent?

    It's not so much that these other considerations seem more important than whether something is core. It's more that I don't see why "Which option is in the core rulebooks?" has any place on that list at all. "Which one is in a book I have access to?", sure. "Which one is in a book I've already read and evaluated?" definitely has a place. And if core material is all that you have convenient access to and all that you're already thoroughly familiar with, then "Which one is core?" has a place because it corresponds to the other questions in that context.

    In short, what's the motivation for the distinction you're drawing?
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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    Devils Advocate has said many good things here and I am glad there are more competent people than me to make this argument.
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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    The example Optimystik brought up is that it makes it easier to communicate online without explaining every detail. As far as I'm concerned I'd rather have core rules with minimal modifications and almost no conditional rules. Sure it makes it harder to explain, but I prefer to spend more time playing than conversing about my newest build on a forum. But that's personal preference.

    Another fault Optimystik found with my logic, I admit it can be viewed as a fault, is that the player following my strict methodology would have to do a lot of homebrewing to fulfil every idea. The only response I found is straight out of the 19th century: "Simplify, Simplify".

    I do very little homebrewing (beyond the occasional flavor spell) because I love to find creative ways to use existing rules. I take the lego blocks given to me and construct what I want. I might connect them in unconventional ways and I might have to puzzle over how to match up all my green blocks, but I won't bust out the paint, and I won't melt them down to sculpt something new. It wouldn't be legos.

    To clarify: I do mean any books that aren't core, but I'm not limiting myself with a blanket ban. Should I want to build a class I feel isn't represented in the core, I will peruse the alternitives written by proffessionals first. I will usually accept their word as law and use the templates given by them to choose the appropriate skills and feats to perfect my build.

    I didn't say that books hamper creativity. To cite a overwrought cliché: "guns don't kill people, people kill people." I'm upset more with those people who don't choose to understand that the class they are using is already represented by a core class. If there is literally no way to adapt an idea to core: fine. I would be glad to run numbers to see if it scales comparitevely with other classes. I encourage using non-core books to base it off of.

    And once more, yes, proffessionals design game systems. This is why I like to stick to the basics. When "the best minds in gaming" design a nearly airtight system without supplements, that is based entirely on the flexibility of a few core classes, I try not to violate their system, unless a design choice was clearly made only to block power-gamers from abusing an otherwise interesting mechanic. There are systems, specifically "Rifts" (which is briliant, incidentally), which allow you to create characters that are so rigidly specialized that the designers are forced to created hundreds of character classes. DnD is all about using the 11 (and 20 or so "good", which is relative, supplements) to their fullest potential.

    The real issue I have is that mechanics are redundant in many of these non-core builds. I also abhor design choices that fundamentally alter the accepted reality of a game. In DnD certain design choices are made, and what irritates me more than anything are builds that use "power points" whatever you call them, and the like. There is a set system of the way things work, and violating this system causes disorganized chaos, which I believe is why so many homebrews devolve into mindless messes.

    Inside the spoiler are semantics and technicalities. Warning: this section is the biggest wall of text you have every seen. The goal of putting so much minutia into my commentary is to represent the complex design and research proccess that goes into a single mechanic, a mechanic that many players are happy to discard in an instant in exchange for a, in all probability balanced, result. This is in no way a criticism of either the people whose statements I have chosen to use as examples, nor is it a commentary on any supplemental mechanics I may be arguing against. My goal is to represent the reasoning behind the core rules, and why I regard them as airtight.
    Spoiler
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    The ninja I used as an example is a random, single stereotype for a ninja. I was simply using it as an example. Furthermore, a point I neglected, seeing it as uneccessary to my arguement, is that ninja's and other super-characters are not meant to be balanced with a party. The lone warrior in a movie is often a specialist in several disciplines, and any master who specialized in one would decimate him. We don't see this because, typically, the ninja, or other powerhoue character, is obviously leveled far above the other characters.

    The reason ninjas are able to take on so many other people and win in movies comics etc. and are not as powerful in DnD as their party members, is because to be the mythical class that the player envisions the character MUST be a higher level that his opponents and companions. A fighter of the smae training and experience as a ninja in a ninja movie would disarm, pin, and strangle the ninja in a straight fight. This is why player tend towards alternate rules. To attain the mythof the baddass, useful character.

    As for the sniper that shadow_archmagi talked about: I understand that sneak attack doesn't apply over 30 feet. Without magic, no extra damage dice should apply over sniper range. Extra damage dice represent 1)and exceptionally powerful attack 2)magic or 3) exceptional accuracy. If we accept the "accepted reality" of DnD, we further accept that without altering the laws of physics with magic, a person cannot exceed the inherent limitations provided in the core rules.

    With a normal bow and arrow, or crossbow of the time period the deceleration caused by air, and the air currents that divert the arrow would be sufficient to eliminate percison over long distance. So why are snipers so deadly now and what place did they have then?

    First, a sharpshooter need not be good enough to deal extra damage dice to make a good shot. Assuming an average human target, a composite longbow can deal, without extra damage dice, an average of 5.5 damage when wielded by a fairly strong character (strength 12). 5.5 damage is enough to cause a almost certain death sentence to a commoner, and to take of half the life of a typical warrior or inhibit him to the point of falling in pain, and possibly dying later of his wounds.

    (keep in mind that most of these figures are about first level characters because like I've said before, Robin Hood will be owned by an equally leveled character, say Aragorn, who specializes in a more upfront combat style, even while either would kill equal amounts of orcs.)

    Therefore, I come, once again, to the conclusion that what differentiates a character from a commoner is not their skill set, or some secret table that they use for damage, but the simple use of levels to represent superior skill and experience.

    Specifically in the case of a sniper, one has to comprehend that a sniper is inherently much more skilled than a typical soldier. He is not differently skilled, like a fighter is different from a rogue, he is more skilled, like a 10th level ranger in contrast with a 3rd level ranger. The reason snipers are so effective now is 1) the massive damage their weapons deal. 2)the inherent range of their weapons, and 3) their skill with aiming weapons to their full potential without violating the inherent limits of physics (represented by a character's base attack bonus).

    A sniper build that opperates beyond the accepted range of sneak attack, while dealing extra dmage dice is laughable in DnD's accepted reality unless you use magic to bend the laws of physics. Simple skill doesn't accelerate an arrow, or direct it throw the strongest wind. It may give you the ability to counter these conditions in the short range, but skill does not allow you to perform that which cannot be done within the limits of reality.

    That the core build doesn't let you fire beyond 1.5 range (with feats) accurately, is because you cannot. An amazing character can deal the bow's full damage over a ludicrous distance because their skill (BAB) counters the range. Their killzone is larger than a first level character's because a bow dealing normal damage causes serious wounds or kills without exceptional aim, and, ergo, extra damage dice.

    The farthest distance ever shot with a recurve bow, a modern one at that was ~800 meters. There is almost certainly no chance this shot could have hit any target. Tournaments held today are at stationary targets ~240ft away. These shots are made by proffessionals who dedicate their lives to training with this weapon. They use sights. They use modern bows, and these targets are neighther running for their lives, dodging arrows, or in melée.

    So the limit for a consitently accurate shot (taking 10) under ideal conditions, without sacrificing accuracy, of a trained proffessional, against a stationary target is 2.5 range increments. Now imagine that that target is actively avoiding you. Or that it's armored. Long distance shots are hard, and a low-level character should not get some arbitrary bonus to them because they chose a certain specialization.
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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    @ Devil's advocate: yes, I believe core is airtight when not abused, and when characters are played as characters and not as numbers designed to all equal each other in the end.

    As for the same task differently: in a recent game we confronted an extradimensional turtle-thing. Rather than getting into a turn-based wacking contest we augmented the barbarian to be able to lift it as a light load (thanks to enlarge person) cast fly on him, and had him pin it (we rule pins as a representation of incapacitating a creature so it's under your power, i.e. darth vader must succeed on a pin to hold a person off the ground while choking them, rather than a literal "pin") then he flew up to a jolly 240 feet, while maintaining the pin and grapple (took him a while, barely had time before the spells ran out) and droppped it (it didn't manage to re-enter a grapple in the one action we gave it in midair).

    Sure, we could have straight up fought it, but we'd rather be creative. It wasn't fazed by our magical attacks, and barely affected even by our min-maxxed barabarian's strongest attack (the DM basically described the creature such that it reacted much in the way a tank would to a single marine: annoyed, slightly endangered, but ultimately unaffected) so we assumed that it was very tough, and had DR. In reallity it was just ill-tempered. It had something like 25 HP left when we decided to play games with it.

    The point is: there are ludicrous permutations within the system. A fifth level party can cause that sort of damage, with a little ingenuety. Or we could've lured the thing after us, outrun it long enough to fashion a little road block, and covered it in oil and torched it, taking potshots while it ran for water. It would've taken longer and probably injured whoever was applying the oil severly, but it was an entirely different solution.

    I don't think you could represent widely different characters with a single class, and I don't believe that 3.5 is so perfect that it has nothing to be fixed. But I do think that the system functions very well within the core mechanics alone. Multiclassing, skill specialization, feat choice, and more allow such a wide variety of options that with a little role-playing (the way we rule that flying up with the turtle-thing was the same as moving a grapple, following the logic that flight was as hard as walking (RAW) and taking up as much time as the former would have taken) a player can use the wide variety of classes to do what they want.

    Ultimately, Gestalt is the ideal way to represent a multiclass character. With a little DM discretion a gestalt can fit into a party, so long as the gestalt has some form of limitation, or simply does more work in a fight for less XP. Gestalt is clearly non-core, yet I fully endorse sucha character.

    On the whole, I endorse core only because, as a general rule, non-core takes liberties with the the setting that need not be taken. There is plenty of non-core that I love with all my heart, and core that I find silly and replacable. But I think that it is much better to adapt to core when it's possible, because it is possible. Why fix what isn't broken?

    I am not saying that we should all worship core and ignore all else, because that is the close-mindedness I'm trying to avoid. I'm suggesting one uses logic in both interpreting core mechanics, as well as discretion in altering them. What I'm have been holding a tirade against all night is the close minded idea that: "if it doesn't conform to my exact standards it should be changed" idea. Usually following such an ideal leads you to miss the oppertunity to see that it does work to your exact standards, or that your standards are asking to be over-powered, or to be inexpendable at all times.

    Mostly I've learned this by experience: early on in my DnD experience I homebrewed everything, and it was an ever wearying hodge-podge of poor design that balanced itself through sheer dumb luck. Later I tried to look at the playstyles you can attain without convoluting the game setting. Lately I've taken to mathematically justifying playstyles before trying them, and what I've come to conclude is that the trick is to balance what is there with what you add, because often enough, there is already something of the sort in the core.

    Edit: I am currently reading the article you linked me to. Another of my central tenets, any new addition to core must satisfy all the math that went into creating core, otherwise it will clash.

    EDIT 2: I didn't actually think it all the way through the way that author did. the article is one of the most sound arguements I have ever read on the topic. I need to stop using the Perform: Essay skill untrained.
    Last edited by Hiest, monkey; 2009-11-27 at 09:42 PM. Reason: poor word choice
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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hiest, monkey View Post
    I'm upset more with those people who don't choose to understand that the class they are using is already represented by a core class.
    Of course the concepts are represented by core classes. The "issue" is that they're not represented as elegantly as they could be. I could use lego blocks to make a beautiful little sculpture, certainly; but it will be fragile and stuff. Alternatively, I could buy a sculpture, save time, and have a more durable piece of art, at the cost of intellectual fulfillment.
    I could use the monk to play a martial artist, but it will be fragile and incompetent and stuff. Alternatively, I could play an unarmed swordsage, save time, be more competent (as a martial artist ought to be); at the cost of not having the satisfaction of making Monk work. And that's a cost I'm willing to pay (the cost of buying all these sourcebooks, on the other hand... >_<)

    Quote Originally Posted by Hiest, monkey View Post
    The real issue I have is that mechanics are redundant in many of these non-core builds. I also abhor design choices that fundamentally alter the accepted reality of a game. In DnD certain design choices are made, and what irritates me more than anything are builds that use "power points" whatever you call them, and the like.
    That's the real issue? It doesn't seem particularly related to the rambling text you have elsewhere. The "real issue" is fundamentally a matter of taste, then. You abhor these choices, I don't. Simple as that; not much room for argument.

    There is a set system of the way things work, and violating this system causes disorganized chaos, which I believe is why so many homebrews devolve into mindless messes.
    What's so great about the system? The masses of people that work well with maneuvers and power points would be inclined to disagree with your allegations of disorganized chaos.

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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    It is a matter of preference. I just wanted to see if I was alone in my preference, and while you make a good point, I simply see DnD as a different game.

    but whatever, who cares. This a forum in which people discuss what they are doing, not arguing about what is right to do, and I've clogged enough space with my walls of text. Agree to disagree.
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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    so you feel a player who wants to be a good sniper is basically agreeing to be incompetent compared to a face to face fighter and should only try and pick fights with things vastly below his cr? That a charecter who wants to do something not represented well in the rules should be punished for it by only being able to fight things far below his own power level?

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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hiest, monkey View Post
    This a forum in which people discuss what they are doing, not arguing about what is right to do, and I've clogged enough space with my walls of text. Agree to disagree.
    1) Nonsense; plenty of people discuss what one ought to do.
    2) Ya, srsly, too much text. Makes it hard to see what the core argument is, since you're talking about a wide variety of topics.
    3) Agreeing to disagree is a fine thing, given the amount of politeness you possess.

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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    You raise a lot of good points. Taking all of 3.5e's splatbook classes and comparing them with each other, they're a big damn mess. However, I have to disagree with the crux of your argument. I contend first that individual classes are extremely arbitrary and thus limiting, and second that multiclassing alone is inadequate to address the need for characters that fall outside of the narrow archetypes represented in core.

    Individual classes tend to consist of a lot of abilities that all fall within the same thematic category, but are inextricably linked for no adequate reason. Why do you have to be Lawful to be any good at beating people up with your fists? Why does training to be really good at beating people up with your fists let you teleport? The monk represents an important fantasy archetype, but it is hardly the only archetype that involves punching things to death.

    Moreover, the multiclassing system is extremely unwieldy. For one thing, trying to mix abilities from different classes tends to impose arbitrarily high level requirements since you may have to grab a couple levels from different classes. When playing in low-level games it's annoying to be missing out on key abilities. Then once you do get to be high enough level, you're stuck with a bunch of low-level abilities that do not really add up to the equivalent of what single-classed characters are getting at your level, so you can't really compete in challenges at your level range. An alternate/homebrew class might let you get the combination of abilities you want sooner, possibly with a weaker version to begin with or at the cost of other class features that don't fit your archetype, and keeps your abilities progressing at a level-appropriate pace.

    Restricting yourself to core makes for an interesting challenge in creativity, both in trying to shoehorn your character concept into the arbitrary limits of core classes and in trying to solve challenges after you've shot yourself in the foot trying to get your character concept up and running in core. But there's nothing stopping you from putting together unusual character builds with splatbook classes, and a good DM can generally provide suitable challenges whether your character is competent or not.
    Last edited by Gpope; 2009-11-27 at 09:35 PM.

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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post
    so you feel a player who wants to be a good sniper is basically agreeing to be incompetent compared to a face to face fighter and should only try and pick fights with things vastly below his cr? That a charecter who wants to do something not represented well in the rules should be punished for it by only being able to fight things far below his own power level?
    I understand why you misunderstood me. I didn't clarify.

    Nope. I'm say that a character cannot be a sniper without being much higher level than 1st or even third level. Sniping is hard, and requires significant training. There cannot be a sniper class that starts at 1st level, because to be a sniper one must accumulate more levels than to be an everyday archer, or a melée fighter.

    Think about it: starting 10 ft away a sniper and a spec ops close combat soldier (high level close range soldier), who wins?
    what about 100ft with good cover? What about 100ft where the spec ops creates his own good cover?
    What about 1000ft away when the sniper has spent his considerable skills preparing?

    They are equally matched, but fight differently.
    What I am saying: any old marine cannot, be even proficient with a sniper rifle at level one. Neither can any old marine be a navy seal at level one.

    Part of the strength of the sniper is his skill above his enemies, and his ability to use better equipment. If you take away the equipment from both classes, and replace it with bows and swords it's eaasy to forget eh limitations of such a loadout, and the reason they were so powerful initially.

    Agreeing to disagree is a fine thing, given the amount of politeness you possess
    Thanks! I try.
    Last edited by Hiest, monkey; 2009-11-27 at 09:40 PM. Reason: forgot to edit before hitting post
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    Default Re: To read the supplement or throw it away: a personal matter.

    Here's the tl;dr version for those who couldn't wade through the text walls:

    Hiest, monkey doesn't like splat books because they make characters who don't use magic too powerful too early in the game, in relation to his experience in real life.
    Last edited by Myrmex; 2009-11-27 at 09:45 PM.

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