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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Post [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    At what point is a class broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Yup. I copy/pasted the title as my question. Basically, I mean this question as it pertains to two things:

    1)Class tier.
    2)Level of optimization.

    For example - and as a question to launch discussion - is a Tier 2 class broken? Or just good? Tier 3 (from my experience as a 'brewer) has generally struck me as the sweet spot, but in my own gaming experience I've witnessed optimized wizards get bashed in by earth elementals (this was actually really funny...) and a rogue (this was my 1st character ) slaughter the evil bandit-archmage.

    On the other hand, would you consider Tier 4 to be underpowered? The gap (to me at least) between Tier 4 and 5 has always struck me as immense. I'd happily play a warlock, I've loved some scout builds I've used, and witnessed some hexblades wreak havoc. On the other hand Fighters and Monks are all but useless...

    That just turned into a tier essay...so basically you should use the title as the main idea on this thread (since I'm sidetracking myself...)
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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Gah, I've tried like 3 times to write something that sounds intelligent, but each time I can't figure it out.

    At level 17, a Monk can speak with any living creature.
    At level 17, a Ranger can Hide in Plain Sight.
    At level 17, a Wizard can grant Wishes.

    Make of that what you will.

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Quote Originally Posted by INoKnowNames View Post
    Gah, I've tried like 3 times to write something that sounds intelligent, but each time I can't figure it out.

    At level 17, a Monk can speak with any living creature.
    At level 17, a Ranger can Hide in Plain Sight.
    At level 17, a Wizard can grant Wishes.

    Make of that what you will.
    False: A Ranger can only Hide in Plain Sight in "natural" terrain.

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    To me, the answer to your question is a pair of other questions:

    "Does the class do what it claims to do?"

    If the class does not perform as described, then it is broken. You want to play [x], but the class abilities make it function as [y]. For example (and to intentionally use ridiculous examples), if you play a Short Order Fry Cook, you should expect to have skills that support such a thing. If the SOFC is actually terrible at cooking, but amazing at corporate merger litigation, that class is broken because the mechanics do not support the core element of the class.

    This is different from a class being versatile. A class which has options is good, so long as those options include the thing or things which the class is described as being capable of doing.

    "Does the class make other classes irrelevant, or is it made obsolete by another class?"

    If your concept is better fulfilled by another class, then your chosen class is underpowered. It may have promised [x] and delivered [x], but if another class can do [x] and do it better, why would you use the mechanics of your first class? To continue the above example, you chose Short Order Fry Cook, because you want to be able to cook tasty food quickly. Your friend took Gourmet Cook because he wants to prepare high-end food meals that are a blend of art and deliciousness. Now, in our game (which has apparently become a cooking game), those are two very different roles with two very different skill sets. A 5-star restaurant and a greasy-spoon diner both have their place and appeal, but confusing the two is probably not going to happen. However, if the Gourmet Cook is both a gourmet cook and also a better short order fry cook than the SOFC, then why would anyone ever play the SOFC? The class being invalidated by another class makes it underpowered.

    --

    In my eyes, at least, power level doesn't matter as an absolute, but as a practical degree of relevance and application.

    You play a low-powered system for a low-powered game, and that is good.

    You play a high-powered system for a high-powered game, and that is good.

    You play a low-powered system for a low-powered game, except for Bob, who regularly outshines everyone else and breezes through the challenges, and that is not so good.

    Power only matters in how able you are to remain relevant to the rest of the party (and vice versa) and how able you are to fulfill your character concept within the game world.
    "Inveniam viam aut faciam -- I will either find a way, or I shall make one."

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    What level can wizards with any creature?

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    You're looking at it all wrong.
    The tiers are not meant for that. Tier 3 is not "better" than tier 1 or 2 or 6, even. Tier 3 is tier 3. The tiers were created so anyone can play within the same level of relative power without stepping on each other toes.
    The tier system itself descibres tier 1 and 2 classes as possible gamebreakers. Of course, you can take pains not to do this (specially on tier 2, where you have to actively try to break anything).
    Some people prefer playing at tier 1 or 2, some prefer playing at tier 3. It does feel like most people prefer playing at tier 3.
    About tier 4 and 5, the gap you're talking about is not as big as one might think, IMHO. Tier 5 is "tier 4, just weaker". Dungeoncrasher Fighter is usually considered tier 4 (as opposed to the t5 Fighter) and Hexblade is many times considered tier 5, even. There are many Monk tricks around, even. Paladin is t5, but an optimized Paladin not only can deal respectable damage comparable to a Dungeoncrasher, but he can fly (winged mount), solve social encounters (Diplomacy and high Cha) and has good defenses (Divine Grace, immunity to fear and disease). It just takes more effort to bring the Paladin (choose spells, mount and feats as mechanically optimal) up than it takes for the Fighter (buy Dungeonscape and download Champions of Valor web enhancement).
    My point is... you're working on a flawed assumption. Tiers were designed as you think they were. The best you can get from this thread is people saying "I like tier x".

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    I think the metric is relative.

    Classes are broken relative to a DM that cannot find a way to challenge the class - it just walks over everything he can think of.

    Classes are under powered relative to a DM that cannot find a way to have that class contribute to overcoming challenges in a way fun for that class's player.

    Classes are broken/under powered relative to each other if they share a campaign and one of them makes the other's player feel that he is not contributing.

    Thus a particular DM might be able to run a Tier 1 game just fine. Another DM might find a way to run a Tier 6 game that is fun for all involved. If you have a Tier 1 and Tier 6 in the same game, well, the Tier 1 character would need to hold back quite a lot or the Tier 6 character will not have anything to do and the player of that character won't have fun.

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    Thumbs up Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fatebreaker View Post
    To me, the answer to your question is a pair of other questions:

    "Does the class do what it claims to do?"

    If the class does not perform as described, then it is broken. You want to play [x], but the class abilities make it function as [y]. For example (and to intentionally use ridiculous examples), if you play a Short Order Fry Cook, you should expect to have skills that support such a thing. If the SOFC is actually terrible at cooking, but amazing at corporate merger litigation, that class is broken because the mechanics do not support the core element of the class.

    This is different from a class being versatile. A class which has options is good, so long as those options include the thing or things which the class is described as being capable of doing.

    "Does the class make other classes irrelevant, or is it made obsolete by another class?"

    If your concept is better fulfilled by another class, then your chosen class is underpowered. It may have promised [x] and delivered [x], but if another class can do [x] and do it better, why would you use the mechanics of your first class? To continue the above example, you chose Short Order Fry Cook, because you want to be able to cook tasty food quickly. Your friend took Gourmet Cook because he wants to prepare high-end food meals that are a blend of art and deliciousness. Now, in our game (which has apparently become a cooking game), those are two very different roles with two very different skill sets. A 5-star restaurant and a greasy-spoon diner both have their place and appeal, but confusing the two is probably not going to happen. However, if the Gourmet Cook is both a gourmet cook and also a better short order fry cook than the SOFC, then why would anyone ever play the SOFC? The class being invalidated by another class makes it underpowered.

    --

    In my eyes, at least, power level doesn't matter as an absolute, but as a practical degree of relevance and application.

    You play a low-powered system for a low-powered game, and that is good.

    You play a high-powered system for a high-powered game, and that is good.

    You play a low-powered system for a low-powered game, except for Bob, who regularly outshines everyone else and breezes through the challenges, and that is not so good.

    Power only matters in how able you are to remain relevant to the rest of the party (and vice versa) and how able you are to fulfill your character concept within the game world.
    This. This is a very skillfully crafted, clever post that describes what class balance boils down to. It describes balance while divesting it from any specific system, and thus divesting from any preformed biases and assumptions. It should be linked at every balance discussion.

    I applaud you, Fatebreaker
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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    It's subjective, but, to be really short, tier 5's are generally about too weak to be useful to a group that's even moderately optimized (because there will be one or more other characters that can do the same things as well or better), and tier 1's are only potentially game breaking. I think it's easier for a DM (or, preferably, a responsible player) to keep a strong class from becoming game breaking than it is for a DM/player to make a weak class competent.

    In practice, though, it's going to depend on the quality of the players involved, and the level of your campaign. The tiers at level 1 are a lot different than at level 20. If you're one of the many people who hardly ever play past level 5, you're going to be looking at the tier system and wondering why the heck wizards are ranked so high, because they don't have the spell slots (or spells, most likely) to do it all at low levels, and a stiff breeze can knock them into negative hit points.
    Last edited by Bhaakon; 2012-04-25 at 12:52 AM.

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    I agree with Fatebreaker that power is relative in class design. More specifically, it's when a character gains incredible power without any meaningful price that it becomes broken. I've heard that in AD&D 2e, if a wizard screwed up a Shapechange, he'd die. In D&D 3.5, this same wizard will suffer no setbacks if he botches his spell. So, there's no real risk to him.

    Also, penalizing him in a fashion unrelated to his primary abilities is equally useless, since, as Traits and Flaws show, he can just min-max.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bhaakon View Post
    It's subjective, but, to be really short, tier 5's are generally about too weak to be useful to a group that's even moderately optimized (because there will be one or more other characters that can do the same things as well or better), and tier 1's are only potentially game breaking. I think it's easier for a DM (or, preferably, a responsible player) to keep a strong class from becoming game breaking than it is for a DM/player to make a weak class competent.
    The thing about game design is that you can't trust the gamers to begood at it. Some DMs are inexperienced. Some are just altogether poor. It's one of the designer's responsibilities to create a system that can mitigate these human flaws.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bhaakon View Post
    In practice, though, it's going to depend on the quality of the players involved, and the level of your campaign. The tiers at level 1 are a lot different than at level 20. If you're one of the many people who hardly ever play past level 5, you're going to be looking at the tier system and wondering why the heck wizards are ranked so high, because they don't have the spell slots (or spells, most likely) to do it all at low levels, and a stiff breeze can knock them into negative hit points.
    That's also a poor example of game design. Creating something underpowered at low levels and overpowered at high levels is not balance. It's quite the opposite.
    Last edited by Grinner; 2012-04-25 at 01:01 AM.

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    Post Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fatebreaker View Post
    To me, the answer to your question is a pair of other questions:

    "Does the class do what it claims to do?"

    If the class does not perform as described, then it is broken. You want to play [x], but the class abilities make it function as [y]. For example (and to intentionally use ridiculous examples), if you play a Short Order Fry Cook, you should expect to have skills that support such a thing. If the SOFC is actually terrible at cooking, but amazing at corporate merger litigation, that class is broken because the mechanics do not support the core element of the class.

    This is different from a class being versatile. A class which has options is good, so long as those options include the thing or things which the class is described as being capable of doing.

    "Does the class make other classes irrelevant, or is it made obsolete by another class?"

    If your concept is better fulfilled by another class, then your chosen class is underpowered. It may have promised [x] and delivered [x], but if another class can do [x] and do it better, why would you use the mechanics of your first class? To continue the above example, you chose Short Order Fry Cook, because you want to be able to cook tasty food quickly. Your friend took Gourmet Cook because he wants to prepare high-end food meals that are a blend of art and deliciousness. Now, in our game (which has apparently become a cooking game), those are two very different roles with two very different skill sets. A 5-star restaurant and a greasy-spoon diner both have their place and appeal, but confusing the two is probably not going to happen. However, if the Gourmet Cook is both a gourmet cook and also a better short order fry cook than the SOFC, then why would anyone ever play the SOFC? The class being invalidated by another class makes it underpowered.

    --

    In my eyes, at least, power level doesn't matter as an absolute, but as a practical degree of relevance and application.

    You play a low-powered system for a low-powered game, and that is good.

    You play a high-powered system for a high-powered game, and that is good.

    You play a low-powered system for a low-powered game, except for Bob, who regularly outshines everyone else and breezes through the challenges, and that is not so good.

    Power only matters in how able you are to remain relevant to the rest of the party (and vice versa) and how able you are to fulfill your character concept within the game world.
    This is brilliant. If it's ok with you, I might actually put it in my sig (at least a link...)

    Quote Originally Posted by JadePhoenix View Post
    You're looking at it all wrong.
    The tiers are not meant for that. Tier 3 is not "better" than tier 1 or 2 or 6, even. Tier 3 is tier 3. The tiers were created so anyone can play within the same level of relative power without stepping on each other toes.
    The tier system itself descibres tier 1 and 2 classes as possible gamebreakers. Of course, you can take pains not to do this (specially on tier 2, where you have to actively try to break anything).
    Some people prefer playing at tier 1 or 2, some prefer playing at tier 3. It does feel like most people prefer playing at tier 3.
    About tier 4 and 5, the gap you're talking about is not as big as one might think, IMHO. Tier 5 is "tier 4, just weaker". Dungeoncrasher Fighter is usually considered tier 4 (as opposed to the t5 Fighter) and Hexblade is many times considered tier 5, even. There are many Monk tricks around, even. Paladin is t5, but an optimized Paladin not only can deal respectable damage comparable to a Dungeoncrasher, but he can fly (winged mount), solve social encounters (Diplomacy and high Cha) and has good defenses (Divine Grace, immunity to fear and disease). It just takes more effort to bring the Paladin (choose spells, mount and feats as mechanically optimal) up than it takes for the Fighter (buy Dungeonscape and download Champions of Valor web enhancement).
    My point is... you're working on a flawed assumption. Tiers were designed as you think they were. The best you can get from this thread is people saying "I like tier x".
    I disagree. If I understand correctly, you're saying it's more difficult to close the gap but not impossible (a.k.a. you state that you can bring up a fighter via dungeoncrash and zhentarim). However, is there not a point where the gap is insurmountable? An optimized zhentarim dungeoncrash fighter is not stronger then a wizard at any point, regardless of the wizard's optimization or lack thereof. On the other hand, I feel like I'm missing something from what you said, so a clarification would be appreciated

    Quote Originally Posted by Particle_Man View Post
    I think the metric is relative.

    Classes are broken relative to a DM that cannot find a way to challenge the class - it just walks over everything he can think of.

    Classes are under powered relative to a DM that cannot find a way to have that class contribute to overcoming challenges in a way fun for that class's player.

    Classes are broken/under powered relative to each other if they share a campaign and one of them makes the other's player feel that he is not contributing.

    Thus a particular DM might be able to run a Tier 1 game just fine. Another DM might find a way to run a Tier 6 game that is fun for all involved. If you have a Tier 1 and Tier 6 in the same game, well, the Tier 1 character would need to hold back quite a lot or the Tier 6 character will not have anything to do and the player of that character won't have fun.
    Which makes the Tier 1 broken and the Tier 6 unplayable. That's basic knowledge regarding tiers. I'm wondering more about where the threshhold for broken/unplayable is, even within tiers.

    Quote Originally Posted by kpenguin View Post
    This. This is a very skillfully crafted, clever post that describes what class balance boils down to. It describes balance while divesting it from any specific system, and thus divesting from any preformed biases and assumptions. It should be linked at every balance discussion.

    I applaud you, Fatebreaker
    Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bhaakon View Post
    It's subjective, but, to be really short, tier 5's are generally about too weak to be useful to a group that's even moderately optimized (because there will be one or more other characters that can do the same things as well or better), and tier 1's are only potentially game breaking. I think it's easier for a DM (or, preferably, a responsible player) to keep a strong class from becoming game breaking than it is for a DM/player to make a weak class competent.

    In practice, though, it's going to depend on the quality of the players involved, and the level of your campaign. The tiers at level 1 are a lot different than at level 20. If you're one of the many people who hardly ever play past level 5, you're going to be looking at the tier system and wondering why the heck wizards are ranked so high, because they don't have the spell slots (or spells, most likely) to do it all at low levels, and a stiff breeze can knock them into negative hit points.
    Tiers are subjective. But then wouldn't the broken/unplayable threshhold vary by levels? Obviously, a level 1 fighter is playable, if not stronger then, a level 1 wizard (debatable, but certainly not 4 tiers of difference). And optimization matters much less at that point...

    But truthfully, that seems to be a whole new discussion to me.
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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Mainly agree with Fatebreaker. The way I approach class balance:

    1. Identify what the class is actually supposed to do, mechanically, regardless of fluff claims. If the Short Order Fry Cook is an excellent manager but a poor cook that is of course bad design, but in has no implication on whether the SOFC is underpowered/just right/overpowered as a manager.

    2. Is the 'role' the class fills one that's needed often enough in a campaign to actually make the class useful? The SOFC might be the most awesome manager ever, but he'd be next to useless in a traditional D&D campaign, because adventurers rarely (if ever) come across management problems.

    3. Can the class fulfill it's intended role vs. level appropriate challenges with reasonable level of success? If it can't achieve a reasonable rate of success(the more dangerous the activity is, the better chance it must have to be considered adequate; 50-50 for opening a lock is ok, 50-50 for defusing a bomb or winning a fight to the death is not) at what it's supposed to be good for vs. an appropriate challenge it's probably too weak. If it can't really fail, then it's probably too strong.

    3. Is the class completely surpassed by other balanced classes at it's intended role? If so it's underpowered. Does the class completely surpass other balanced classes at their intended roles? If so it's too strong. I say balanced classes, because being better than a Monk at monk-ing around or being worse than a Wizard at anything wouldn't say much.

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    The thing about game design is that you can't trust the gamers to begood at it. Some DMs are inexperienced. Some are just altogether poor. It's one of the designer's responsibilities to create a system that can mitigate these human flaws.
    Well, yes and no. Perfect balance is a laudable theoretical goal, but ultimately takes a back see to designing a marketable game. And while there are certainly people out there who crave a perfectly balanced game, there are also plenty of people who want a forum to display their vast superiority in system mastery by making disproportionately powerful characters, others who don't want to sacrifice verisimilitude for balance, yet others who are emotionally attached to that various bits of unbalanced mechanics and fluff a game as old as D&D collects, and myriad other preferences that either directly or indirectly obstruct the goal of perfect game balance.

    I mean, look what happened with 4E. There's little doubt that it was a more perfectly balanced product than 3.5, but for many reasons (mostly, I'd suggest, because it was so much of departure from/repudiation of the previous editions), it ended up splitting the fan base.

    But this is a side discussion that risks derailing the the thread. I'll just leave it with the old adage, "you can't please all the people, all the time."

    That's also a poor example of game design. Creating something underpowered at low levels and overpowered at high levels is not balance. It's quite the opposite.
    Who said anything about balance? I only pointed out that the tiers at level 1 are different from the tiers at level 10, are different from the tiers at level 20. If you're asking about what classes are over/under powered, then you have to specify what level range we're talking about, because the answer is going to be different for each.
    Last edited by Bhaakon; 2012-04-25 at 01:41 AM.

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Quote Originally Posted by kpenguin View Post
    This. This is a very skillfully crafted, clever post that describes what class balance boils down to. It describes balance while divesting it from any specific system, and thus divesting from any preformed biases and assumptions. It should be linked at every balance discussion.

    I applaud you, Fatebreaker
    Thank you, but I don't deserve the credit. And much as I'd like to give some overly-humble speech about how it's all thanks to my extensive gaming library and four years of running a hobby center and all the wonderful hobbyists who helped me along the way, I really have to give credit to Waffle House, which I had a sudden craving for. Their greasy diner dinner was my muse and my inspiration, and I couldn't have done it without them.

    Mmm... waffles...

    Quote Originally Posted by Vilpich View Post
    This is brilliant. If it's ok with you, I might actually put it in my sig (at least a link...)
    Go right ahead. Thank you for asking. Just make sure to credit Waffle House, too, 'cause that's a true story.
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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vilpich View Post
    I disagree. If I understand correctly, you're saying it's more difficult to close the gap but not impossible (a.k.a. you state that you can bring up a fighter via dungeoncrash and zhentarim). However, is there not a point where the gap is insurmountable? An optimized zhentarim dungeoncrash fighter is not stronger then a wizard at any point, regardless of the wizard's optimization or lack thereof. On the other hand, I feel like I'm missing something from what you said, so a clarification would be appreciated
    I was adressing specifically the gap between tiers 4 and 5 that you mentioned. Basically, that gap is not as big as you believe it is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vilpich View Post
    Which makes the Tier 1 broken and the Tier 6 unplayable. That's basic knowledge regarding tiers. I'm wondering more about where the threshhold for broken/unplayable is, even within tiers.
    That's my point, that's a flawed premise.
    A tier 1 game or a tier 6 game are perfectly fine as long as everyone is tier 1 or everyone is tier 6.
    I could go on about how balanced games are not necessarily a good thing, but that would derail the thread.
    I really advise you reread the tier system threads before using it as arguments because you do not seem to have understood the premise behind it.

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Quote Originally Posted by JadePhoenix View Post
    That's my point, that's a flawed premise.
    A tier 1 game or a tier 6 game are perfectly fine as long as everyone is tier 1 or everyone is tier 6.
    I could go on about how balanced games are not necessarily a good thing, but that would derail the thread.
    I really advise you reread the tier system threads before using it as arguments because you do not seem to have understood the premise behind it.
    Close. A T6 game is perfectly fine only as long as the DM puts on his kid gloves, because the T6es are not going to be capable of completing, or surviving, a CR-appropriate challenge, or any sort of challenge that is outside their laser-thin focus. Similarly, the T1s are going to be stomping all over pretty much everything and making the DM's job fiendishly difficult, because challenging such a party requires pulling all stops and sprinkling a healthy dose of fiat on top. Just see Tippy's games for how that goes.
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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    Close. A T6 game is perfectly fine only as long as the DM puts on his kid gloves, because the T6es are not going to be capable of completing, or surviving, a CR-appropriate challenge, or any sort of challenge that is outside their laser-thin focus. Similarly, the T1s are going to be stomping all over pretty much everything and making the DM's job fiendishly difficult, because challenging such a party requires pulling all stops and sprinkling a healthy dose of fiat on top. Just see Tippy's games for how that goes.
    The CR system doesn't really work. Figuring out if X is a challenge to your party or not is the DM's job anyway.
    But basically, yeah, that's what I meant.

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Quote Originally Posted by JadePhoenix View Post
    The CR system doesn't really work. Figuring out if X is a challenge to your party or not is the DM's job anyway.
    But basically, yeah, that's what I meant.

    True, but if you go to far toward 'weak', it will require significant effort and/or fiat on behalf of the DM not to kill you, whereas if you go too far toward 'strong', the DM will have to make serious efforts at customizing/optimizing/designing monsters because a well optimized tier 1 party can blow 99% of published enemies out of the water with very little effort.

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Quote Originally Posted by LordBlades View Post
    Is the 'role' the class fills one that's needed often enough in a campaign to actually make the class useful? The SOFC might be the most awesome manager ever, but he'd be next to useless in a traditional D&D campaign, because adventurers rarely (if ever) come across management problems.
    Is it wrong that now all I want to do is develop a class for D&D that is built entirely built upon restaurant management, whose class abilities have almost no bearing on combat? The player would run around the campaign, surrounded by somewhat effective characters, trying to shoehorn their elite array of restaurant management skills into every situation.

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    I consider "broken" the classes which gain something earlier than they should.

    Clear example is UrPriest - he can get 9lvl spells at ECL15, while the system (modules, encounters CR, etc) created so that PC obtain 9lvl at ECL17

    Or CDiv Bligher (before errata) - he could get some 6lvl spells (harm) at ECL10, and undead wild shape gives him benefits clearly from beyond his character level

    These are just examples instantly coming to my mind, because of the CDiv book nearby. Most of the books have something "broken", which combined with "brokeness" from other supplements can build a monster.

    Weakness of the class is very relative. If you could get something earliers or for the lesser price (fewer useless feats or with lower BAB/Saves) - that is the sign of weakness.
    Last edited by Fan67; 2012-04-25 at 05:49 AM.

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vilpich View Post
    Which makes the Tier 1 broken and the Tier 6 unplayable. That's basic knowledge regarding tiers.
    This is what I hate when people talk about tiers.

    Tier 1 is not broken, unless you mix it with lower tiers. Tier 6 is not unplayable, unless you mix it with higher tiers.

    A party with members that are all Tier 6 plays just fine. Same for a party with all Tier 1 members.
    Saying "Tier 1 is broken, Tier 6 is unplayable" means you are assuming I like to play at the same tier level you do.

    But I like variety. Once I actually imagined a campaign world with only Tier 6 classes (from unofficial sources as well, to increase variety).
    Aristocrats and mariners (from Dragonlance) were the skillmonkeys, samurai and gladiators (from Dark Sun) were Úlite warriors, divine minds were the supernatural champions of a deity, mlar (from Dungeon Magazine) were the mages...
    Far from unplayable. And every one of these classes felt really cool, when the rest of the world is commoners and warriors!
    Last edited by Fenice; 2012-04-25 at 05:54 AM.

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fatebreaker View Post
    To me, the answer to your question is a pair of other questions:

    "Does the class do what it claims to do?"

    snip

    "Does the class make other classes irrelevant, or is it made obsolete by another class?"

    snip
    Very good points. And they are even supported by the DMG (p. 13).

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fan67 View Post
    I consider "broken" the classes which gain something earlier than they should.
    I'd be careful with this, as "should" is a dangerous word. At what level "should" flight be available? Incorporeality? HiPS?

    Let's take a hypothetical PrC that gives you access to 9th level spells as early as, say, lvl 13. However, the only 9th level spells it can cast are Freedom and Soul Bind. These are high-level effects that are usually only available at 17th level. Is the class broken?

    I'd say not. They may be 9th level spells, but they're pretty terrible 9th level spells, hardly the sorts of things the DM needs concern themself about even as "low" as lvl 13. Characters at that level already wield tremendous power by any objective metric, and the spell effects themselves are nothing to write home about.



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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fatebreaker View Post
    To me, the answer to your question is a pair of other questions:

    "Does the class do what it claims to do?"

    ...

    "Does the class make other classes irrelevant, or is it made obsolete by another class?"
    +1

    In class design/redesign, one of the things I always look at is "what makes an X and X", and to make sure that the class can what it's supposed to do better than other classes.

    In a classic case of an underpowered class, the Monk simply does not do what it appears designed to do, which is to be a mage-killer. It's features look like it is supposed to resist spells, move quickly to get around the front lines, and lay into arcanists with Fort-save abilities. And if it could do that effectively, it'd be a pretty cool class -- it's just that the various abilities really don't wind up working well, or even together. A proper redesign of a Monk would focus on making its anti-arcanist abilities work more coherently, giving the Monk a niche that is unique and effective.


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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    It is subjective to the individual. Some people are enraged by Tier 1 for players should not have such power. Some people are enraged by Tier 5 because to them they do nothing significant. Some people pray to the Holy Tier 3 as the One True Way of Perfect Balance Gaming. Some people ignore the Tier system as irrelevant and just play the game, able to have druid, wizard, and cleric be in the same party as fighter, monk, and paladin without any problems whatsoever.

    However, it is possible particular game mechanics can make the game wonky. Gate chaining Solars for Wishes is an example of overpowering nonsense. Some people see this, get enraged, and ban Tier 1 because of it. Others just laugh at the absurdity of the technically possible happenstance and fiat it just doesn't happen. Truenamer is an example of uselessness. The class fails to function based on its own game mechanics. Some people see this, get enraged, and rant about the brokenness of the system. Others acknowledge it's a problem, make their own fixes if they like the concept (a simple one is getting rid of the x2 multiplier in the DC formula), or just ignore it as a failed experiment and do something else.

    The 3E system is not Absolutely Perfect In Everything It Does. It is up to the individual whether to be enraged about it or deal with the imperfections he finds imperfect for him to suit his own aesthetics.

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    I think a class is broken when it can replace another class, even if it has to jump through hoops to do so - the more hoops it has to jump through, the less broken it is, but I still consider it to be broken by design.

    I also consider a class underpowered when it fulfills at least one of the following two conditions:

    1) It can't do what its description claims it does.
    2) It can't do something which most, if not all, of the other classes can do in addition to doing their own things.

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Mostly what Fatebreaker said.

    Classes are balanced when everyone in the party is about equally capable and the monsters at their CR take about 20% of their daily resources to defeat. This is of course an ideal situation but it rarely happens.
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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bhaakon View Post
    Who said anything about balance? I only pointed out that the tiers at level 1 are different from the tiers at level 10, are different from the tiers at level 20. If you're asking about what classes are over/under powered, then you have to specify what level range we're talking about, because the answer is going to be different for each.
    That kind of goes back into the other point. In the design process, the designer is trying to create a complete game system, ideally capable of being played at any level while retaining a balance of power in comparison to other classes. When you need to start specifying level ranges, something's wrong with the setup.

    I'll also point out that the Tier system was constructed by the fanbase in order to mitigate the flaws in the 3.5's structure. In a perfect world, it shouldn't exist.

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    "Too powerful" and "not powerful enough" are always in relation to something. Usually, it's the other classes in the party.

    It can also be the setting. If your class can defeat the Lady of Pain in a straight fight or exterminate all demons at once, it's overpowered because that breaks the setting.

    Or it can be the campaign. If the plot centers on navigating a hedge maze, any source of flight is overpowered (this doesn't require banning wizards, just spells that grant flight).

    It can even be the CR system. If the class can reliably one-shot most level+2 encounters, it's probably overpowered. The CR system's pretty fuzzy, though, so this may say more about its flaws than about the ability.

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    Default Re: [3.5]At What Point is a Class Broken, and at what point is it under powered?

    What Fatebreaker said has a great deal of merit, but I would like to throw out a couple of caveats which he touched on that I would like to go over in a bit more detail.

    Level of Optimization was only briefly touched on, and this is a topic I speak on with some degree of passion, being someone who enjoys Practical Optimization, but also enjoys a good game.

    I am of the firm belief that since the level of optimization can vary enormously in a D&D 3.5 game, to the point where one person's level of optimization can make him literally unable to meaningfully contribute to the game, the gaming group and the GM need to come together before the start of the game and determine what level of optimization they want for the game.

    As an example, if you have a Batman Wizard, a Clericzilla, a Druid, and a Bardblade with DFI optimization which is specifically done to boost the attack strength of the summons from both the Wizard and the Druid... a Soulknife is going to feel useless, because the random disposable minions from the Druid and the Wizard are going to be more effective than he is, much less beginning to match any of the other characters abilities.

    By that same token... if the group is a Monk, a Healer, and a Fighter without any ACF's... the fully optimized Batman Wizard is going to make the whole group obsolete.

    What is 'overpowered' and 'underpowered' is dependent on the 'norm' for the game.

    I tend to play in a T3-ish environment for most of my games. Sure, there are wizards, clerics, and druids... but they don't utilize the class to the fullest. Sure, the Wizard has some metamagic feats... but he doesn't apply metamagic reducers. The Druid pretends Fleshrakers don't exist. The Cleric 'forgets' about Persist Spell, and prefers to use DMM: Chain Spell to buff up the party.

    Likewise, I strongly endorse ToB so that Melee can Have Nice Things too.

    Now, if someone were to want to play a Soulknife, I'd talk to them about the reasoning behind that decision. In fact, that did happen once. He was all set to play Zeratul... only as we all know, Soulknife doesn't really work that way.

    He ended up playing a Warlock with Eldritch Glaive, and loved every minute of it. I let him re-fluff HFW to be non-evil (kept the con damage requirement, and disallowed strongheart vest, so he took the Binder dip) and Legacy Champion to further it so he had relevant damage output, and did very well for himself. He was the party 'boomchuck'. The Wizard was just as happy to let him do the blasting, which left the wizard free for utility and battlefield control. Fun all around was had.

    To answer your questions straight:

    A class is broken in one of two ways:

    1) The class not only fulfills its own role, but the role of other classes as well, at the same time. See also: all of the T1 classes

    2) The class does not meaningfully contribute in its own role, or has so many mutually exclusive or conflicting abilities that it just doesn't work together. An example of this would be Monk. Flurry of Blows or increased speed... pick one, the other can't be used this round.

    2a) The class does not bring anything to the table that WBL cannot bring. Case in point: Soulknife. The big shtick is a nifty weapon you could pay for. Arcane Archer is another one, and for the same reason, only even moreso, because the entire class (except the 2nd level ability) can be replicated with a Greater Magic Weapon spell.

    Even though I'm the one who came up with Takahashi, I will freely admit that CW Samurai falls under #2 above. Quite bluntly, if it requires two PrC's, a dip from another class, feats from four different books, and an obscure armor enchantment from the last book WoTC ever published from 3.5... just to be able to be halfway competent at its only trick, which can arguably be negated by 3/4 of the encounters by mid-game... the class as written does not work as intended.
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