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    Default Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, Jester, and Savant

    Here we have the jacks of all trades. Capable of slotting into a wide variety of different roles, verging towards all of them, though not typically capable of outdoing a master in the area except maybe in some regions of particular competence. The bard is the iconic spell for this role, the jester quite nearly a bard variant, and the factotum a class that takes a different angle on the archetype, emphasizing skill use more than the bard's array of abilities does.


    Bard: The bard is the iconic class in this area, classically considered not especially powerful by dint of the capacity of other classes to outdo it in its various areas of competence, but a look below the surface reveals deep wells of power. This is a class with quite good casting (slower and less deep than most classes that go up to 9th's, but faster and deeper than most classes besides that), holding that position in core and getting better out of it, and a bunch of optimization potential outside of core, including very powerful mass buffing. And that's all alongside rather high level skill use and a bunch of decent class features.

    Factotum (Dungeonscape, 14): The factotum takes a very different approach to the jack of all trades archetype. Here, a lot more emphasis is placed on skills, as one of the only classes with all skills on its list, alongside a more long term take on its casting mechanic (with very few spells/day but in prepared style), and a massive pile of abilities that key off of intelligence focus.

    Jester (DC, 36): This class is like the bard's shadow, first because it's oriented towards debuffing rather than the bard's mass buff shtick, and second cause it is not the full bard. It's a class with a lot of those aforementioned elements held in common, but it has some disadvantages in core, and fails to reap any real rewards from an out of core environment. However, a weaker bard can still be quite powerful, and the jester still boasts reasonable progression casting off of a pretty good list.

    Savant (DC, 45): Akin to the factotum, the savant has all class skills, some roguish abilities, and some spellcasting, arcane and divine alike for really broad coverage. Unfortunately, the casting here is somewhat anemic, and the class features less useful, so like the jester compared to the bard, this is, in a sense, the factotum but weaker. Still, the class encapsulates the goal of broadly covering the game's roles, so it fits into this power traded for versatility oriented niche.


    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

    Bard: Tier three

    Factotum: Tier three

    Jester: Tier three

    Savant: Tier four

    And here's a link to the spreadsheet.
    Last edited by eggynack; 2018-06-10 at 09:25 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Bard and Factotum are pretty easy 3s, with great skills and spellcasting off of good lists.

    Jester is basically a worse version of Bard that's still good enough for T3.

    Since it may be of interest, here is my previously posted comparison of the Jester and the Core Bard:

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    Skills
    Lose Gain
    Appraise Disable Device
    Concentration (!) Intimidate
    Craft Open Lock
    Decipher Script Search
    Diplomacy
    Knowledges (all except local and nobility)
    Listen
    Profession
    Spellcraft
    Swim

    0-level spells
    Lose Gain Retain
    Ghost Sound Create Water Dancing Lights
    Know Direction Daze
    Lullaby Detect Magic
    Message Flare
    Read Magic Light
    Resistance Mage Hand
    Summon Instrument Mending
    Open/Close
    Prestidigitation

    1st level spells
    Lose Gain Retain
    Alarm Bane Animate Rope
    Comprehend Languages Color Spray Cause Fear
    Confusion, Lesser Command Charm Person
    Cure Light Wounds Doom Disguise Self
    Detect Secret Doors Entropic Shield Expeditious Retreat
    Erase Jump Feather Fall
    Identify Obscuring Mist Grease
    Magic Mouth Reduce Person Hideous Laughter
    Obscure Object Sanctuary Hypnotism
    Remove Fear Shocking Grasp Magic Aura
    Summon Monster I Silent Image
    Undetectable Alignment Sleep
    Unseen Servant
    Ventriloquism

    2nd level spells
    Lose Gain Retain
    Animal Messenger Darkvision Alter Self
    Animal Trance Find Traps Blur
    Blindness/Deafness Fog Cloud Daze Monster
    Calm Emotions Levitate Eagle's Splendor
    Cat's Grace Rope Trick Enthrall
    Cure Moderate Wounds Spider Climb Fox's Cunning
    Darkness Touch of Idiocy Glitterdust
    Delay Poison Undetectable Alignment Hypnotic Pattern
    Detect Thoughts Invisibility
    Heroism Minor Image
    Locate Object Mirror Image
    Rage Misdirection
    Shatter Pyrotechnics
    Silence Scare
    Suggestion Sound Burst
    Summon Monster II
    Summon Swarm
    Tongues
    Whispering Wind

    3rd level spells
    Lose Gain Retain
    Blink Bestow Curse Confusion
    Charm Monster Rage Crushing Despair
    Clairaudience/Clairvoyance Shrink Item Displacement
    Cure Serious Wounds Stinking Cloud Gaseous Form
    Daylight Suggestion Haste
    Deep Slumber Tongues Invisibility Sphere
    Dispel Magic Slow
    Geas, Lesser
    Glibness
    Good Hope
    Illusory Script
    Major Image
    Phantom Steed
    Remove Curse
    Scrying
    Sculpt Sound
    Secret Page
    Sepia Snake Sigil
    Speak with Animals
    Summon Monster III
    Tiny Hut

    4th level spells
    Lose Gain Retain
    Break Enchantment Bestow Curse (again) Dimension Door
    Cure Critical Wounds Charm Monster Freedom of Movement
    Detect Scrying Fear Invisibility, Greater
    Dominate Person Minor Creation Rainbow Pattern
    Hallucinatory Terrain Polymorph Shout
    Hold Monster Reduce Person, Mass
    Legend Lore
    Locate Creature
    Modify Memory
    Neutralize Poison
    Repel Vermin
    Secure Shelter
    Shadow Conjuration
    Speak with Plants
    Summon Monster IV
    Zone of Silence

    5th level spells
    Lose Gain Retain
    Cure Light Wounds, Mass Break Enchantment Mind Fog
    Dispel Magic, Greater Command, Greater Persistent Image
    Dream Feeblemind Seeming
    False Vision Hold Monster
    Heroism, Greater
    Mirage Arcana
    Mislead
    Nightmare
    Shadow Evocation
    Shadow Walk
    Song of Discord
    Suggestion, Mass
    Summon Monster V

    6th level spells
    Lose Gain Retain
    Analyze Dweomer Ethereal Jaunt Animate Objects
    Cat's Grace, Mass Insanity Eagle's Splendor, Mass
    Charm Monster, Mass Mislead Irresistible Dance
    Cure Moderate Wounds, Mass
    Eyebite
    Find the Path
    Fox's Cunning, Mass
    Geas/Quest
    Heroes' Feast
    Permanent Image
    Programmed Image
    Project Image
    Scrying, Greater
    Shout, Greater
    Summon Monster VI
    Sympathetic Vibration
    Veil

    You also lose the ability to cast in armor, and you replace bardic music with some jester performances that are pretty similar power-wise.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Well I've put the Rogue at the bottom of T3 and I think both Bard and Factotum are firmly in this tier, too - spells, skills, skill points, some nice class features and a few decent ACFs for the Bard.

    So Bard T3, Factotum T3.

    Bard might very well be capable of jumping up a tier with some additions, but not on his own, without PrCs.

    No experience with Jester, at all, so skipping this one.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    I'll put myself down for 3's on all of them. The bard and jester have enough spellcasting ability, supported by some other stuff, to make it there. Honestly, the only one I'm expecting some serious discussion on is factotum. That one has always been a bit controversial, going back to JaronK's seemingly biased support for the class (talking about web enhancement feats in a system that was generally assuming core plus the class' source, and that seemed to heavily discount feats and such), but I think that it's a class with enough stuff to get there, between a lot of solid abilities, including useful casting that's weirdly both fast (relative to just about anything not a full caster), broad in method (cause it's prepared), and heavily limited (because you get so little each day). I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of support four four popped up though, going less from my own opinion and more from what people tend to think about the class.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    I'm fairly certain Factotum belongs in Tier 4. I still have no feeling for Tier 3, but Bard probably is like, the very last person who belongs there (like the weakest Tier 3 who is still Tier 3) or maybe Jester if it's very close (too lazy to read up on it now) but if Jester can't provide a bunch of arbitrary bonuses of potentially RNG breaking amounts to his allies, then he probably belongs in Tier 4 with the Factotum.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by Beheld View Post
    I'm fairly certain Factotum belongs in Tier 4. I still have no feeling for Tier 3, but Bard probably is like, the very last person who belongs there (like the weakest Tier 3 who is still Tier 3) or maybe Jester if it's very close (too lazy to read up on it now) but if Jester can't provide a bunch of arbitrary bonuses of potentially RNG breaking amounts to his allies, then he probably belongs in Tier 4 with the Factotum.
    I think the exact opposite about bard. That spellcasting means a lot. To me, they're just about the strongest tier three that's still in tier three. Jester is weaker, but still has a lot of good casting. I mean, geez, look at what those lists are doing in the first three spell levels. Both classes have access to some of the best spells at each of these levels: silent image, charm person, sleep, alter self, glitterdust, invisibility, mirror image, haste, and slow. And that's just the joint access ones. Third level spells especially benefit a lot from talking about what each class has individually, glibness and dispel magic in the case of the bard, stinking cloud and shrink item in the case of the jester. Separately, not exactly sure how to put you down on the basis of this post, if at all. My feeling is four for factotum, three for bard, and currently kinda nothing for the jester.
    Last edited by eggynack; 2017-03-10 at 04:55 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    I don't get the hype for Shrink Item. I don't think it's that good a spell.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by Troacctid View Post
    I don't get the hype for Shrink Item. I don't think it's that good a spell.
    Neither do I, honestly, especially on a spontaneous class, but ever since it was asserted back in the community tiering thread that a lack of shrink item was the primary thing keeping beguilers out of tier two, I think by Karl Aegis, I've been throwing it on my lists of accessible good spells where applicable. It certainly has some uses. Boulders and cones and such.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    I think the exact opposite about bard. That spellcasting means a lot. To me, they're just about the strongest tier three that's still in tier three. Jester is weaker, but still has a lot of good casting. I mean, geez, look at what those lists are doing in the first three spell levels. Both classes have access to some of the best spells at each of these levels: silent image, charm person, sleep, alter self, glitterdust, invisibility, mirror image, haste, and slow. And that's just the joint access ones. Third level spells especially benefit a lot from talking about what each class has individually, glibness and dispel magic in the case of the bard, stinking cloud and shrink item in the case of the jester. Separately, not exactly sure how to put you down on the basis of this post, if at all. My feeling is four for factotum, three for bard, and currently kinda nothing for the jester.
    Well "strongest still in Tier 3" is really weird for me to hear, because last I checked, Beguilers/Dread Necros/Warmages were still Tier 3, although, maybe the votes in your threads came out differently.

    But for me, I look at the Bard (I don't know the Jester enough to have opinion) and I see that they are behind on everything, and limited. Bard can provide, with some optimization, some big numbers, and that's nice, but if you look at his actual casting:

    At level 4 he gets access to (if he has a bonus spell, which he probably will, but still, only if he has one) one use of Glitterdust or Mirror Image. Glitterdust is good enough that it wouldn't be out of place at third level, so this is certainly impressive compared to **** classes, but it's still one Glitterdust for four encounters in a day. Fights may only last 2-3 meaningful rounds (although, I have argued in the past, that people greatly underestimate what actual encounters "look" like when you follow all the guidelines) but that's still at least 7/8ths of the day that he's not casting Glitterdust at level 4, and instead casting.... well he's got a 3 first level spells! So I like that he can provide bonuses, ideally while doing things.

    But it only gets worse from there, because there aren't really any 3rd level spells that could be 4th level spells, so when a Bard is getting his first and only 3rd level spell at level 7, and he can once per day cast Haste or Stinking Cloud, or Dispel Magic, I'm just not impressed with that one round out of 8-10 in the day when he manages to emulate a level 5 Wizard, while the Wizard has at least 1 4th level spell per encounter, and falls back on actions that are as good or better than the spellcasting that is not just the Best the Bard can do, but literally a once a day thing for the Bard.

    The best example I've ever seen of showing how being a few levels down on spells is so important, is someone did an analysis of a Factotum pulling off a "super combo" of EBT and Solid Fog in the same round, and even though it literally can't be done at level 10 (the person who suggested it forgot the only one highest level spell thing) an analysis of every CR 10 monster in the SRD showed that something like 90% of them basically didn't even care, and yet, at level 7 both of those spells are gangbusters.

    While that was the Factotum, the Bard suffers from a similar problem in casting, being able to do something that was really cool 2-3 levels ago once a day just isn't that impressive at whatever level you are at, because 1) It' s not that cool anymore, 2) You can only do it once, and then you need to contribute to 8-10 more actions that day before you earn your keep.

    I think if the Bard earns his keep, it's with Inspire Courage optimization, not with really lackluster spellcasting that falls behind way too quick to be worth talking about as a major source of character power.

    This is part of my "The Rogue is Tier 3, and maybe the Barbarian, but the Bard is Tier 4" thing (I'm not saying those are actually their tiers, this is conceptually about the idea of what those classes do) because doing one thing well enough that the rest of the party always wants you around is way better than doing lots of little things at a level where you are actually behind the curve in multiple ways, and everyone sort of just says "and then the Factotum takes his action, and no one cares what it is, and then we get back to the real characters turn and something important happens" and charging for "monsters HP +20 damage" can be a real thing, but casting spells that were cool 3 levels ago isn't without lots of dumb cheese like "Shrink Item is how I kill everything in the game" or "and then I alter self into a Dwarven Ancestor" stuff that, at least in my groups, are less favored than simple "I do a thing that is level appropriate at this level without cheese, and I will do so again in the future."
    Last edited by Beheld; 2017-03-10 at 05:31 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    I think the exact opposite about bard. That spellcasting means a lot. To me, they're just about the strongest tier three that's still in tier three. Jester is weaker, but still has a lot of good casting. I mean, geez, look at what those lists are doing in the first three spell levels. Both classes have access to some of the best spells at each of these levels: silent image, charm person, sleep, alter self, glitterdust, invisibility, mirror image, haste, and slow. And that's just the joint access ones. Third level spells especially benefit a lot from talking about what each class has individually, glibness and dispel magic in the case of the bard, stinking cloud and shrink item in the case of the jester. Separately, not exactly sure how to put you down on the basis of this post, if at all. My feeling is four for factotum, three for bard, and currently kinda nothing for the jester.
    I kind of tend to agree with this. I remember looking at Jester for the other thread; it suffers from not having splat support, but as Troccaid's list shows, it's still an excellent caster with great skills. Inspiring Quip is also surprisingly good-- +2 attack for the rest of the encounter as an immediate action is seriously good at low levels and never really goes out of style.

    I'm well on record as considering the Factotum overrated. You start to pull ahead somewhere around 8th-10th level, I guess, when you start to have meaningful numbers of decent-level spells, but the run-up is painfully slow. And without that weird, not-really-useful-until-late-in-the-game casting, they're great skillmonkies but goddawful at fighting. They're painfully MAD and feat-starved no matter what you do, because the recommended strategies of archery or Iajutsu Focus* will easily eat up a ton of feats without much to show for it, and you apparently need to take a hundred Font of Inspirations to do the Factotum thing reliably. You can drop an alpha strike or two, perhaps, but there's not much sustainability. You don't have the spells/day to buff yourself into a gish, or to really do much BFC/blasty/debuffy stuff. You just... don't have a good enough offensive game, methinks.

    *And seriously, can we stop defining classes by obscure 3.0 skills? Sheesh.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by Beheld View Post
    Well "strongest still in Tier 3" is really weird for me to hear, because last I checked, Beguilers/Dread Necros/Warmages were still Tier 3, although, maybe the votes in your threads came out differently.
    They did. Beguilers and dread necromancers are rated tier two, and far more critically, I think they should be rated tier two. They're pretty much even with sorcerers. Warmage is tier three, but that's still an improvement over where they were before, in tier four. I don't think they're necessarily better than bards either. Without feat optimization and such, the warmage is generally constrained to fewer areas than the bard is. They have more damage output, but less capacity to engage with things besides the battlefield. It makes a lot of sense to me that they'd wind up in the same tier, with the bard trading away some combat performance for some non-combat performance, and optimization making each class more capable in the other's prime area of competency.

    At level 4 he gets access to (if he has a bonus spell, which he probably will, but still, only if he has one) one use of Glitterdust or Mirror Image. Glitterdust is good enough that it wouldn't be out of place at third level, so this is certainly impressive compared to **** classes, but it's still one Glitterdust for four encounters in a day. Fights may only last 2-3 meaningful rounds (although, I have argued in the past, that people greatly underestimate what actual encounters "look" like when you follow all the guidelines) but that's still at least 7/8ths of the day that he's not casting Glitterdust at level 4, and instead casting.... well he's got a 3 first level spells! So I like that he can provide bonuses, ideally while doing things.
    One use of glitterdust or alter self (I think significantly better than mirror image, and it allows some non-combat utility in the form of upped mobility), along with three or four uses of charm person, silent image, grease, or, let's assume they picked a spell that doesn't scale well under the assumption that there's some early level emphasis going on, sleep. A lot of these spells continue to impact the battlefield just fine at the late game. It's not like silent image suddenly loses its versatility, or like charm person stops all its enemy turning, once you get second level spells. It's a set of spells that allows some solid combat impact, especially alongside bardic music, and some solid non-combat impact, especially alongside skills.

    But it only gets worse from there, because there aren't really any 3rd level spells that could be 4th level spells, so when a Bard is getting his first and only 3rd level spell at level 7, and he can once per day cast Haste or Stinking Cloud, or Dispel Magic, I'm just not impressed with that one round out of 8-10 in the day when he manages to emulate a level 5 Wizard, while the Wizard has at least 1 4th level spell per encounter, and falls back on actions that are as good or better than the spellcasting that is not just the Best the Bard can do, but literally a once a day thing for the Bard.
    Glibness. First of all. And no, this isn't a wizard. That's why wizards are tier one. But this is as compared to barbarians here, and if we're not using inspire courage optimization, rather bog standard barbarians at that. And I'd very likely prefer the stinking cloud or haste. Or frigging glibness, cause that spell could easily be fourth or even fifth level.
    While that was the Factotum, the Bard suffers from a similar problem in casting, being able to do something that was really cool 2-3 levels ago once a day just isn't that impressive at whatever level you are at, because 1) It' s not that cool anymore, 2) You can only do it once, and then you need to contribute to 8-10 more actions that day before you earn your keep.
    With a lot of these spells, I'm really not seeing where a loss in utility would happen. They just kinda start good and stay good. Sure, some of them might dry up, invisibility facing vision modes or sleep having obvious diminishing returns, but spells frequently hold power even late in the game, against high level foes.

    I think if the Bard earns his keep, it's with Inspire Courage optimization, not with really lackluster spellcasting that falls behind way too quick to be worth talking about as a major source of character power.
    Falls behind what? We're obviously falling behind the wizard. No one would plausibly argue otherwise. But wizard is one of the most powerful classes in the game. Just about everything falls behind it. Sorcerer? Still a tier above the bard, by my reading. Is it truly falling behind a barbarian? Like, you have this party with a barbarian, a rogue, and a fighter, and the bard, with its fancy spellcasting that's all the casting the party would get absent UMD, is falling behind that? Despite its ability to warp battlefields and social situations alike? I'm doubtful.
    Last edited by eggynack; 2017-03-10 at 05:49 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Bard is likely on the edge of three and four. It's bad at most stuff, but it can trade things around so that it's good at one thing (with, for example, Song of the White Raven or Sublime Chord). Your spells are okay, but your uses are very limited. I guess it basically comes down to how much worse than Tier Two you can be and still be Tier Three.

    Jester is like the Bard, except without the splat support that lets you make an effective Bard at high levels. Definitely worse, how much so depends on what exactly you're giving the Bard credit for (e.g. feats or PrCs).

    Factotum just doesn't do anything good. You get extra actions, but your actions are very bad. You get spellcasting, but it's very slow. The big ticket items people talk about (Font of Inspiration, Iajutsu Focus) are, respective, a Web Enhancement feat from a setting specific web enhancement, and a setting specific skill from a 3.0 setting. I don't think those things factor in very much to tiering. Probably Tier Four.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    Glibness. First of all. And no, this isn't a wizard. That's why wizards are tier one. But this is as compared to barbarians here, and if we're not using inspire courage optimization, rather bog standard barbarians at that. And I'd very likely prefer the stinking cloud or haste. Or frigging glibness, cause that spell could easily be fourth or even fifth level.
    In fact, in 5e, it is 8th level. https://www.dnd-spells.com/spell/glibness

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    Bard is likely on the edge of three and four. It's bad at most stuff, but it can trade things around so that it's good at one thing (with, for example, Song of the White Raven or Sublime Chord). Your spells are okay, but your uses are very limited. I guess it basically comes down to how much worse than Tier Two you can be and still be Tier Three.
    I gotta disagree. I think it's very close to the top of T3. The spellcasting is legit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    Factotum just doesn't do anything good. You get extra actions, but your actions are very bad. You get spellcasting, but it's very slow. The big ticket items people talk about (Font of Inspiration, Iajutsu Focus) are, respective, a Web Enhancement feat from a setting specific web enhancement, and a setting specific skill from a 3.0 setting. I don't think those things factor in very much to tiering. Probably Tier Four.
    Those are the big tickets? Really? I'm not convinced either of them is even good. In my opinion, the real big tickets are Cunning Insight, Cunning Knowledge, Brains over Brawn, and Arcane Dilettante, as well as the skills, with an honorable mention to Cunning Surge. Combined, they bring the class pretty easily into T3 IMO.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    One use of glitterdust or alter self (I think significantly better than mirror image, and it allows some non-combat utility in the form of upped mobility), along with three or four uses of charm person, silent image, grease, or, let's assume they picked a spell that doesn't scale well under the assumption that there's some early level emphasis going on, sleep. A lot of these spells continue to impact the battlefield just fine at the late game. It's not like silent image suddenly loses its versatility, or like charm person stops all its enemy turning, once you get second level spells. It's a set of spells that allows some solid combat impact, especially alongside bardic music, and some solid non-combat impact, especially alongside skills.
    1) Specifically talking about how much of a non factor the bards casting is.

    2) 1 casting of Glitterdust (also Alter Self is mostly ****, especially as your highest spell of the day that you have one of) followed by, best case scenario, casting a sometimes cantrip 3 times a day. Yeah, you can get use out of your ability to cast a Gnome Wizard's cantrip, but you are 4th or 5th or 6th level! If all you bring is "and then I'm a level 1 character" the casting is just not breaking the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    Glibness. First of all. And no, this isn't a wizard. That's why wizards are tier one. But this is as compared to barbarians here, and if we're not using inspire courage optimization, rather bog standard barbarians at that. And I'd very likely prefer the stinking cloud or haste. Or frigging glibness, cause that spell could easily be fourth or even fifth level.
    Glibness is ass flavored ass that people only think is great because they forgot what bluff actually does. And that's the thing, at 7th level, when you either get a person who casts haste once a day, or a person does level appropriate damage, that second guy is a better adventuring companion.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by Beheld View Post
    1) Specifically talking about how much of a non factor the bards casting is.
    And I'm specifically talking about how you're mistaken.

    2) 1 casting of Glitterdust (also Alter Self is mostly ****, especially as your highest spell of the day that you have one of) followed by, best case scenario, casting a sometimes cantrip 3 times a day. Yeah, you can get use out of your ability to cast a Gnome Wizard's cantrip, but you are 4th or 5th or 6th level! If all you bring is "and then I'm a level 1 character" the casting is just not breaking the game.
    No, we're not breaking the game. We're just doing reasonable level appropriate stuff. You know that thing where wizards get all these incredibly powerful spells all the time at this really speedy rate? That's way more than level appropriate. And I'm not sure where you're getting this idea that the thing we're casting after second level spells are cantrips. They just aren't that. Though bard cantrips are pretty good too. And alter self allows broad access to movement modes, including flight, and useful combat oriented stuff, for long parts of the day.

    Glibness is ass flavored ass that people only think is great because they forgot what bluff actually does. And that's the thing, at 7th level, when you either get a person who casts haste once a day, or a person does level appropriate damage, that second guy is a better adventuring companion
    You are really going to have to justify why the skill that pretty explicitly does this thing people claim it does doesn't do this thing it explicitly says it does. And that's haste once a day, along with the ability to fly around, blind foes and reveal invisible ones, toss around illusions, and manipulate social encounters at a high level when you're not adventuring.
    Last edited by eggynack; 2017-03-10 at 06:30 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by Troacctid View Post
    In fact, in 5e, it is 8th level. https://www.dnd-spells.com/spell/glibness
    I wouldn't necessarily use 5e as an example of anything. It's not really ... good (though that's a topic for another thread). But one of the core principles is "bounded accuracy" (or "you don't get to bone the RNG"), so obviously a bonus larger than the RNG is going to be higher level.

    Those are the big tickets? Really? I'm not convinced either of them is even good. In my opinion, the real big tickets are Cunning Insight, Cunning Knowledge, Brains over Brawn, and Arcane Dilettante, as well as the skills, with an honorable mention to Cunning Surge. Combined, they bring the class pretty easily into T3 IMO.
    Offensively, Cunning Insight isn't enough on its own to matter. Defensively, it's okay, but you're not really getting anywhere with good defense but no offense.

    Cunning Knowledge is limited to 1/day, and most skills don't do anything you really care about past maybe 7th level (I am less than amazed by your power to have a big Jump bonus when people can just fly).

    Brains Over Brawn boosts your initiative, but you don't have actions people care about. What are you going to do going first? Make a standard melee attack?

    Arcane Dilettante doesn't give enough spells, or at high enough level to matter. It's okay for utility, but then your left with a character that does nothing in combat, and that's just not workable.

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    Doesn't savant have all skills as class skills?
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by LordOfCain View Post
    Doesn't savant have all skills as class skills?
    Apparently. Knew I should have put a bit more wiggle room there.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    One of Bard's major selling points is that its buffs let it assist other party members at things that are outside the Bard's core competence. In contrast, Jesters' debuffs can't contribute in any situation without a well defined adversary.
    The gnomes once had many mines, but now they have gnome ore.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    No, we're not breaking the game. We're just doing reasonable level appropriate stuff. You know that thing where wizards get all these incredibly powerful spells all the time at this really speedy rate? That's way more than level appropriate.
    No it really isn't. Casting Stinking Cloud and Haste at level 5 and EBT and Fear at level 7 isn't either.

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    And I'm not sure where you're getting this idea that the thing we're casting after second level spells are cantrips. They just aren't that. Though bard cantrips are pretty good too. And alter self allows broad access to movement modes, including flight, and useful combat oriented stuff, for long parts of the day.
    No, Glitterdust is a great spell, and you have it once per day, and then you are casting Silent Image as literally the best other combat spell you have. That's literally a cantrip for Gnome Wizards. 1st level characters cast that. If you are level 4, and 1 round a day you are not a 1st level character, and every other round of the day you are a 1st level character, then you are not pulling your weight.

    Again, "Broad access to movement modes for long parts of the day" is terrible when you are a 4th level character who can do it once per day as literally the best thing you can do. At least Glitterdust significantly contributes to one combat, Alter Self significantly contributes to 1/4th of the party getting to a location.

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    You are really going to have to justify why the skill that pretty explicitly does this thing people claim it does doesn't do this thing it explicitly says it does.
    Describe you using Bluff to accomplish anything that I would care about for a 7th level character, and I'll describe why that thing isn't that meaningful.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by Beheld View Post
    No it really isn't. Casting Stinking Cloud and Haste at level 5 and EBT and Fear at level 7 isn't either.
    Fear, no. Stinking cloud, haste, and black tentacles, quite likely yes. These low level wizard spells are core to their status as tier one, just as, with slower progression, they're core to the bard's status as tier three.

    No, Glitterdust is a great spell, and you have it once per day, and then you are casting Silent Image as literally the best other combat spell you have. That's literally a cantrip for Gnome Wizards. 1st level characters cast that. If you are level 4, and 1 round a day you are not a 1st level character, and every other round of the day you are a 1st level character, then you are not pulling your weight.

    Again, "Broad access to movement modes for long parts of the day" is terrible when you are a 4th level character who can do it once per day as literally the best thing you can do. At least Glitterdust significantly contributes to one combat, Alter Self significantly contributes to 1/4th of the party getting to a location.
    I really don't think we should identify a spell as a cantrip just because it shows up like that on a really specific character build. Next you're gonna say that haste is a first level spell cause it lands there on the trapsmith list. And silent image is a great contribution, but it's far from your only contribution from first level spells, or your actual cantrips. I also think you're vastly underestimating alter self. It does a whole pile of different things. It's one of the best second level spells in the game. And keep in mind that bard class features provide a wide array of non-spell ways to interact with combat and non-combat alike. Spells are just one of your better ways to interact with your environment, not your only way.

    Describe you using Bluff to accomplish anything that I would care about for a 7th level character, and I'll describe why that thing isn't that meaningful.
    "We're not actually your enemies. I'm your boss in disguise, and these other folks are my minions, like you are." "I am, in fact, the rightful king of this region, because of some kinda true bloodline or whatever." Stuff like that.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    Fear, no. Stinking cloud, haste, and black tentacles, quite likely yes. These low level wizard spells are core to their status as tier one, just as, with slower progression, they're core to the bard's status as tier three.
    I think you and Beheld are, to some degree, talking past each other. He's saying that having Wizard casting is a level appropriate ability. You're saying it's a Tier One ability. Nothing particularly stops those both from being true if you happen to believe that the game is (or should be) balanced around characters with capabilities close to the Wizard's.

    I also think you're vastly underestimating alter self. It does a whole pile of different things. It's one of the best second level spells in the game.
    I'm a little down on the whole polymorph line, because of how tangled the rules around them are. There are definitely cool things to be done with alter self, but the ones that bear mentioning as a primary offensive tool at 4th level aren't things you are likely to be able to use at most tables.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    I think you and Beheld are, to some degree, talking past each other. He's saying that having Wizard casting is a level appropriate ability. You're saying it's a Tier One ability. Nothing particularly stops those both from being true if you happen to believe that the game is (or should be) balanced around characters with capabilities close to the Wizard's.
    I dunno if it matters what the game should be or is balanced around, precisely. These abilities are absolutely those of a tier one character. If tier one is to be the norm, then we still have tier threes that are worse than the norm by this much, and tier fours are worse by that much. What I'm saying, and I think you'd agree, is that being significantly worse than a wizard or sorcerer at magic can essentially only imply that you are in a tier below those classes. There's not much of a point in bringing those classes into an argument that bards belong in tier four.

    I'm a little down on the whole polymorph line, because of how tangled the rules around them are. There are definitely cool things to be done with alter self, but the ones that bear mentioning as a primary offensive tool at 4th level aren't things you are likely to be able to use at most tables.
    Perhaps. I was thinking that one high AC form or something, which I think is on the level (I think troglodyte). This isn't precisely the primary offensive tool. It's thinking of it more as this defensive mobility thing with a decent though not huge amount of offensive edge, and stuff like glitterdust, silent image, and grease is how you'd generally interact when just trying to toss out a combat effect, spell-wise.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    I think you should add the Savant to this list, its basically another take on the Factotum

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by Lans View Post
    I think you should add the Savant to this list, its basically another take on the Factotum
    Maybe, yeah. Is that the only other class that has all the skills? If it is, that'd make a good case for heavy thematic connection to existing classes. And it'd make writing the little entry easier. Also, about where do you think it places power-wise compared to what's already in this thread? I don't have a great feel for the class yet.
    Last edited by eggynack; 2017-03-11 at 02:26 AM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    Maybe, yeah. Is that the only other class that has all the skills? If it is, that'd make a good case for heavy thematic connection to existing classes. And it'd make writing the little entry easier. Also, about where do you think it places power-wise compared to what's already in this thread? I don't have a great feel for the class yet.
    The only other one would be the expert in a kind of sort of way.

    I think its alot like a weaker factotum.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by Lans View Post
    The only other one would be the expert in a kind of sort of way.

    I think its alot like a weaker factotum.
    Yeah, I think I'ma add it then. It's pretty early in the thread. Also, not really sure what other category I'd put it in.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, and Jester

    Most of my thoughts have already been expressed well by eggynack and Troacctid, so I'll say that perhaps a better perspective for judging these classes would be to entirely forget tier ones for the moment and think in comparison to the recently judged "roguelikes".

    In comparison to the roguelikes:

    Bard is in the same echelon of "skillz", but some might say is worse at combat out-of-the-box. However, this is at worst for the bard a case of "low floor, high ceiling", as between the amazing class feature of SPELLCASTING, a bard can be built to be a highly competitive foe at this level. (That's right, bard spellcasting is amazing. There are no 9th level spells in this discussion, remember? That's not the benchmark for not sucking. 6th level vs [N/A] level is - say it with me now - amazing.) The bard also has this other class feature that may have been the subject of a discussion or two online called inspire courage. Between varieties of bardic music and spellcasting options, can a bard specifically built for combat compete at the same level as a roguelike? Yes.

    Between spellcasting and bardic music, would that same bard still be able to do some other things better than those roguelikes (including, but not being limited to, using much of that same optimization to support other party members)? Probably. Between the natural versatility of those class features and fantastic splat support, would a differently built bard be able to compete at a similar level of effectiveness in other arenas? Absolutely.

    Bards one of the most easily tier-3'd classes in the game. In strictly core, a beginner's bard can be "good" at solving most problems or even specialize a bit, and their options for limited power and/or versatility only get better from there. I wouldn't put one next to a beguiler or sorcerer, but you can't seriously put one next to a rogue either. I have no practical experience with Jesters, but reason dictates comparison to a core bard - again, tier 3.

    I do admit that factotum is messier here, and perhaps harder to keep consistent between judgement in theory and observations in play. Again, let's compare to the roguelikes. In skill use, factotum is an easy champ. An inevitably higher intelligence score also means he'll probably have more skill points than even the rogue, and he uses them better than anyone. Just from the number of points, cunning knowledge and brains over brawn, he is either better than the roguelikes at their specialized skills or equally good while also better in all others. And again, he has all the skills. And shaming a factotum for relying on making use of iaijutsu focus or lucid dreaming is like viewing a rogue the same for using a wand of gravestrike - the class is intended to be able to make use of those abilities.

    In offensive combat, the factotum's class features are up against sneak attack, skirmish, and sudden strike. He has options to help him hit and make it count with cunning insight, cunning strike, and IF (if he makes any investment). He also can ignore damage reduction with cunning breach. He also can make better use of combat maneuvers than the roguelikes with brains over brawn. He's no chain-tripping fighter, but that's not the point here - with no specialized investment, he can still do it better than the roguelikes. His damage should not be compared to a raging, pouncing barbarian, but to the lower-accuracy, lower-output, and the I-need-a-specific-set-of-circumstances-to-roll-my-extra-d6's of the roguelikes. He can match that. And he can do it while exhibiting superior skill use, superior knowledge, superior magical abilities, superior versatility, and a vastly superior capstone.

    Playing a non-IF melee factotum in a very murderhobo group left me out-damaged by the ranger, out-magic'd by the sorcerer, and outsmarted by the DM who stuck to skill-light challenges, but playing one in a four-character party with a rogue, a scout, and a ninja, I felt like a god-wizard among sorcerers; I could be comparable to any of them, but my real strength came from being able to do some of what any of them could do while also filling in the gaps and being able to do something different in the next encounter. It may sit below a bard, and it may be hard to feel effective if built a certain way or played with certain expectations, but a factotum is at least in the same rank of combat power as the roguelikes while being more effective elsewhere and with greater flexibility. That spells tier three.

    I have no practical experience with savant, but the "first draft factotum" looks tier-three to me, albeit a lower tier three than bard. It's class features, while not individually fantastic, all have optimization potential for those who want to invest in specialization (and you'll have some extra feats anyway), and it's already set up to be a jack-of-all-trades.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, Jester, and Savant

    Just added the savant, which should be clear going by the new thread title. The description is alright, I think. Big struggle with all of these has been not infusing it with really subjective elements while still having stuff to say. Prefer not to lead people to specific tiering outcomes at the start of a thread too much. Now to edit the change into all the other threads.

    Edit: Thought it'd be worth note that 9th's aren't completely out of this equation. Warmage already falls into tier three, and healer is liable to go the same way. Not great 9th's, certainly, but present 9th's, and both casting mechanics have some allowance for spell addition, meaning a good number of the spells you might not expect to compete against are ones you likely do have to compete against at higher optimization levels. Still, it's not like high optimization levels are unkind to the bard. The general position from people opposed to high power bards is that they're weak absent optimization, if strong when it's present.
    Last edited by eggynack; 2017-03-11 at 03:16 AM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Bard, Factotum, Jester, and Savant

    Bard: Tier 3, and holds a strong position in it, too. Solid if somewhat limited spell list, good skills, and oh my...the inspire courage optimization. Want everyone in the party to do +5d6 fire damage (or other type, if you get a Draconic Heritage feat) every attack by level 6? With enough splat resources, you can totally do that!

    Factotum: I don't buy the hype here at all. Sinking multiple feats into Font of Inspiration is crippling to anything else you want to do...if it's even allowed. The SLAs per day are too few to matter much (special note for how amazing a Factotum teamed up w/ a Spellthief is, though), and the class itself offers nothing worthwhile to do offensively with your inspiration...1d6 SA per point is awful, and Manyshot (from Cunning Surge bonus standard actions) makes Monk look accurate. it's a nice class to mix w/ something else with meaningful combat abilities, but that's all it is to me. Eight levels is a lot to invest for the surge, usually I'll do a 3 level dip for Brains over Brawn to supplement a trip build or the like, and grab Able Learner to carry over the 1:1 cost on all skills to my real class. As frosting (supplementing your actual class) it's very good. As cake...in its own merits or with minimal dips to other classes, it's tier 4 to me. Not even particularly high in tier 4, it's middle of the pack like Rogue (where I put Rogue, at least). It can handle a lot of roles and perform them anywhere from slightly below to slightly above average, except combat (the most important role) where its clearly sub-par. I also think the Factotum / Chameleon build is grossly overrated, but that's a bit of a side tangent and one I don't feel like getting into.

    EDIT: As for Iaijutsu Focus, people need to stop acting like it's a Factotum class feature. If it's allowed, any melee character can and probably will get it. Likely through a Factotum dip and Able Learner, but only because that's the most value-gained option. Compared to dipping Expert instead, or taking the UA feat to add one skill to your "class skills" list for all classes. Saying that's a credit to the Factotum is like saying Fighter's a better class than ranger because it's a better dip.

    Jester: Not much to say here. It's Bard but worse, but not downgraded enough to fall out of tier 3.

    Savant: I have never seen this class used and know almost nothing about it. No rating.
    Last edited by StreamOfTheSky; 2017-03-11 at 03:45 AM.

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