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    Default My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    I have watched and looked through many threads during my time as a roleplayers, and read through many/most of the books for D&D and Pathfinder and one complaint/concern I have come upon is how full spellcasters are so much more powerful. I has seen so many ways people have tried to fix the seeming issues with these classes yet one thing that has never come up is how Clerics, Druids, and Wizards were is 2nd edition.

    Now through and through I am still a 3.x Edition player, though I have found interest in Pathfinder, yet my gaming group only plays 2nd Edition D&D. Because I still want to roleplay I had needed to take a step back and play the older edition... and what I have found?

    Gary Gygax actually knew what he was talking about, yes roleplaying games now a days have more experience and resources to draw upon now but without Gary there would not be a D&D, a Pathfinder, and likely many other roleplaying games of the pen and paper/tabletop sort.

    What was his answer to the potential power level of each class? Well first off he had never intended for Fighters and Wizards to be on the same experience scale, the way he saw it becoming a skilled fighter took a lot less time then becoming a skilled wizard which could take a lifetime. The way the experience scales being setup because of this is that Wizard needed much more experience points to get to level 20.

    The reason Clerics, Druids, and Wizards are so powerful is because they are not supposed to level up as quickly as they do in 3.x and Pathfinder. They are not supposed to have access to higher level spells as quickly as they do. That and there is the general misconception that all additional sourcebooks are free game to use (when a DM can rule out many or even all of them) and even a misunderstanding of some of the spell rules. People have also forgotten that many rules are supposed to be enforced through roleplay.

    An example of this being the Polymorph school of spells, especially Shapechange. A part of the rules for the spells forgotten is that the character can only transform into that which they are familiar with, thus what they want to change into is effected by rarity and knowledge of what they want to become. So as a DM if a player says "my character becomes a dragon" I would ask, "has your character ever met a dragon? Has your character had time to study and research a dragon?" If the character has not and/or the player fails a knowledge roll they cannot become a dragon. This would also apply to Druids, at least it should I would need to check the rules, as how can a Druid become that which they have never seen or learned about? Heck it should be noted that the knowledge of dragons is covered through thw Knowledge (arcane) skill, which Druids do not have.

    The problem more often then not is power gamers and those seeking to find cheese in the rules... and back to the orginal intent of this thread also how 3rd edition messed up a number of balancing mechanics in its wish to simplify the classes. Because of this Clerics, Druids, and Wizard are now 'tier 1' as it is called around here. Not even Pathfinder has fixed the unbalance.
    Last edited by JonathonWilder; 2013-07-11 at 01:20 PM.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    The original Polymorph also put the recipient at a number of disadvantages due to unfamiliarity with the form. And the original Alter Self was a MUCH less cheesy spell.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by Scow2 View Post
    The original Polymorph also put the recipient at a number of disadvantages due to unfamiliarity with the form. And the original Alter Self was a MUCH less cheesy spell.
    Yes many spells cost the one casting them making the high level spells have very real game important when it comes to deciding when and if to use them.
    ... Clerics could be much more interesting in 2nd Edition because of specialty priests.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Knowledge of creatures is a 10+HD of the creature knowledge check.

    There are, what, eight knowledge skills?

    You can Take 10 on the knowledge roll to know about a creature.

    The polymorph and shapechange, etc., are limited by HD.

    So yea, it is super super easy at level 2 or so (when collector of stories kicks in), to be able to make all the knowledge checks you will ever need with polymorph, etc.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by JonathonWilder View Post
    I have watched and looked through many threads during my time as a roleplayers, and read through many/most of the books for D&D and Pathfinder and one complaint/concern I have come upon is how full spellcasters are so much more powerful. I has seen so many ways people have tried to fix the seeming issues with these classes yet one thing that has never come up is how Clerics, Druids, and Wizards were is 2nd edition.
    Given that that comes up in almost every discussion of the balance issues of 3.5, I suggest you ought to read more.

    Yes, 2e made it tricky to gain the sort of unbalanced power that is often easier to gain in 3.5. That doesn't make the power any less unbalanced. Making it require intelligence to break the game just means that only intelligent people get to break the game. The game is still broken.
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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavinfoxx View Post
    Knowledge of creatures is a 10+HD of the creature knowledge check.

    There are, what, eight knowledge skills?

    You can Take 10 on the knowledge roll to know about a creature.

    The polymorph and shapechange, etc., are limited by HD.

    So yea, it is super super easy at level 2 or so (when collector of stories kicks in), to be able to make all the knowledge checks you will ever need with polymorph, etc.
    Where does it say such? Should it not be up to the DM to decide how high the difficulty of a skill roll? Keep in mind I take familiarity to mean how the creature works not just appearance and the rarer the creature/monster the higher the roll needed.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    I'm AFB right now but if I recall correctly, in 1e and 2e the cleric leveled faster than the fighter.

    This said, PCs had less RAW ways to break the game. Much more of it required DM's decision. The fuzzyness of some mechanics always brought you back to rule 0. With 3.X and beyond, the options are so numerous that even monks and fighters can be optimized into ridiculousness.
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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by JonathonWilder View Post
    Where does it say such? Should it not be up to the DM to decide how high the difficulty of a skill roll? Keep in mind I take familiarity to mean how the creature works not just appearance and the rarer the creature/monster the higher the roll needed.
    In the Knowledge skills, in the SRD, PHB, and I believe the Monster Manual. To know that a basic creature, it's 10+HD. To know an extra useful bit, it's that +5. And the rules say what the rules say; to change them is to houserule, which should generally be mentioned to players ahead of time.

    http://www.d20srd.org/srd/skills/knowledge.htm

    "Check

    Answering a question within your field of study has a DC of 10 (for really easy questions), 15 (for basic questions), or 20 to 30 (for really tough questions).

    In many cases, you can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities. In general, the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monster’s HD. A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster.

    For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information."
    Last edited by Gavinfoxx; 2013-07-11 at 01:31 PM.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavinfoxx View Post
    Knowledge of creatures is a 10+HD of the creature knowledge check.

    There are, what, eight knowledge skills?

    You can Take 10 on the knowledge roll to know about a creature.

    The polymorph and shapechange, etc., are limited by HD.

    So yea, it is super super easy at level 2 or so (when collector of stories kicks in), to be able to make all the knowledge checks you will ever need with polymorph, etc.
    Or, if you are a wizard, have 1 rank in all knowledge skills and a good Int. Grab some small plus to knowledge items, (MW items should suffice for a while if allowed,) and it will be a while before you need anything else.
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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by JonathonWilder View Post
    Where does it say such? Should it not be up to the DM to decide how high the difficulty of a skill roll? Keep in mind I take familiarity to mean how the creature works not just appearance and the rarer the creature/monster the higher the roll needed.
    It says that in the knowledge skills section of the PHB. It's not based on rarity by the way, just number of hit dice. Evidently nobody knows much about Great Wyrm Silver Dragons, but everything about Wyrmling Silver Dragons is pretty common knowledge. Go figure. But if you can hit a DC 30 knowledge check, you probably know about all creatures up to 20 HD which is sufficient for most purposes. There's even spells to help with this... a Cleric could cast Guidance of the Avatar for a quick +20 to knowledge if they wanted, for example.

    And remember... most of the most insane forms can just be brought in. Want familiarity with a Solar? Gate one in. Now you've got one to talk to. Between knowledge skills, divinations, and summoning/calling, a Wizard really should have no problem knowing all about whatever creature he wants to turn into.

    JaronK
    Last edited by JaronK; 2013-07-11 at 01:34 PM.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Yea, I especially like the masterwork prayer beads of concentration, useful knowledges, forgery, spellcraft, etc.; combine them all into one, and it helps you with feeling calm and concentrating and remembering and such.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by Urpriest View Post
    Given that that comes up in almost every discussion of the balance issues of 3.5, I suggest you ought to read more.

    Yes, 2e made it tricky to gain the sort of unbalanced power that is often easier to gain in 3.5. That doesn't make the power any less unbalanced. Making it require intelligence to break the game just means that only intelligent people get to break the game. The game is still broken.
    Hmm, perhaps so. I have not read all or even most threads involving the subject but based on what I have read on the rules players often push the rules to get what they want.

    Ultimately it is up to both the DM and the players to make sure they game stays fun. If a player find a way to working a rule in a way that unbalances the game or that a DM find concerning he is within his right to say no. Also much unbalance can be said to come from allowing players unlimited access to all books when building their character.

    Lastly I leave a quote "The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules."

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Spells like shapechange never really defined what it took to count as being "familiar" with a creature, so a lot of people simply assume that means anything they want. I had the idea of limiting things like Summon Monster to a single creature per version of the spell known/prepared, but people tended to not like that either.

    In literature, wizards tend to gain their power by spending years or decades locked in a tower. But making 347 research rolls doesn't exactly make for exciting gameplay, so version 3.5 tried to drag Merlin, Gandalf, and the rest out of their ivory towers and make them play nice with the characters. Which, of course, didn't really work.


    I think the OP correctly identified that the issue is that with some of the power imbalance is having the kind of power that should be limited to a one-in-10 million individual (1 per world, basically) and handing it out like candy. I call this "magic ninja syndrome".

    So either you ban people from playing those classes, or your find a way to tone down the power. Because I've rarely seen it make for a fun game for 3/4 of the party to spend the game just toting the tissue-paper cannon from point A to point B. That's the plot of at least half the bad DM-NPC stories I've read.
    Last edited by Deepbluediver; 2013-07-11 at 01:55 PM.
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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by JaronK View Post
    And remember... most of the most insane forms can just be brought in. Want familiarity with a Solar? Gate one in. Now you've got one to talk to. Between knowledge skills, divinations, and summoning/calling, a Wizard really should have no problem knowing all about whatever creature he wants to turn into.
    There's always the old fallback of your character having a Solar nanny because your parents were burned to death by water elementals.
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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavinfoxx View Post
    Yea, I especially like the masterwork prayer beads of concentration, useful knowledges, forgery, spellcraft, etc.; combine them all into one, and it helps you with feeling calm and concentrating and remembering and such.
    This is what I mean, combining different items and sources to get what they want as fast and easy as possible. Sometimes I wonder if some only character about states and powers and not the roleplaying.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by JonathonWilder View Post
    Hmm, perhaps so. I have not read all or even most threads involving the subject but based on what I have read on the rules players often push the rules to get what they want.

    Ultimately it is up to both the DM and the players to make sure they game stays fun. If a player find a way to working a rule in a way that unbalances the game or that a DM find concerning he is within his right to say no. Also much unbalance can be said to come from allowing players unlimited access to all books when building their character.

    Lastly I leave a quote "The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules."
    However, I'd offer a corollary to that quote "Gamemasters should follow the rules unless absolutely necessary or risk drawing the ire of the players"
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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepbluediver View Post
    Spells like shapechange never really defined what it took to count as being "familiar" with a creature, so a lot of people simply assume that means anything they want. I had the idea of limiting things like Summon Monster to a single creature per version of the spell known/prepared, but people tended to not like that either.

    In literature, wizards tend to gain their power by spending years or decades locked in a tower. But making 347 research rolls doesn't exactly make for exciting gameplay, so version 3.5 tried to drag Merlin, Gandalf, and the rest out of their ivory towers and make them play nice with the characters. Which, of course, didn't really work.


    I think the OP correctly identified that the issue is that with some of the power imbalance is having the kind of power that should be limited to a one-in-10 million individual (1 per world, basically) and handing it out like candy. I call this "magic ninja syndrome".

    So either you ban people from playing those classes, or your find a way to town down the power. Because I've rarely seen it make for a fund game for 3/4 of the party to spend the game just toting the tissue-paper cannon from point A to point B. That's the plot of at least half the bad DM-NPC stories I've read.
    Players have come to feel they can get whatever they want and wish to boost the power of their characters over the overall fun for themselves and everyone else. Smart players can break the game no matter the rules, they will always find something.

    Yet this should not be punished instead it needs to be encouraged that players get creative when it comes the roleplaying not finding loopholes in the rules.

    Or perhaps full spellcaster gain spells slower, which is why I would encourage players to multiclass or prestige classesthat slow spellcasting and add flavor.

    Myself I would, lets say for Pathfinder, play a multiclass between the 3rd party Scholar and a Wizard or play a Bard though I want a storyteller so I wouldn't much care for the musical aspect.
    Last edited by JonathonWilder; 2013-07-11 at 01:44 PM.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by 3WhiteFox3 View Post
    However, I'd offer a corollary to that quote "Gamemasters should follow the rules unless absolutely necessary or risk drawing the ire of the players"
    Very true, DM should not abuse their power or players will leave. One idea I have is if a DM wants to house rule something wait until a campaign is done or get the agreement of the players.
    Last edited by JonathonWilder; 2013-07-11 at 01:45 PM.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Rules exist for the players, not the GMs. Rules allow a player to know the world enough to say "I solve this situation with these tools at my disposal" as opposed to just sitting there waiting for the GM to tell them which tools will work and which won't this time.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by JonathonWilder View Post
    Hmm, perhaps so. I have not read all or even most threads involving the subject but based on what I have read on the rules players often push the rules to get what they want.

    Ultimately it is up to both the DM and the players to make sure they game stays fun. If a player find a way to working a rule in a way that unbalances the game or that a DM find concerning he is within his right to say no. Also much unbalance can be said to come from allowing players unlimited access to all books when building their character.
    All that means is the power of the class is predicated on how much the DM understands the power of the class. The whole point of rules, the whole reason why DMs do indeed need them, is because DMs and players are fallible. With enough people and enough proofreading, you can achieve things that individuals rushed for time cannot. You can make a game that works, that is challenging and engaging and flexible for everybody, which no individual DM could create on their own. That's...why we play D&D.
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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by JaronK View Post
    Rules exist for the players, not the GMs. Rules allow a player to know the world enough to say "I solve this situation with these tools at my disposal" as opposed to just sitting there waiting for the GM to tell them which tools will work and which won't this time.

    JaronK
    That is partly true, as the rules are also for the GM so players don't get out of control. Also apart from the core rulebooks such as the player handbooks a DM can rule a class/prestige class/game mechanic does not fit their game.

    The "additional' tools other books give are just that, extra and not apart of the main books. It would be a foolish GM/DM indeed that allows all spells, feats, prestige classes ever made as smart players can and will use these additional options to their advantage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Urpriest View Post
    All that means is the power of the class is predicated on how much the DM understands the power of the class. The whole point of rules, the whole reason why DMs do indeed need them, is because DMs and players are fallible. With enough people and enough proofreading, you can achieve things that individuals rushed for time cannot. You can make a game that works, that is challenging and engaging and flexible for everybody, which no individual DM could create on their own. That's...why we play D&D.
    I agree, I admit I would be lost when it comes to running a game without rules. I much prefer structure yet also a game that allows creativity with both players and DMs.
    Last edited by JonathonWilder; 2013-07-11 at 01:54 PM.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by JonathonWilder View Post
    This is what I mean, combining different items and sources to get what they want as fast and easy as possible. Sometimes I wonder if some only character about states and powers and not the roleplaying.
    That's one source, the PHB.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by JonathonWilder View Post
    The "additional' tools other books give are just that, extra and not apart of the main books. It would be a foolish GM/DM indeed that allows all spells, feats, prestige classes ever made as smart players can and will use these additional options to their advantage.
    You are aware that a lot of the silliest/most broken material (for spellcasters, anyway) comes from Core, right? Wish, Miracle, Gate, Shapechange, Polymorph, Polymorph Any Object, Alter Self, Simulacrum, Time Stop, Commune, Contact Other Plane, (Greater/Lesser) Planar Binding, Freedom of Movement, Mind Blank, Mordenkainen's Disjunction, Astral Projection, Rope Trick, and Contingency are all in the Player's Handbook, and that's not even counting spells (and other options) that are just too strong, instead of broken.

    EDIT: Ninja'd on the sentiment. Also, I allow my players to use pretty much any official source that they want.
    Last edited by Karnith; 2013-07-11 at 04:59 PM.
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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by JonathonWilder View Post
    The problem more often then not is power gamers and those seeking to find cheese in the rules... and back to the orginal intent of this thread also how 3rd edition messed up a number of balancing mechanics in its wish to simplify the classes. Because of this Clerics, Druids, and Wizard are now 'tier 1' as it is called around here. Not even Pathfinder has fixed the unbalance.
    The notion that the game balance problems within 3.5 lie with "powergamers" is untrue. They are hardwired in, and not a result of individual players intentionally screwing things up.

    Take your polymorph example - in fantasy, shapechangers are an iconic image, and it is natural that 3.5 would try to incorporate them. So, here I am, a newbie to 3.5 and decide I want to play a shapechanger of some sort. I decide to take polymorph as my first spell at 4th level - is it my fault that the spell has specifically told me to go looking through the monster manual, grinding combat to a halt, and then gives me the perfect solution to any problem? Am I an annoying powergamer? Or is it that there was a problem with the rules as written?

    Now look near the end of 3.5, when the writers realized that a better way would be to make each form require it's own spell with more limited application, level, ect. Do any people actually think Trollshape, Fiendform, Displacer Form, or even Dragonshape and all the similar spells are unbalanced spells? Probably not, because they aren't just simple "I win" buttons. Newbie players can't unwittingly break the game if they are available in place of polymorph-like spells. I don't know that they even tried fixing the other broken core spells, but maybe I am forgetting something.

    The point I'm trying to make is that it is totally possible to support the things that characters want to do in a balanced way without some sort of restricting fluff to ward off powergamers as you suggest, but the rules did not do that originally. Just rule zeroing them away or trying to implement a gentlemen's agreement doesn't mean that the problem isn't there. I really like that people have identified this problem, and don't have a problem with attempts to fix it for other like minded groups.
    Last edited by DR27; 2013-07-11 at 04:23 PM.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by DR27 View Post
    The notion that the game balance problems within 3.5 lie with "powergamers" is untrue. They are hardwired in, and not a result of individual players intentionally screwing things up.
    A very good example of this is taking a party that's all the game as it was "meant" to be played (fighter with Weapon Spec, rogue who occasionally gets sneak attack, blaster wizard, healer cleric), and likely how a first-time group will end up playing. Then the wizard randomly decides to try out stinking cloud, and suddenly the wizard realizes they can cripple an entire encounter with one spell. Or realizing greater invisibility is a thing and that it would give the rogue tons more damage. Or a cleric realizing they can take that huge, terrible thing they fought and reanimate it. A druid barely has to try to overshadow a fighter at low level, really all it takes is saying "I want <awesome animal> as a pet and I'm going to turn into one too," which is the entire premise of the class. Pick an awesome animal and it's probably at least as good as the Weapon Spec fighter.

    In fact, newbies at the game are probably more prone to breaking things than those who optimize, because those who know the system will also know how to keep themselves in line with the other players.
    Proudly without a signature for 5 years. Wait... crap.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by JonathonWilder View Post
    What was his answer to the potential power level of each class? Well first off he had never intended for Fighters and Wizards to be on the same experience scale, the way he saw it becoming a skilled fighter took a lot less time then becoming a skilled wizard which could take a lifetime. The way the experience scales being setup because of this is that Wizard needed much more experience points to get to level 20.

    The reason Clerics, Druids, and Wizards are so powerful is because they are not supposed to level up as quickly as they do in 3.x and Pathfinder.
    Except nowadays it is more and more common for groups to throw XP out the window completely: the group levels when the DM says they level. This is because many find it a headache and don't want to deal with it, and some groups might not have regular membership, so it eliminates the XP disparity that would otherwise arise. Bringing back separate XP progressions is probably not desirable.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by lsfreak View Post
    A very good example of this is taking a party that's all the game as it was "meant" to be played (fighter with Weapon Spec, rogue who occasionally gets sneak attack, blaster wizard, healer cleric), and likely how a first-time group will end up playing. Then the wizard randomly decides to try out stinking cloud, and suddenly the wizard realizes they can cripple an entire encounter with one spell. Or realizing greater invisibility is a thing and that it would give the rogue tons more damage. Or a cleric realizing they can take that huge, terrible thing they fought and reanimate it. A druid barely has to try to overshadow a fighter at low level, really all it takes is saying "I want <awesome animal> as a pet and I'm going to turn into one too," which is the entire premise of the class. Pick an awesome animal and it's probably at least as good as the Weapon Spec fighter.

    In fact, newbies at the game are probably more prone to breaking things than those who optimize, because those who know the system will also know how to keep themselves in line with the other players.
    My favorite example of "breaking the game by accident" is the diplomacy skill.

    I want to be a party face type. I read the PHB, I choose bard. I make Cha my best score, 15 say. I take diplomacy and all three things that give a synergy bonus (all bard skills) and skill focus diplomacy and since I'm human persuasive. I also learn languages since I have lots of skill points and the only class in core that can do so cheaply.

    I'm use-impared in actual combat (sort of, in a low op party it turns out that the effect of the bard's inspire courage from singing or orating + his own attacks can easily make him responsible for more damage than anyone else).

    At level 2 synergy kicks in. My diplomacy bonus is +2 (ability) + 5 (ranks) + 6 synergy + 5 (feats) = +18.

    Still no real use in battle, except one day I actually read the skill description (novel I know), and discover that for -10 I can use it in combat, and that actively fighting is a "hostile" attitude while "indiferent" means there's no fight and takes a DC 25 (35 rushed). So I can make an enemy into a non-enemy with a roll of 17, not great. I don't worry about it and never do that.

    At level 5 the party wizard can give me a Circlet of Persuasion and I can cast Eagle's Splendor and my Cha went up a point.

    +27 to the check, now I can succeed 65% of the time at that hasty check, and I succeed EVERY time if I start talking prior to the fight starting since I can then take 10.

    Worse, most things I meet ARE NOT HOSTILE, I can use the longer roll and I face the lower DCs for other conditions, almost everyone I meet will take risks and suffer personal inconvienence to help me.

    At this point the game is nearly broken. No real special effort, one core item we can make ourselves so no magic-mart. If the wizard won't make the item I can do it myself at level 6.

    A bit more effort and the check gets to levels that give friendly and helpful and the game ends as GODS become my willing helpers, eager to do favors for me.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Based on reading between the lines about how pre-1980 players played this game, here were some bigger factors:

    (1) PCs were retired or semi-retired at Name Level. So how the game scaled in the double-digits hardly mattered.

    (2) Stats were leaner, so the difference between d4 and d10 was tremendous. (Your 4th level wizard with 10 HP is standing next to a 5th level fighter with 26 HP.)

    (3) Stats were leaner, so wizards did not necessarily gain an optimal array of spells. You rolled to attempt to gain a spell based on your Int, and a 15 Int was considered very good.

    (4) Extra spells were not easily available. Creating scrolls was for high level wizards and downright hazardous (a randomly cursed scroll could kill the caster).

    (5) The game emphasized combat, so expectations of survival that come with "protagonist" status did not exist.

    (6) Because of #5, PCs dropped like flies before they gained a little HP meat on them at 3rd or 4th level.

    (7) Because of #2 and #5, a wizard reaching 5th level was a relatively uncommon accomplishment.

    (8) "Parties" were larger. 3e emphasizes ~3-5 PCs, because that is the norm now. Look at the sample parties in early 1e modules -- they were 8, 10, 12 PC parties. Because of #7, it was not so important if the one powerful wizard in the 11 PC party kicked ass once or twice per day -- there were plenty of monsters for everyone to kill.

    (9) Because 9thish level was "high level", the game's "epic" top shelf rewards were not hoarded by the DM for later levels. Seeing other PCs in the party with a Sword or Sharpness, Vorpal Sword, Holy Sword, intelligent weapon, arrows of slaying, Wish from a genie was not a rare rare thing in single digit play. So the dumb Fighter was not necessarily so completely outclassed by the wizard's physics breaking spells.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Pathfinder conveniently provides three XP accumulation tracks for leveling. If the disparity of spellcasting and pointy sticks bothers colloquial you enough you can simulate 2E leveling by having pointy stick users use a more forgiving leveling chart than spellcasters. Personal opinion I find fighters using fast track while wizards use slow track to be too much; I'd rather there just be a one track difference: fighter fast/wizard medium or fighter medium/wizard slow.

    However, this gets messy if a character multiclasses. 2E multiclassing was gestalt with XP divided among the classes and level each class separately when the time comes. This won't work in 3E/Pathfinder style multiclassing. A make-shift patch is to give the character its own XP accumulation chart by averaging the two charts the individual classes would use. This isn't full satisfaction because usually a player doesn't multiclass 10/10. The character might be gunning for 16/4 or 3/3/prestige class.

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    Default Re: My Thoughts on Tier 1 Classes in D&D and Pathfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by DR27 View Post
    The notion that the game balance problems within 3.5 lie with "powergamers" is untrue. They are hardwired in, and not a result of individual players intentionally screwing things up.
    This. So very true.

    You may have some luck balancing things by limiting your group's charoppers/powergamers to tier 4-6 classes (martial) and core only, while your noobs/non-minmaxers have to choose tier 1-2 classes (casters) and may use any official sources. Unfortunately, the most likely outcome is that the charoppers' PCs will totally outclass the other PCs up to approximately lvl 10 and maybe give you a sweet spot of balance during lvl 11-14 before the casters take over the show. That's in addition to the potential problems with communicating why you've put different limitations on different players, and, as DR27 said, the risk of having one of your non-minmaxers stumbling across an "I win"-button and ruining the idea.

    IME, if you'd rather avoid having to implement tons of house rules, the only working solution is player "self-regulation". IOW talk to the players, decide on a tier the players should strive to keep their PCs in, and perhaps limit class choices to those in, or close to, that tier (to avoid having to make too many/major house rules). However, this requires experienced players with enough system mastery to be able to identify which components/combos that will or can make their PC OP or UP, plus enough maturity and intelligence to understand that in-party balance is fun for all and improves the game. And although it may be a solution, it still severely limits player choice and really shouldn't be required in the first place, especially not in a game as evolved and thoroughly tested as D&D.

    Example
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    In my group's first PF campaign (recently started, currently lvl 4), we've set the target at tier 3. Our party consists of a Crusader (ported from ToB), a Wild Shape Ranger (slightly house ruled for WS access), an Inquisitor and a (vanilla) Summoner. So far, all have about equal ability to shine without being one-trick ponies, and all are in or very close to tier 3. But it has required some work - I helped build the Ranger and I had to optimize the s**t out of PF's Ranger chassis to bring the PC up to par, while I had to give up on several ideas for my Summoner's eidolon to keep it from stepping all over the other PC's toes.
    Last edited by upho; 2013-07-11 at 06:48 PM.

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