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    Default Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Welcome to the tier one classes edition of retiering the classes. Yeah. The results here I fully expect to be a foregone conclusion, but if you want to pen a huge essay about the awesomeness of wizards, lovingly flowered with Tippy citations, be my guest. Or, better yet, you can argue they aren't tier one for whatever reason. That'd generate some fun times. You don't need to worry overmuch about justification length here. I'm just giving them all tier one and moving on with my life. I'ma keep these descriptions short (primarily including them in the first place because I like consistent formatting, and because it's a nice place to put page numbers).

    Archivist (HoH, 82): Just the ability to prepare spells off the cleric and druid lists is great. When you branch out some, you delve into insane power.

    Artificer (ECS, 29): Item use on this level practically represents spellcasting, and infusions are great too.

    Cleric: You get an amazing spell list, bolstered by domains, along with a bunch of cool stuff you can do with turn undead (including undead turning), and spontaneous curing on top of that.

    Druid: It's awesome. I have a whole handbook about it. Check it out.

    Sha'ir (DrC, 51): You basically have free access to the wizard list, and you get some divine access too. Awesome stuff.

    Wizard: And, last but not least, practically the definition of tier one. Best list in the game. It's more than enough, all on its own.


    What are the tiers?

    The simple answer here is that tier one is the best, the home of things on the approximate problem solving scale of wizards, and tier six is the worst, land of commoners. And problem solving capacity is what's being measured here. Considering the massive range of challenges a character is liable to be presented with across the levels, how much and how often does that character's class contribute to the defeat of those challenges? This value should be considered as a rough averaging across all levels, the center of the level range somewhat more than really low and really high level characters, and across all optimization levels (considering DM restrictiveness as a plausible downward acting factor on how optimized a character is), prioritizing moderate optimization somewhat more than low or high.

    A big issue with the original tier system is that, if anything, it was too specific, generating inflexible definitions for allowance into a tier which did not cover the broad spectrum of ways a class can operate. When an increase in versatility would seem to represent a decrease in tier, because tier two is supposed to be low versatility, it's obvious that we've become mired in something that'd be pointless to anyone trying to glean information from the tier system. Thus, I will be uncharacteristically word light here. The original tier system's tier descriptions are still good guidelines here, but they shouldn't be assumed to be the end all and be all for how classes get ranked.

    Consistent throughout these tiers is the notion of problems and the solving thereof. For the purposes of this tier system, the problem space can be said to be inclusive of combat, social interaction, and exploration, with the heaviest emphasis placed on combat. A problem could theoretically fall outside of that space, but things inside that space are definitely problems. Another way to view the idea of problem solving is through the lens of the niche ranking system. A niche filled tends to imply the capacity to solve a type of problem, whether it's a status condition in the case of healing, or an enemy that just has too many hit points in the case of melee combat. It's not a perfect measure, both because some niches have a lot of overlap in the kinds of problems they can solve and because, again, the niches aren't necessarily all inclusive, but they can act as a good tool for class evaluation.

    Tier one: Incredibly good at solving nearly all problems. This is the realm of clerics, druids, and wizards, classes that open up with strong combat spells backed up by utility, and then get massively stronger from there. If you're not keeping up with that core trio of tier one casters, then you probably don't belong here.

    Tier two: We're just a step below tier one here, in the land of classes around the sorcerer level of power. Generally speaking, this means relaxing one of the two tier one assumptions, either getting us to very good at solving nearly all problems, or incredibly good at solving most problems. But, as will continue to be the case as these tiers go on, there aren't necessarily these two simple categories for this tier. You gotta lose something compared to the tier one casters, but what you lose doesn't have to be in some really specific proportions.

    Tier three: Again, we gotta sacrifice something compared to tier two, here taking us to around the level of a swordsage. The usual outcome is that you are very good at solving a couple of problems and competent at solving a few more. Of course, there are other possibilities, for example that you might instead be competent at solving nearly all problems.

    Tier four: Here we're in ranger/barbarian territory (though the ranger should be considered largely absent of ACF's and stuff to hit this tier, as will be talked about later). Starting from that standard tier three position, the usual sweet spots here are very good at solving a few problems, or alright at solving many problems.

    Tier five
    : We're heading close to the dregs here. Tier five is the tier of monks, classes that are as bad as you can be without being an aristocrat or a commoner. Classes here are sometimes very good at solving nearly no problems, or alright at solving a few, or some other function thereof. It's weak, is the point.

    Tier six: And here we have commoner tier. Or, the bottom is commoner. The top is approximately aristocrat. You don't necessarily have nothing in this tier, but you have close enough to it.


    The Threads

    Tier System Home Base


    The Fixed List Casters: Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, and Warmage


    The Obvious Tier One Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard



    The Mundane Beat Sticks (part one): Barbarian, Fighter, Samurai (CW), and Samurai (OA)


    The Roguelikes: Ninja, Rogue, and Scout



    The Pseudo-Druids: Spirit Shaman, Spontaneous Druid, Urban Druid, and Wild Shape Ranger


    The Jacks of All Trades: Bard, Factotum, Jester, and Savant


    The Tome of Battlers: Crusader, Swordsage, and Warblade



    The NPCs: Adept, Aristocrat, Commoner, Expert, Magewright, and Warrior


    The Vaguely Supernatural Melee Folk: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife



    The Miscellaneous Full Casters: Death Master, Shaman, Shugenja, Sorcerer, and Wu Jen



    The Wacky Magicists: Binder, Dragonfire Adept, Shadowcaster, Truenamer, and Warlock

    The Rankings

    Archivist: Tier one.

    Artificer: Tier one.

    Cleric: Tier one.

    Druid: Tier one.

    Sha'ir: Tier one.

    Wizard: Tier one.

    And here's a link to the spreadsheet.
    Last edited by eggynack; 2018-06-10 at 09:23 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    I'd like to just take a moment to poop on the Artificer.

    Look, I get it. On paper, they're a Tier 1 wet dream. They can make any magic item. This means they can scribe any scroll, which means they have full access to essentially every spell in the game.

    True. In the sense that any problem can be solved by a specific spell, an artificer can solve any problem.

    However, I base a lot of my opinions on these matters on actual play experience. I have seen wizards and sorcerers become terrors of efficacy and power. I have experienced firsthand the awesome might of a cleric. Campaigns have been won and lost based on the presence or absence of one of these classes.

    Now, I haven't seen as many artificers in play due to their association with a very specific campaign setting, but I HAVE seen artificers in actual play, at low and mid levels. And the artificer routinely sucks.

    There's something about the limitations of their infusions, the fiddly complexity of their UMD-dependency, and how beholden they are to time that in play I have never seen an artificer even come close to the power (and fun) of a wizard, sorcerer, or cleric.

    The primary obstacle is the matter of campaign pacing. Most RL campaigns I've ever played (especially in Eberron) get a certain momentum going. Eventually the plot is in full swing, and stuff needs to get accomplished. The artificer quickly loses the ability to make magic items with any consistency, reducing him to a third-rate crossbowman.

    Again, on paper I'm familiar with the counterarguments. "An artificer should have a legion of homunculi in portable holes making items around the clock!" Yes, in theory, every artificer should. But it's such a long, bitter struggle at low levels until you have the capital and time to even begin making these things. At low levels, it's not even guaranteed that an artificer can activate scrolls they've penned themselves. It's like playing a friggin' Truenamer. "I hope I make this skill check! Otherwise my turn is wasted!"

    And by the time you can reasonably start making the big ticket items, the sheer amount of days required quickly becomes ludicrous. Even with the various time-reducing things out there, it'll take weeks and weeks to pop out a sexy new wand or what-have-you.

    If a wizard has to prep their usefulness for the day and play a bit of guesswork, the artificer often has to prep their usefulness for a campaign arc and hope they get it right, since having months of downtime is far from guaranteed.

    A necromancer might bog down pacing with the sheer complexity of managing tons of undead, but most of the time in character they just can pop a spell and go. The artificer has to ask their party for weeks or months of time before they're ready to go back to adventuring. Madness. It's a preposterous wrench in the gears.

    I guess most of my grievances are with how magic item creation is handled in general, but a class that is 100% dependent on those rules makes for a tedious garbage fire of a class that is way more handicapped in-play than char op theory would suggest.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Yeah, I've seen some arguments against their awesomeness before. I'm not super knowledgeable on the class though, so I tend to not get involved. I figured it'd definitely land in one either way, so I stuck it here, but an argument on it could be interesting.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by CockroachTeaParty View Post
    A necromancer might bog down pacing with the sheer complexity of managing tons of undead, but most of the time in character they just can pop a spell and go. The artificer has to ask their party for weeks or months of time before they're ready to go back to adventuring. Madness. It's a preposterous wrench in the gears.
    IIRC this is actually how the books assume the game is played, with adventurers having short periods of high activity between long periods of downtime. Like ancient vampires. I'm sure there's a deeper link there. If you want your super specific +1 Greatsword of Charging and Swinging and Purple and Beef w/Honey Glaze it's probably not just sitting on a shelf somewhere, you're going to have to get it commissioned most likely. Wizards take a day each to scribe spells. I'm sure the rogue wants to actually spend his money on living nicely for a little bit at least.

    Otherwise you wind up going from level 1 to 30 in under a month because the plots don't stop coming and they don't stop coming and they don't stop coming and they don't stop coming.
    Last edited by Zanos; 2017-02-21 at 10:01 PM.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    Yeah, I've seen some arguments against their awesomeness before. I'm not super knowledgeable on the class though, so I tend to not get involved. I figured it'd definitely land in one either way, so I stuck it here, but an argument on it could be interesting.
    I'd call it Tier 1, but with the biggest asterisk next to it you could muster.

    Consider the following:

    A long, arduous adventure against mindless monsters with little in the way of treasure. Sure, nobody relishes the prospect. But the cleric gains experience, the rogue gains experience, everybody gets XP. And everyone is stronger for it! New spell levels! More sneak attack! More feats, etc.

    The artificer in this scenario is much less well off. They need gold. Infusions just aren't going to cut it.

    Every time they use a scroll or cast from a wand, they're burning money. No other class is so reliant on hurling money at a problem.

    A cleric doesn't need money or time, just XP. A wizard would like money and time, but they don't need it. An artificer MUST have those resources, and their availability is at the whim of the GM and campaign pacing. That's the asterisk, right there. "Tier 1 if there's time and money." Not quite the same as Tier 1 full stop.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by Zanos View Post
    IIRC this is actually how the books assume the game is played, with adventurers having short periods of high activity between long periods of downtime. Like ancient vampires. I'm sure there's a deeper link there. If you want your super specific +1 Greatsword of Charging and Swinging and Purple and Beef w/Honey Glaze it's probably not just sitting on a shelf somewhere, you're going to have to get it commissioned most likely. Wizards take a day each to scribe spells. I'm sure the rogue wants to actually spend his money on living nicely for a little bit at least.

    Otherwise you wind up going from level 1 to 30 in under a month because the plots don't stop coming and they don't stop coming and they don't stop coming and they don't stop coming.
    That's the thing, though. I'm basing all of these opinions on actual play experience.

    I play a decent number of pre-written campaigns and adventures. Most see your character sprint from level 1 to the upper teens in a matter of months.

    Rise of the Runelords was the last game I ran in RL. In-character, the party went from level 1 to level 17 in about six months. ZOOM!

    So it's very campaign dependent. An artificer in a Kingmaker-style game is much better off, of course. But few classes tier ranking is so affected by this factor; a character has no control over pacing.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    I'd even be prepared to give it two entries: T1 with significant downtime, and T4 without.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Archivist: Tier 1.

    Artificer: Can't rank. I've never sat down and read through the class, much less played one.

    Cleric: Tier 1

    Druid: Tier 1

    Sha'ir: See Artificer.

    Wizard: Tier 1.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    I could go off on the artificer for a while longer, but here's a challenge in general:

    How good is the Druid, really? I mean, really really?

    I've never seen a high level druid in play, but I've seen a lot of low level ones, and each time, I would have rather had a cleric in the party.

    How many problems can the druid spell list and wild shaping really solve?

    I challenge the Druid's Tier 1 status!

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by CockroachTeaParty View Post
    I could go off on the artificer for a while longer, but here's a challenge in general:

    How good is the Druid, really? I mean, really really?

    I've never seen a high level druid in play, but I've seen a lot of low level ones, and each time, I would have rather had a cleric in the party.

    How many problems can the druid spell list and wild shaping really solve?

    I challenge the Druid's Tier 1 status!
    Are we going to challenge the Cleric, too? I'd much rather have a druid at low levels, particularly in a core-only game.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by CockroachTeaParty View Post
    I could go off on the artificer for a while longer, but here's a challenge in general:

    How good is the Druid, really? I mean, really really?

    I've never seen a high level druid in play, but I've seen a lot of low level ones, and each time, I would have rather had a cleric in the party.

    How many problems can the druid spell list and wild shaping really solve?

    I challenge the Druid's Tier 1 status!
    See, this is the kinda wacky fun I'm looking for. What problems can't the spell list and wild shape solve? I've gotta think the list is pretty short. There's things on that list earlier, but I think the companion compensates for some of those missing elements (a druid can't cast silent image, a wizard can't beat face efficiently), and later on I'm getting to the point where the list is near empty.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Broadly, I agree with Cockroach on the Artificer.

    Theoretically the Artificer is quite good. It can do any particular broken thing the Wizard, Druid, or Cleric can, it can do broken things all its own, it can break WBL, and it can pilfer spells at atrociously early levels.

    But practically it's not very good.

    Consider what is going to be the bread and butter of the Artificer for the early levels, and often for the game as a whole: activating scrolls.

    The DC to activate a scroll is 20 + the scroll's caster level. In most cases, this will be 20 + the Artificer's level. Assuming a CHA of 18, full ranks, the class and synergy bonuses, and no feats or items, the Artificer is looking at a bonus of 13 + his level (4 CHA, 3 base ranks, 2 from class/Spellcraft synergy/Decipher Script synergy)*. Obviously, the levels cancel out, and the Artificer needs to roll 7 or higher to succeed. That's a 35% failure rate, before we get down to the fact that the DCs on scrolls are seriously crappy.

    Even the usual standby of the Artificer (spell storing item) requires a DC 20+ UMD check to activate. This leaves the Artificer in the unenviable position of having to invest resources simply to get his abilities to work at all.

    Yes, there are pretty impressive things the Artificer can do. They can reduce item creation costs to a pittance. If they pump a pile of feats into it. They can stack huge amounts of metamagic into wands. If they pump a huge pile of feats into it. Effective Artificer builds rely on deep knowledge of the game, and a willingness to dig into very obscure books to find things like 2nd level animate dead or every cost reducer known to man.

    Ultimately, the Artificer is a class with two wildly different modes. In the hands of an effective optimizer, with broad access to splats, it is a strong contender for the best class in the game. In the hands of anyone else, it can be very close to useless. It's not like the Sorcerer or Wizard where just picking some good spells can get you pretty far. An Artificer that picks good spells is still looking at a spell failure rate of full plate when he tries to use them.

    I think the Artificer is a good argument for having multiple entries. A well played Artificer with good splat access is the equal of a Wizard or Cleric. A poorly played one can quickly fall to the level of a Barbarian or Ranger.

    *: For things that aren't scrolls, your bonus is lower, but the DC is usually fixed, so it kind of evens out. Still sucks at low levels.

    The Archivist suffers from a similar, if substantially less pronounced issue.

    Consider what the Archivist actually gets as a baseline. Two Cleric spells every level. That's not the equal of the Wizard's two Wizard spells every level, or the Cleric's all the Cleric spells. Yes, the Archivist can learn all the Druid spells. But is the marginal difference between "all the Cleric spells" and "all the Cleric spells plus all the Druid spells" really enough to make up for the cases where he's stuck with only a few Cleric spells?

    Don't even get started on the Magical Christmas Land scenario of finding Divine Magician scrolls of Wizard spells, or Geometer Death Master scrolls of 2nd level animate dead.

    Overall, I think the Artificer and the Archivist will tend to under-perform at low optimization levels, particularly the Artificer.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    So this is pretty clear cut. Pretty sure they are all Tier 1 with like two exceptions:

    Full Spell-casting is the theoretically best thing. Wizard has arguably the best list and the best access to it. Terrible Chassis and meh class features, but when played right get very good after a few levels. Heavily dependant on learning AND memorizing the right spells though. Lowest floor here and one of the few classes where you can literally makes things worse if played wrong. I had a player that tried literally buffing the enemy once.

    Sha-'ir is on the edge. Probably one of the weakest here, maybe even Tier 2. Not super familiar with them, but they are pretty much Sorcerers that can change their spells known each day. Yes in THEORY they have the same versatility as a Wizard, but they can fail to retrieve the spells they want, and gain limited spells per day and weakened progression like the Sorcerer. Maybe a Tier 1.5? Haven't actually used one/seen one used first hand.

    Druid. Weakest of the "Big Three" spell lists. Compensate by having great class features and the best Chassis of a Full Caster. They don't have as much "Screw you it's magic" as Cleric and Wizard lists, but compensate by being having the highest floor. Take Nature Spell. Congrats you will eventually get it right with some thought. Also Bears. Throw enough level appropriate bears at any encounter and you are at least a functioning Tier 3. Not like anyone can stop you as any spell you have can become "Summon Bear" at will.

    Cleric. It's a gish in a can. Buff. Smash faces. Or you can be a heal bot. Maybe summon a hoard of angels. Solid list, chassis that doesn't suck and the ability to choose new spells each day make this a solid standard. Probably the least versatile of the full casters before ACFs/PrCs, but they work as long as you choose the right spells. Probably one of the few classes you can make an entire party out of and still function across most levels and optimizations.

    Artificer: Err. This one might not be tier 1. It's CLOSE though. In theory with enough time and experience they are, but two problems. One; Crafting at low levels sucks and your UMD is unreliable. Two; Using straight RAW (which IMHO is stupid, but hey) they take FOREVER TO MAKE ANYTHING. If you can survive the first 3-5 levels AND you get TONS of down time, yes tier 1. They would have trouble hitting Tier 3 without these things though. I mean, you can spend 8 hours max each day. One item at a time. Takes one day per 1k GP of it's cost. +1 Flaming stick literally takes a week+ by RAW.

    Archivist: Yet again never played/used this. Correct me if I'm wrong though: Wizard, but they use Cleric/Druid/Paladin/etc spells instead? As in: It is a Divine spell, therefore I can cast it. Some abuse here, especially with short list casters and the fact that divine magic has solid support. Maybe even more issues with optimization than wizards, but nothing wrong with ALL THE DIVINE MAGIC. Biggest problem, yet again, is learning and using the right spells. If you can do so though, solid class that would be fun to play.
    Last edited by Zancloufer; 2017-02-21 at 10:32 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    As someone playing an archivist in a current game that assumed fairly easy standard divine scroll access (ie no unusual ACFs or the like, but domain, paladin, ranger, and druid scrolls were reasonably accessible), Archivist has just as much game breaking potential as a wizard. Of course, that's its upper potential.

    In a world where standard cleric and druid scrolls are the only ones easily available got for them to scribe, life gets a little rougher, and you lose a lot of fun spells that already never see the light of day.

    In a world where scroll shops/libraries are not a thing, you're down to the same danger that a Wizard has, trying to pick the two most useful spells to scribe each level, and praying (hah) that you find a divine scroll with something besides just core spells on them. That's a lot rougher of a place to be, but it's the same rough place a wizard would find itself in a similar world.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    See, this is the kinda wacky fun I'm looking for. What problems can't the spell list and wild shape solve? I've gotta think the list is pretty short. There's things on that list earlier, but I think the companion compensates for some of those missing elements (a druid can't cast silent image, a wizard can't beat face efficiently), and later on I'm getting to the point where the list is near empty.
    I like the Druid for Tier One under this set up a lot more than the old one.

    A Druid walks in the door with a list that has solid combat options (entangle, wall of thorns, baleful polymorph), a nice utility suite (including both scrying and healing magic, as well as all kinds of random stuff*), and Wild Shape to be a reasonable frontliner. That's just in core. Outside core you get the ability to throw down all kinds of weird, niche utility spells periodically. There's a spell out there (changestones) that turns one stone per four levels into a Lith. I don't know what the hell a Lith is, but if you ever need one of them per four levels, the Druid can just do that. The ability to pull out weird abilities like that at no long term cost is what makes Clerics and Druids good.

    The issue in the old system was always that you didn't get anything that was really broken. Wild Shape is enough to kick the Fighter to the curb, but it's not really in the same league as planar binding. You get shapechange, but you get it in the range where Healers and Truenamers are throwing around gate. There are options out there (that Fey summoning spell), but they're pretty obscure.

    There's another issue where being a Druid forces you to engage with the fractal nightmare that is figuring out how form changing works at this point, but most groups will just kind of ignore it unless you try to do something that both is very powerful and rests on a specific interpretation of the rules.

    *: goodberry? reduce animal? There's some weird stuff in there, but the beauty of divine casters is that you can just prepare that stuff if it seems useful, and having the option is absolutely free.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by CockroachTeaParty View Post
    That's the thing, though. I'm basing all of these opinions on actual play experience.

    I play a decent number of pre-written campaigns and adventures. Most see your character sprint from level 1 to the upper teens in a matter of months.

    Rise of the Runelords was the last game I ran in RL. In-character, the party went from level 1 to level 17 in about six months. ZOOM!

    So it's very campaign dependent. An artificer in a Kingmaker-style game is much better off, of course. But few classes tier ranking is so affected by this factor; a character has no control over pacing.
    That's the thing, though. I'm basing all of these opinions on actual play experience.

    I play a lot of pickup games on roll20, and most of the DMs don't write games such that if you don't do x thing by y date the universe explodes. If you take a month off it's not a big deal, the PCs aren't the gatekeepers of the multiverse and it doesn't explode/get infested with legions of undead/fall to demons/cease to exist because someone decided to spend some time with their wife, get a magic item commissioned, scribe some spells, or tend to the lands they were granted as part of their knighthood. Perhaps I participate in an older school of thought where the PCs are exceptional but not chosen ones. Unless they piss someone off or it makes sense for the setting "the plot" isn't going to smash in their front door because they're taking a break. Of course taking a nap might become more of an issue as the PCs reach higher levels and their actions do have significant impact, but timey wimey shenanigans become more accessible as that becomes an issue.

    Now I know some adventure paths are written this way. The ones that are written for 3.5 do account for some pretty significant downtime between installments although I think the amount decreases as things start to get bad. I'm not a huge fan of adventure paths in general because it assumes that the PCs generally oppose the same faction from levels 1-20 or similar, which requires some contrived writing to make any sense as their enemies constantly throw level appropriate foes at them instead of sending the CR 18 guy to crush the level 10s that are constantly screwing stuff up and everyone else has failed to kill.

    So sure, I concede that the power of the artificer is dependent on what kind of game you're in more than most other classes. But I also recognize that those games ignore some baseline assumptions of the system and require some connived writing to make work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    Don't even get started on the Magical Christmas Land scenario of finding Divine Magician scrolls of Wizard spells, or Geometer Death Master scrolls of 2nd level animate dead.
    The cleric spell list alone makes a class tier 1, but where do you draw the line here? There are many ways to make an arcane spell divine, including Alternate Source Spell, Southern Magician, Wyrm Wizard, and the mentioned Geometer. Even assuming conversion cheese is out there's still the cleric list, the druid list, domain spells, then all the wacky PrC lists you can cherry pick cheesy spells from at lower levels or just have more options.
    Last edited by Zanos; 2017-02-21 at 11:12 PM.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Concerning the potency of animal companions:

    I get a feeling that most tables hand-wave a lot of the rules surrounding animal companions. They're not as reliably awesome as most people likely see them in play, at least officially.

    At low levels, getting an animal companion to do anything that doesn't pertain to one of their tricks is a DC 25 Handle Animal check (higher if it's injured). That's not guaranteed, and it's not a free action, either.

    In the end, it's just another chassis for buff spells, less intelligent and with less clear-cut magic item slots. I'd rather have a full BAB class in the party to layer on those buffs.

    As for spontaneous summon nature's ally, at low levels I'd rather have a cleric's spontaneous cure spells nine times out of ten. Summoning a pony for a handful of rounds is rarely as vital as a cure spell at those fragile, fragile low levels.

    And anybody can turn themselves into a polymorphing horror show in 3.5, often with better options than the druid's wild shape alone. Sure, the druid can cast (crappy) spells while in animal form, but if the solution to your problem was turn into a hydra and wreck face... just mop up, and get back to casting once everyone is dead. I dunno?

    What does the druid cast while wild shaped? More buffs? Crowd control? Is it just so you can be a bird all day, safely out of reach?

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by Zanos View Post
    The cleric spell list alone makes a class tier 1, but where do you draw the line here? There are many ways to make an arcane spell divine, including Alternate Source Spell, Southern Magician, Wyrm Wizard, and the mentioned Geometer. Even assuming conversion cheese is out there's still the cleric list, the druid list, domain spells, then all the wacky PrC lists you can cherry pick cheesy spells from at lower levels or just have more options.
    The Cleric list is good if you get all of it. It is much less good if you only get two spells a level. The power of the Cleric is that you can prepare the best spell each day for absolutely no cost to yourself. Think ice axe is going to do what you want today? Go ice axe. Think instead you'll want anarchic storm? Prepare that instead. The ability to get that degree of versatility for free, on top of having consistently good options, is what makes Clerics so effective.

    Making an arcane spell divine is just very unlikely to fly without a permissive DM, at which point all bets are off. Look at the techniques you listed. In order they are from Dragon Magazine, Forgotten Realms, Dragon Magic, and Complete Divine. Only Complete Divine seems particularly likely to show up in most games. What's more, those things don't get you anywhere on their own. Each of them requires that a NPC with the appropriate class or feat and the appropriate spell known create a scroll and that scroll make its way to you. That's not a particularly realistic assumption in most games.

    The issue with the Archivist is that the DM has a whole bunch of points of intervention to stop your best tricks, and without them you have to spend huge amounts of money to play catch up to the Cleric. You can be very good, but in practice you are often constrained by the DM much more than a Cleric or a Wizard would be. And if you can convince your DM to let you buy scrolls from Trapsmiths with Alternative Spell Source, the Warmage's player can probably convince him to allow early entry shenanigans with Rainbow Servant at which point he pulls ahead pretty quickly.

    Quote Originally Posted by CockroachTeaParty View Post
    In the end, it's just another chassis for buff spells, less intelligent and with less clear-cut magic item slots. I'd rather have a full BAB class in the party to layer on those buffs.
    This is bad logic for two reasons.

    First, the animal companion shares most buffs with the Druid, so you're getting whatever you put on it (largely) for free.

    Second, the opportunity cost of the animal companion isn't a Fighter. It's whatever the best animal companion trading ACF is.

    As for spontaneous summon nature's ally, at low levels I'd rather have a cleric's spontaneous cure spells nine times out of ten. Summoning a pony for a handful of rounds is rarely as vital as a cure spell at those fragile, fragile low levels.
    In combat healing is generally pretty bad. summon nature's ally also goes totally insane in a world where you take Greenbound Summoning.

    And anybody can turn themselves into a polymorphing horror show in 3.5, often with better options than the druid's wild shape alone. Sure, the druid can cast (crappy) spells while in animal form, but if the solution to your problem was turn into a hydra and wreck face... just mop up, and get back to casting once everyone is dead. I dunno?
    The big benefit of Wild Shape is being free. You turn into a Bear at the beginning of the day, layer on a few buffs, and then you have a respectable fallback option.

    Using polymorph for a combat form is probably not worth it in most cases. You'd rather cast black tentacles or something, unless you're doing something fairly cheesy (and therefore vulnerable to triggering a debate on what polymorph really does, which will probably result in an unfavorable interpretation).
    Last edited by Cosi; 2017-02-21 at 11:39 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by CockroachTeaParty View Post
    Concerning the potency of animal companions:

    I get a feeling that most tables hand-wave a lot of the rules surrounding animal companions. They're not as reliably awesome as most people likely see them in play, at least officially.

    At low levels, getting an animal companion to do anything that doesn't pertain to one of their tricks is a DC 25 Handle Animal check (higher if it's injured). That's not guaranteed, and it's not a free action, either.
    I'm not assuming anything crazy here. Just that the companion attacks the things you want it to attack. Pretty sure that aligns quite well with the rules. Animal companions rarely have associated high complexity tactics. Even a fleshraker just does all its stuff automatically.

    In the end, it's just another chassis for buff spells, less intelligent and with less clear-cut magic item slots. I'd rather have a full BAB class in the party to layer on those buffs.
    Enrage animal is a pretty solid animal only buff at the really low levels we're talking about. And otherwise you're not that likely to toss a lot of buffs or items on the party beatstick. The prime area of consideration is first to fourth or fifth. The companion is arguably better than a lot of melee oriented characters in that range.
    As for spontaneous summon nature's ally, at low levels I'd rather have a cleric's spontaneous cure spells nine times out of ten. Summoning a pony for a handful of rounds is rarely as vital as a cure spell at those fragile, fragile low levels.
    First level, I'd likely prefer the cure. By third, fifth, or especially seventh, because at seventh you can turn those summons into efficient curing, I'd much prefer the summoning. Wolves are alright too, but the duration makes it not the best thing.

    And anybody can turn themselves into a polymorphing horror show in 3.5, often with better options than the druid's wild shape alone. Sure, the druid can cast (crappy) spells while in animal form, but if the solution to your problem was turn into a hydra and wreck face... just mop up, and get back to casting once everyone is dead. I dunno?

    What does the druid cast while wild shaped? More buffs? Crowd control? Is it just so you can be a bird all day, safely out of reach?
    Really gonna have to apply more justification to the notion that these spells are crappy. Cause, yes, buffs and crowd control, along with high quality debuffs and reasonable blasting, and summons. And the animal companion covers direct melee damage. You're really covering the broad spectrum of in combat impact you'd hope to have. What do you really want to do in combat that you're not doing?

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by CockroachTeaParty View Post
    What does the druid cast while wild shaped? More buffs? Crowd control? Is it just so you can be a bird all day, safely out of reach?
    Whatever the hell they want to cast. With a druid you have a lot of tools available. And yes, it's so you can be a bird all day and still do everything you could do if you weren't a bird. But from a safe range. And as a bird.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd always rather have/be a cleric. But a Wild Shaped druid with Natural Spell can get things done that a cleric would have to burn a spell or two to do.
    Last edited by PaucaTerrorem; 2017-02-21 at 11:53 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Y'all dissing the Artificer clearly haven't looked very closely at their infusion list, because the class is totally busted and can break T1 even if you never craft a single item. You realize you can spontaneously cast any spell up to 4th level off of any list and apply any metamagic to it for free, just with infusions, no crafting necessary? Bah. Roken.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by Troacctid View Post
    Y'all dissing the Artificer clearly haven't looked very closely at their infusion list, because the class is totally busted and can break T1 even if you never craft a single item. You realize you can spontaneously cast any spell up to 4th level off of any list and apply any metamagic to it for free, just with infusions, no crafting necessary? Bah. Roken.
    There are a whole lot of asterisks on that particular trick.

    It takes a minute, so you can't use it spontaneously in combat.

    It takes a UMD check to use, so it's still hard to use consistently, particularly at low levels.

    It relies on an encyclopedic knowledge of spell lists to use effectively, so it's not really solving the Artificers deep dependence on player skill.

    The Artificer is a hard mode class. If you don't have a lot of knowledge about the game, it's very hard to make it close to as effective as a Wizard or even a Sorcerer.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    it's not really solving the Artificers deep dependence on player skill.
    The tier list isn't about floors. You can pretty easily just set your spellbook on fire at level 1. Or prepare animate rope in 90% of your slots. The later of which a real person in a real game I ran actually did, because "I'm a transmuter."

    Him being a dingus doesn't make the wizard not a tier 1.
    Last edited by Zanos; 2017-02-22 at 02:11 AM.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by Zanos View Post
    The tier list isn't about floors. You can pretty easily just set your spellbook on fire at level 1. Or prepare animate rope in 90% of your slots. The later of which a real person in a real game I ran actually did, because "I'm a transmuter."
    There's a difference between not measuring floors and ignoring optimization effort altogether. The amount of work and game knowledge it takes to get the Artificer working at all is more than it takes to get a Beguiler or Dread Necromancer to Tier One.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    There's a diffuerence between not measuring floors and ignoring optimization effort altogether. The amount of work and game knowledge it takes to get the Artificer working at all is more than it takes to get a Beguiler or Dread Necromancer to Tier One.
    Nope. Pick some good spells and magic items out of core. You're done making an artificer that can "work at all."
    Last edited by Zanos; 2017-02-22 at 02:27 AM.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by Zanos View Post
    Nope. Pick some good spells and magic items out of core. You're done making an artificer that can "work at all."
    Except you can't actually cast your spells, because you have a 35% spell failure chance. Also, the ability to have items is kind of incredibly unimpressive. People can buy stuff with gold. The 50% savings you get for crafting is not on par with what the Wizard is doing.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Opportunity cost. Gold is a limited resources that buys power. Doubling that resource doesn't make it less useful. May as well argue that getting more levels as a class feature isn't good because people can just buy levels with xp. You will always have more.

    35% failure rate isn't terrible at level 1 when the wizard only has 2-4 spells anyway.
    Last edited by Zanos; 2017-02-22 at 02:37 AM.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by Zanos View Post
    Opportunity cost. Gold is a limited resources that buys power. Doubling that resource doesn't make it less useful. May as well argue that getting more levels as a class feature isn't good because people can just buy levels with xp. You will always have more.

    35% failure rate isn't terrible at level 1 when the wizard only has 2-4 spells anyway.
    More gold isn't terrible or anything, it's just clearly not equal to what the Wizard is doing, especially considering that even Warmages can take item creation feats.

    It's a 35% failure rate for every scroll until you bump up your ability scores, not just at first level. It's also assuming a pretty favorable set up (18 CHA, both synergy bonuses). You don't get the basic competency of all casters (having spells work when you cast them) until you pony up six more points of bonus, which requires either a feat, a custom item, or waiting to accumulate +12 to your CHA score. Again, that's just to get the thing Warlocks get for free where when the use their abilities, they don't fail.

    That 35% failure rate is also on top of the failure rate of whatever spells you cast, which is higher than normal anyway because scrolls have crap DC.

    At first level the Artificer is the equivalent of a Wizard who walks around in full plate and has an INT of 11. I would seriously rather have a Fighter in my party.

    EDIT: It's actually even worse than I thought at specifically first level. Your UMD check is 4 points worse than normal because you don't have your synergy bonuses yet. That means you've got a 55% failure chance. More than half the time a 1st level Artificer tries to use a scroll, it fails before the spell ever goes off.
    Last edited by Cosi; 2017-02-22 at 02:56 AM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Ok a mouthful here.

    Archivist is Tier 1. Even assuming drops as per the DMG, 30% of scrolls are divine, so he should have a reasonable chance of getting spells, and there is no reason he cannot ask cleric xyz to make him a scroll. Find a church of Boccob and just like wizards your prayerbook is insane. It might be less common than wizards and stuff like ranger, druid, and paladin spells on scrolls might be really rare, but its definitely not THAT insane. Just the full cleric list, or the best cleric spells for a bit of WBL when you are an INT SAD full caster is not in any ways a weak option. Plus the higher level dark knowledge is a free stun or daze with no save if you meet or a beat a DC 35 skill check. Daze is only hitting DC 25. Thats a pretty trivial DC to hit, even if it only hits abberations, undead (who you daze), magical beasts, outsiders, and elementals. Making that 20th level lich not take any actions for 6 turns at level 11 is kind of amazing.

    Artificer: This is weird. I have only played with artificers in games that started after level 5, so I have no idea how they function at very low levels. Their infusion list is ok as is and I do not know how much they can expand that, or other than spending action points how they can use it in less time. I'm going to hesitantly put them into t2 but very high t2. If you have downtime or there are easy tricks I do not know about (I don't play much eberon) I can easily see them being t1. I can also see them being t3/4 if lack of downtime and 1 minute infusions are an uncircumventable thing (like a FR campaign that doesn't use Action points). They also bleed money. If you infinite loop your homunoculi crafting ok but at that point you are doing NI shenanigans and anything NI pretty much hits t1 or higher and I do not consider it. Unless there is an ACF that reduces time to 1 round that they all need to take and should be a pretty much be class feature like natural spell.

    Cleric: You get DMM. You get all the spells. Plus domains. You wear plate, cast behind a shield then shame the other members of your party other than maybe your wizard pal by existing, because you not only do it all but do it better. Easy tier 1.

    Driud: Similar to a Cleric, and easily Tier 1. Animal companion is about as reliable as a fighter your entire career, and is significantly better a lot of the time even before buffs, which you have a LOT of. You get a bunch of class features, and wild shape to safely give you physical stats of insanity. Or the safety of being a little birdie dropping fire seeds with a ton of buffs up that is nigh impossible to hit. It get only better if you have any of the wild shape feats that give you alternate forms because you are an elan or whatever. Wilding clasps fixes the polymorph problem, so not only are you a giant bear, you also fly, have mind blank, concealment, true seeing, and your carry your venomfire fleshraker to becoming a flying ariel bear-dino of death. You also wear armor, becoming an assault helicopter of furry death. And it last long enough that the entire adventuring day is easily covered.

    Sha'ir: I have never seen nor played one of these, but given a bit of prep time,I can see you being t1. Your low levels are trash since your spells only last 1 hour/CL, and take time to get, but once you get to 5 or 6ish it seems really really strong. But requires planning and attending the local arcanists faire to get access to all your goodies whenever. Just reading the task description I am going to go tier 1*, with the caveat that if you have a bit of time to prep you are amazing past the first few levels. It does appear to reward a careful methodical playstyle which may not be for everyone however, but is definitely safe.

    Wizard: Jose Esposito says it best: You're the best, around! Nothings ever gonna keep you down! Best spell list, super easy to expand since all your class members get the tool to help your spellbook at level 1. You can easily invalidate everyone, like your cleric and druid buddies, in different ways. You are god. Tier 1.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by Efrate View Post
    Artificer: This is weird. I have only played with artificers in games that started after level 5, so I have no idea how they function at very low levels. Their infusion list is ok as is and I do not know how much they can expand that, or other than spending action points how they can use it in less time. I'm going to hesitantly put them into t2 but very high t2. If you have downtime or there are easy tricks I do not know about (I don't play much eberon) I can easily see them being t1. I can also see them being t3/4 if lack of downtime and 1 minute infusions are an uncircumventable thing (like a FR campaign that doesn't use Action points). They also bleed money. If you infinite loop your homunoculi crafting ok but at that point you are doing NI shenanigans and anything NI pretty much hits t1 or higher and I do not consider it. Unless there is an ACF that reduces time to 1 round that they all need to take and should be a pretty much be class feature like natural spell.
    There is a feat that reduces the casting time to 1 round, and a persistable spell that gives you a temporary action point every round. Also, Artificers are arguably even better at DMM than Clerics, since they don't need turn attempts to fuel it.

    Here, have yourself a look at this.

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