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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default An Alienist Fix?

    Although I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, I love the inclusion of the far-plane in the dnd mythos. I just love the idea of a place that even the gods can't understand and which even beings pretty much made of chaos would call screwed up. And it seems right mortal spellcasters would try to tap into that power and being driven insane, which is really just a round about way of saying that I love the fluff of the alienist; it was the first PrC I ever used, and it is involved in my favorite unused character concepts.

    So, anyway, I recently started looking around online for some advice for using the alienist, and the common consensus I found was pretty much don't. Many people I read claimed that it actually made your character weaker then going straight wizard, which is one hand alright (the wizard doesn't really seem to need more power) but on the other, it is kind of a bitter pill to swallow. The most common reasons given were that it nurfed your social skills (which was really alright with me - wizards probably would never be all that social, and the whole insanity-built-into-level-progression is pretty dang unique, and really fun to play, especially if you tried building him/her as a social character) and that it destroyed your summon monster list. You lost anything without a template, and all templates where turned to the pseudonatural template, which is flavorful, but apparently inferior to the others (I didn't notice a bit difference, and true striking charging rhinos that look like an abomination against the gods - good and evil - are just fun).

    So, I think I understand the complaints against the alienist, but I was wondering if there any 'fixes' for it. The one I had shaking around in me head involves a slight change to how the pseudonatural template is added, i.e., it follows how the binder can summon aliens. It can summon anything from the summon monster list so long as it corperal, and it has the template added on, so a fiendish shark becomes a pseudonatural fiendish shark. Problem is, I haven't played enough to know how this would affect the balance of the game, such as it is, and whether this would necessitate the loss of some other class feature.

    So, I turn to you, for advice and guidance.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    The main issue is that it loses access to any creatures that can't be made pseudonatural, and that these are all the good ones at higher levels (i.e. outsiders). I'd love to see a fix for that, but the one that seems the best is to avoid it.
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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Alvrick's Avatar

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    it's full caster and it gives you abilities. That right there makes it fairly good. unfortunately, the only monsters you can summon are pseudonatural, but you would have just summoned a celestial badger or something anyway, so why not make it weird on top of being ferocious, rather than noble, or, in the case of fiendish, scary.

    Really, as long a you can deal with that, it is one of the better Wizard PrC choices already. No fix required.
    Last edited by Alvrick; 2010-04-19 at 10:59 PM.
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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    @EpicEvokerElf: I may not be understand the requirement right, but the psuedonatural template could be added to any corporeal creature. The fix I was trying would keep the outsiders on the list (so long as they aren't incorporeal, I guess) and add the pseudonatural to everything.



    @ Alvrick: I guess I don't really mind the class, just seems many who have probably played more than me seem unimpressed by it, and was wondering if this would make it more palatable to them.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    If losing those extra's is a major problem, modify the template a bit, or make special templated versions of outsiders. However, I'm not seeing anything that says it can't be applied to outsiders, just that the type changes to outsider. I would think that an outsider would just change its type to outsider and apply the template.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Colossus in the Playground
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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alvrick View Post
    it's full caster and it gives you abilities. That right there makes it fairly good. unfortunately, the only monsters you can summon are pseudonatural, but you would have just summoned a celestial badger or something anyway, so why not make it weird on top of being ferocious, rather than noble, or, in the case of fiendish, scary.

    Really, as long a you can deal with that, it is one of the better Wizard PrC choices already. No fix required.
    If one wants it to be good at what it's supposed to be good at, grant it some unique summons on higher levels to replace the Outsiders. E.g. Aberrations are a good idea; many of them are what they are much due to Far Realms influence anyway - against "nature" so to speak. So...yeah, replace higher level Outsider summons with Aberrations of equivalent power, if you want to keep it in-line with the power of standard Wizard summoner.

    Granting the summoned creatures some "wrong" bonuses like extra Tentacle attacks, "wrong" form and so on (see the epic Pseudonatural template for details) as the class advances also seems like a good idea.
    Last edited by Eldariel; 2010-04-19 at 11:16 PM.
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  7. - Top - End - #7
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldariel View Post
    If one wants it to be good at what it's supposed to be good at, grant it some unique summons on higher levels to replace the Outsiders. E.g. Aberrations are a good idea; they're what they are due to Far Realms influence anyways.
    Not in all cases, technically. Lords of Madness has much to say on this point. Just sayin'.

    All that I say applies only to myself. You author your own actions and choices. I cannot and will not be responsible for you, nor are you for me, regardless of situation or circumstance.

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    Colossus in the Playground
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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by arguskos View Post
    Not in all cases, technically. Lords of Madness has much to say on this point. Just sayin'.
    You caught me before edit. I guess that's a form of ninja'ing too. But yeah, many Aberrations are what they are due to Far Realms influence. They're the closest of the existing types to "Far Realmish" so they'd make a logical substitution for the Devils and Demons.
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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldariel View Post
    You caught me before edit. I guess that's a form of ninja'ing too. But yeah, many Aberrations are what they are due to Far Realms influence. They're the closest of the existing types to "Far Realmish" so they'd make a logical substitution for the Devils and Demons.
    Oh yes, you're quite correct. I'm just nitpicky.

    Anyways, yeah, certain aberrations would be great fits. Lots of Far Realmy stuff, like balhannoth's and whatnot, would be pretty good fits.

    All that I say applies only to myself. You author your own actions and choices. I cannot and will not be responsible for you, nor are you for me, regardless of situation or circumstance.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Replacing the outsiders with cr appropriate aberrations would be pretty sweet... is there anything in particular to look for when trying to find monsters appropriate for the SM list?

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Doesn't the Binder get access to Pseudonatural Outsiders? And, it gets access to Pseudonatural Celestial/Fiendish templated creatures. If so why not let the alienist version do the same thing?
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    You could also use the rules in UA for making custom summon lists, and simply replace all the outsiders with similarly CRed creatures who are compatible with the template.

    Incidentally, I once DMed a campaign wherein one of my players went Alienist. Her idea of "slowly going insane from witnessing things no human mind can endure"? Osaka from Azumanga Daioh. Actually fairly unsettling when viewed in that context.
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  13. - Top - End - #13
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    The Alienist is everything a PrC should be.
    You give up something to do it, and you get something of comparable power. The things you give up and get make perfect sense for the class concept. Becoming an Alienist is approximately as powerful as staying straight Wizard. This is exactly how PrC's should work.

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by Riffington View Post
    The Alienist is everything a PrC should be.
    You give up something to do it, and you get something of comparable power. The things you give up and get make perfect sense for the class concept. Becoming an Alienist is approximately as powerful as staying straight Wizard. This is exactly how PrC's should work.
    No, it's actually not, unless you rule that Pseudonatural gets applied to all of the Outsiders instead of just removing them from the list (removing them is, I believe, both RAW and RAI, though I am AFB at the moment). They're a Summon Monster-focused class that has removed 85% of the reason to cast Summon Monster.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Starbuck_II's Avatar

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by DragoonWraith View Post
    No, it's actually not, unless you rule that Pseudonatural gets applied to all of the Outsiders instead of just removing them from the list (removing them is, I believe, both RAW and RAI, though I am AFB at the moment). They're a Summon Monster-focused class that has removed 85% of the reason to cast Summon Monster.
    Nope, you had it right. No non-animals for the Alienist.
    If you want a freaky doggy: you can have one.
    If you wanted a Lemure, you can't because Alienist love animals. Yes, that kind of love. That is also why they get Cha based penalty: no one likes Furries.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Pluto's Avatar

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by Riffington View Post
    The Alienist is everything a PrC should be.
    I'd completely agree if it weren't for the Augment Summoning requirement combined with the lack of SLA's on the summons list.

    I agree that a PrC should have sacrifices associated with its benefits.
    I disagree that a PrC should sacrifice competency in the area of its specialization.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    They shouldn't have spells that summon Outsiders - they don't deal with the Planes, they deal with the far realms.
    You want to summon Far Realm creatures with SLA's? Sure, but you have to make a pact with such a creature first. Such a pact doesn't make sense as a class feature; it has to happen in-game. Fortunately, no creatures with good SLAs come until high levels; by that point you should have plenty of opportunities for contact with Tentacled Masters.

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    But none of that is part of the class's design, that is all house-rule. Which makes the PrC poorly designed, because you have to house-rule it to competency in its area of expertise. Hence, not a good PrC, and certainly not everything a PrC should be.

    Now, if the PrC added suitable Aberrations to the Summon Monster lists in place of the Outsiders that were lost, and gave suitable fluff support for why you're able to summon them as you level, then it would be a fine example of everything a casting PrC should be.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    It is competent at its design. Uber, in fact. It's a *full caster*. There's nothing houserule required.

    What it doesn't have is *events*. If you want events to occur (actually bring Cthulhu here, actually talk to an Elder Being, etc...) you have to go do them.

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    DragoonWraith's Avatar

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    PrC balance level is indicated by how it compares to not taking the PrC. I do not care to discuss any other metric by which a PrC's balance can be judged, since in all cases that is a problem with an imbalanced entry class, not the PrC itself.

    Conjurer 10/Alienist 10 is a worse summoner than Conjurer 20. Alienist is a poorly designed PrC.

  21. - Top - End - #21

    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    And don't forget that TECHNICALLY, a Beholder/Beholderkin could be on par with an outsider. Plus, you have Elder Brains and Aboleth quasideities, so what's wrong with abberation summoning? Every DM I've asked said all Aberrations are allowed for Alienist's summoning. That, and many "broaden" pseudonatural to encompass larger spectrum of monsters (such as a Pseudonatural Cryohydra or Red Dragon)

    Overall, Alienist is cool for both fluff and crunch

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Divayth Fyr's Avatar

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by ~LuckyBoneDice~ View Post
    And don't forget that TECHNICALLY, a Beholder/Beholderkin could be on par with an outsider. Plus, you have Elder Brains and Aboleth quasideities, so what's wrong with abberation summoning? Every DM I've asked said all Aberrations are allowed for Alienist's summoning. That, and many "broaden" pseudonatural to encompass larger spectrum of monsters (such as a Pseudonatural Cryohydra or Red Dragon)
    All these are houserules - the Alienist as written is a weak choice, even if it is a straight caster.

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by karpik777 View Post
    All these are houserules - the Alienist as written is a weak choice, even if it is a straight caster.
    Still, flavor-wise, its cool overall. So what if its weak? Its that Fear of it, like Blood Magus and Dread Pirate. Sure, mechanically its underpowered, but in the casual game, its a blast to play

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by DragoonWraith View Post
    Conjurer 10/Alienist 10 is a worse summoner than Conjurer 20. Alienist is a poorly designed PrC.
    Alienists are better at other things (ie knowledge of and dealings with Horrors from Beyond Space and Time. They are not supposed to be dedicated summoners. For that you want a different PrC.
    Last edited by Riffington; 2010-04-20 at 11:23 AM.

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by Riffington View Post
    Alienists are better at other things (ie knowledge of and dealings with Horrors from Beyond Space and Time. They are not supposed to be dedicated summoners. For that you want a different PrC.
    ie: Malconvoker, Master Specialist, Arcane Heirophant

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by Riffington View Post
    Alienists are better at other things (ie knowledge of and dealings with Horrors from Beyond Space and Time. They are not supposed to be dedicated summoners. For that you want a different PrC.
    In that case, the prerequisites should be changed.
    If it required Skill Focus: Knowledge (the Planes) instead of Augment Summoning, I would have no objection to the class.

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by Riffington View Post
    Alienists are better at other things (ie knowledge of and dealings with Horrors from Beyond Space and Time. They are not supposed to be dedicated summoners. For that you want a different PrC.
    I'm AFB, as mentioned, so I'll have to go back over the class... but the fact that their major, most noticeable class feature affects Summon Monster, and they have Augment Summoning as a pre-requisite, suggests that your interpretation is wrong.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pluto View Post
    In that case, the prerequisites should be changed.
    If it required Skill Focus: Knowledge (the Planes) instead of Augment Summoning, I would have no objection to the class.
    That's probably a good idea. It does make pseudonautral monsters feel weaker though...

    There are two potential problems with the Prestige class. The first is that the last three levels are often very unappealing. You lose sanity, gain a penalty to social interaction, and then turn into an outsider. It's a story ending to the prestige class that fits the flavour wonderfully but doesn't appeal to those trying to make a powerful build.

    The second problem is the monster summoning ability. You lose the ability to summon any monster that's not already got a template. At low levels this isn't a problem, but at high levels there are large numbers of monsters that are useful because of their spellcasting or special abilities, that you now can't get. Furthermore, that same group are also the only ones who can speak, which means you're going for a very different feel to a normal wizard with summoning spells. Finally the sheer number of choices gets increasingly thin at high level, with the templated creatures simply not keeping pace with the more exotic options.


    That said, the monsters you can summon are better than their normal equivalents. The pseudonatural template is mechanically better than the fiendish or celestial one, and the true strike ability in particular is enough to make summoned monsters viable in situations where they wouldn't be otherwise. You've already come up with the pseudonatural rhino, which with true strike becomes effectively a no-save direct damage spell. However, the real star of the show is the pseudonatural dire weasel. It only needs to attack once per combat, and while it's easy for an opponent to kill or grapple their way free of the creature, those are attacks that won't be directed at the party. A pack of d4+1 of them is almost guarenteed to both tie up the monster's attacks for the first round and do some con damage into the bargain.

    The other advantages of the class are even better. Full familiar progression, a template for the familiar, an extra spell slot at your highest level, these are all excellent abilities, provided they are abilities that you actually want to use.

    I think the class suits a wizard who wants the alienist look at feel. It's also one of the best p classes out there for boosting your familiar. It's not a summoner's class, which is why so many dislike it. It's not great for the last few levels.

    If you want to make it better...
    Add the kiorti and the skybleeder from Fiend folio to the monster summoning list. They're both from the far realms, and suit the class. Negotiate with the DM to add some additional monsters to the high end of the summon monster tables. Either things that are roughly similar to the templated monster that are there already, or things that would particularly suit a far realms summoner.

    And then don't bother with the last three levels, and go for something else.
    ;-)

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    Optimystik's Avatar

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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by Riffington View Post
    The Alienist is everything a PrC should be.
    You give up something to do it, and you get something of comparable power. The things you give up and get make perfect sense for the class concept. Becoming an Alienist is approximately as powerful as staying straight Wizard. This is exactly how PrC's should work.
    How is a summoning PrC that makes you worse at summoning an example of a good PrC?

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: An Alienist Fix?

    Quote Originally Posted by Optimystik View Post
    How is a summoning PrC that makes you worse at summoning an example of a good PrC?
    It's not a summoning PrC. It just looks superficially like one.
    It's an interstellar communication PrC. Summoning (and Knowledge the Planes) are needed to get a glimpse of the unworldly, and the pseudonatural summons are a really creepy and really cool side benefit. But they are not the main point of the class, just its most noticeable feature.

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