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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    WhiteWizardGirl

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    Default High Powered Treatise

    Things regarding balance of various power levels are notorious in D&D. For time immemorial, Casters have been king, especially at high levels. Let's try to address the issue (civilly) here.

    Now, more than likely, everyone who participates in this discussion will take their own opinions away from it, so rather than having one, unified answer, we will have just that many more answers, but if possible, I would really like to try and get people on the same page about what is available, so that we stop having the same critiques on the same kinds of threads, only getting more and more heated.

    I'm going to precede each description with a possible tag to use, so that you can know what style people use when they make a thread, and I will edit this post as needed. I hope this gets some use, as I feel this could really aid some of the forum's high-power philosophical discussions.

    When approaching the problem from a homebrewing perspective, there are a few possible answers, note that I will not be including "ignoring the problem" as an answer.

    1) Nerf Casters [Magic Nerf]
    In this option, we balance by bringing caster's power down
    Merits: Simple, often involves only list shifting and stretching
    Problems: Amplifies early-game weakness of casters, limits options and coolness factor

    Added 3/18) Improve Existing [Mundane Buff]
    In this option, mundanes are improved at what they already do, without introducing dramatic mechanics.
    Merits: Doesn't add in a new system, requires no significant restructuring
    Problems: Accused of +Numbers, buff doesn't necessarily increase versatility

    2) Limit Non-magical advancement [Mundane Layer]
    In this option, we make it so that non-magical classes cannot advance to the same level as magical classes, so that we can say things like "You must be at least this magical to play this level"
    Merits: Also simple, would involve only compressing key features of mundane classes into less levels
    Problems: Doesn't allow people who don't like magic to experience high-level play

    3) Advanced Non-magical Subsystem [Hyper]
    In this option, we introduce mechanics that do not utilize magic in the traditional sense
    Merits: Allows Mundanes to have nice things, which is amazing, has the most creative potential of the options
    Problems: Complicated, also draws the most criticism, requires a delineation of what is magical and what is not, risks hand-waving and comparison to casting


    Clearly, each of these options has a lot of room for growth, I have only made very brief summaries. I will likely respond to this topic as well with some of my own thoughts, and of course I will respond to others, but I feel that one of the main purposes is to get the big homebrewers in here talking about the problem rather than their problems with each other's solutions.
    Last edited by ShiningStarling; 2018-03-18 at 05:46 PM.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    I often feel like "I want to play high levels without any form of magic" is something people say either because they have a different idea what scaling should look like (e.g: they think Conan is a good point to top out at), or they're just saying it to be contrary. High level martials may not be slinging spells or even anime level effects, but they can pull off at least the folklore level of a Paul Bunyan or thereabouts. And since D&D has a hard time making skills scale decently without any major bugginess, explicit abilities are where it's at.

    Of course, the other end of the problem is that with only the barest handful of limits, casters are defined as "can do everything". The fire themed sorcerer can stay with the party for quite a while before the sheer power of high level spells throws the balance off, and only allowing fixed list casters makes for a quick n' dirty balance patch. Unfortunately, omnimancers are one of those D&Disms that a very vocal part of the canvass is very attached to. Making new fixed list casters or even a gentleman's agreement with spontaneous casters can ease the pressure on a given table. But they don't solve the problem of unprepared players creating a vast power gap unintentionally. Nor do they provide an adequate patch unless the table has enough system mastery.

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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    The basic problem you have here is that there's a huge system of more or less disparate game mechanics that create imbalance between the PCs, and you try to fix it by going from mechanic to mechanic and changing stuff. That's not a good way to do things, for a host of reasons - time constraints, unforseen interactions between mechanics and so on.

    What you really need is a sort of a Designer's Bible for your new system that will clearly state what the expected power level is, how much can a class deviate from it and at what cost. I'm talking hard mathematics here - a character of X level should to Y expected damage per Z amount of time. Same with buffs, debuffs, stacking and larger concepts (e.g. is there such a thing as permadeath and how to achieve it).

    Once you have that, you'll know what you want to do, and can start implementing changes. This will inform whether you nerf debuffs, boost sword damage and so on.
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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    What you really need is a sort of a Designer's Bible for your new system that will clearly state what the expected power level is, how much can a class deviate from it and at what cost.
    It seems she's working towards that, with the exception that she's going to use large parts of 3.5 as a starting point. Before you write that Designer's Bible, you want to have a mission statement.

    I say it makes a ton of sense to decide what the end product should look like before you start designing and redesigning. She's starting with 3X as the background, which is her prerogative. So she's sketching out a way of thinking--does 15th level look like more like Conan (so you nerf casters hard so that they don't break the setting by existing--something like a hard ban on spells above 4th or 5th level, those spell slots used for metamagic or trade in for at-will spells) or more like Justice League (so martials look like the Hulk or the DC Captain Marvel)? Or option 3, which is harder for me write a quick analogy for, but you're probably starting with Tome of Battle / Path of War / Spheres of Might. (I don't know any of those 3 well enough to say any more.)

    That's a decision that has to be made at the start.

    EDIT: Oops.

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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    Quote Originally Posted by ObliviMancer View Post
    3) Advanced Non-magical Subsystem [Hyper]
    In this option, we introduce mechanics that do not utilize magic in the traditional sense
    Merits: Allows Mundanes to have nice things, which is amazing, has the most creative potential of the options
    Problems: Complicated, also draws the most criticism, requires a delineation of what is magical and what is not, risks hand-waving and comparison to casting
    As you probably already knew, I tend to favour this one or bringing casters down or both. I don't think that requiring a deliniation of what is magical and what isn't is a massive problem: anyone with remote intellectual honesty understands that there is a barrier between the possible-in-reality and the impossible-in-reality. You blur the boundaries a little bit with interaction with already-existent magical elements, but I think the difference between "I stab the summoned creature, break through the wall of force or walk through the gate" and "I reach into the weave and make a sword out of magical energy" is obvious. The problem of actually working out what abilities are both possible-in-reality and able to keep up with the casters is a harder, but solved, problem.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    As you probably already knew, I tend to favour this one or bringing casters down or both. I don't think that requiring a deliniation of what is magical and what isn't is a massive problem: anyone with remote intellectual honesty understands that there is a barrier between the possible-in-reality and the impossible-in-reality. You blur the boundaries a little bit with interaction with already-existent magical elements, but I think the difference between "I stab the summoned creature, break through the wall of force or walk through the gate" and "I reach into the weave and make a sword out of magical energy" is obvious. The problem of actually working out what abilities are both possible-in-reality and able to keep up with the casters is a harder, but solved, problem.

    [HYPER][MAGIC NERF]

    Very much agreed here, it's just a question of flavour and fluff.

    I also think spell fixes are in order. Knock and charm person should give bonuses to Open Lock and Diplomacy, a wall of force should create a barrier with defined hit points and hardness as you suggest, and so forth. As little "this spell creates an absolute effect that can only be overcome with other magic" as possible, IMHO.
    Last edited by rferries; 2018-03-18 at 12:41 PM.

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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    I don't like being devil's advocate, but I just want to keep in mind that while we're nerfing casters/buffing mundanes, casters should still maintain a certain level of appeal, and "buffing mundanes" still has its limits. The reason I say this is because I often see some "fixes" that go to extreme lengths with the justification that "I'm balancing it against T1". On that note, fixing tiers should have a target goal of what it should look like (T3, T4?).

    Uh, let's see what I can contribute: I suppose you could take the standard in-existence classes and improve their existing abilities that doesn't necessarily introduce a new subsystem. Kinda like a subsection of Hyper. Examples might include Jiriku's Monk Fix (Dance with the elements feature, specifically), and the The Avatar.

    Improve Existing [Mundane Buff]
    In this option, mundanes are improved at what they already do, without introducing dramatic mechanics.
    Merits: Doesn't add in a new system, ??? (I can't think of anything else, add on please?)
    Problems: Accused of +Numbers, buff doesn't increase versatility.
    Last edited by Goaty14; 2018-03-18 at 02:38 PM.
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    Quote Originally Posted by ObliviMancer View Post
    Things regarding balance of various power levels are notorious in D&D. For time immemorial, Casters have been king, especially at high levels. Let's try to address the issue (civilly) here.
    You have misidentified the problem. Or rather, you have described the problem in a loaded way. The problem is not "casters are king" it's "mundanes aren't powerful enough", or rather "casters have more power than mundanes".

    Merits: Simple, often involves only list shifting and stretching
    I disagree that this is simple. It is genuinely hard to figure out what the effects of shuffling around abilities would be. And it is very easy to undershoot, which is much worse than overshooting.

    Problems: Doesn't allow people who don't like magic to experience high-level play
    If we define "high level play" as "adventures that require magic" (which is a reasonable definition), those people can't be happy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    What you really need is a sort of a Designer's Bible for your new system that will clearly state what the expected power level is, how much can a class deviate from it and at what cost. I'm talking hard mathematics here - a character of X level should to Y expected damage per Z amount of time. Same with buffs, debuffs, stacking and larger concepts (e.g. is there such a thing as permadeath and how to achieve it).
    I don't think you want set of benchmarks exactly. I think you want something like the Same Game Test. Figure out what encounters you expect people to face, then test until they can actually beat those encounters. Obviously, if you wanted to really fix things, you'd need to define similar bench-marks for non-combat stuff.

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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    You don't strictly need a high-power, in-depth, subsystem to bump Martials up to the level of Spellcasters (though I would like a psionics equivalent to ToB's spellcasting-alike that covers the base classes ToB didn't), but it helps a lot by taking the load off class features. A shared list to draw from means the heavy lifting that's close to the ground and applicable to all the character types makes it generally a lot easier to work with, such as having a mechanical widget for parrying available to Fighter-analogues, Ranger-analogues and Rogue-analogues, with Paladins instead being locked to only blocking and other tank-the-blow widgets because the theme of Paladins is so heavily based on being the "Knight in Shining, Heavy Armor who Face Tanks the Forces of Evil".

    Decidedly supernatural mechanical widgets could be included, much like Tome of Battle has, but if the intent is primarily to have a mundane option that works at higher levels, you shift that off to partial casting and class features with the relevant things. Or confine them better to specific parts of the subsystem than Tome of Battle did, such that you can decide not to use them without seriously impacting your character's basic functionality and then make it so only the explicitly somewhat supernatural classes (or AFCs/PRCs) have access to them.

    Mechanics-wise, a nearly ideal way to structure a mundane subsystem would be cooldown/recharge mechanics being included, with "pushing" being available at the cost of Exhaustion stages with abnormal durations (much like Barbarian Rages, overriding the painfully absurd baseline duration). Tie the functionally per-encounter resources to flat numbers that tie into plausible amounts of time, such as minutes based recharge, which still lie outside of the typical encounter space. Encounters almost never running over 10 rounds, 1 minute recharge increments doesn't kick in for the majority of fights and will usually function as per-encounter.

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    WhiteWizardGirl

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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    I often feel like "I want to play high levels without any form of magic" is something people say either because they have a different idea what scaling should look like (e.g: they think Conan is a good point to top out at), or they're just saying it to be contrary. High level martials may not be slinging spells or even anime level effects, but they can pull off at least the folklore level of a Paul Bunyan or thereabouts. And since D&D has a hard time making skills scale decently without any major bugginess, explicit abilities are where it's at.

    Of course, the other end of the problem is that with only the barest handful of limits, casters are defined as "can do everything". The fire themed sorcerer can stay with the party for quite a while before the sheer power of high level spells throws the balance off, and only allowing fixed list casters makes for a quick n' dirty balance patch. Unfortunately, omnimancers are one of those D&Disms that a very vocal part of the canvass is very attached to. Making new fixed list casters or even a gentleman's agreement with spontaneous casters can ease the pressure on a given table. But they don't solve the problem of unprepared players creating a vast power gap unintentionally. Nor do they provide an adequate patch unless the table has enough system mastery.
    I agree with basically all of this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    The basic problem you have here is that there's a huge system of more or less disparate game mechanics that create imbalance between the PCs, and you try to fix it by going from mechanic to mechanic and changing stuff. That's not a good way to do things, for a host of reasons - time constraints, unforseen interactions between mechanics and so on.

    What you really need is a sort of a Designer's Bible for your new system that will clearly state what the expected power level is, how much can a class deviate from it and at what cost. I'm talking hard mathematics here - a character of X level should to Y expected damage per Z amount of time. Same with buffs, debuffs, stacking and larger concepts (e.g. is there such a thing as permadeath and how to achieve it).

    Once you have that, you'll know what you want to do, and can start implementing changes. This will inform whether you nerf debuffs, boost sword damage and so on.
    This is an alright idea, but seemingly ignores fluff and differentiation in role.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnbragg View Post
    It seems she's working towards that, with the exception that she's going to use large parts of 3.5 as a starting point. Before you write that Designer's Bible, you want to have a mission statement.

    I say it makes a ton of sense to decide what the end product should look like before you start designing and redesigning. She's starting with 3X as the background, which is her prerogative. So she's sketching out a way of thinking--does 15th level look like more like Conan (so you nerf casters hard so that they don't break the setting by existing--something like a hard ban on spells above 4th or 5th level, those spell slots used for metamagic or trade in for at-will spells) or more like Justice League (so martials look like the Hulk or the DC Captain Marvel)? Or option 3, which is harder for me write a quick analogy for, but you're probably starting with Tome of Battle / Path of War / Spheres of Might. (I don't know any of those 3 well enough to say any more.)

    That's a decision that has to be made at the start.
    Fixed your pronouns, and you are basically entirely correct, though I intend to have more of a patch than a new system when all's said and done.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    As you probably already knew, I tend to favour this one or bringing casters down or both. I don't think that requiring a deliniation of what is magical and what isn't is a massive problem: anyone with remote intellectual honesty understands that there is a barrier between the possible-in-reality and the impossible-in-reality. You blur the boundaries a little bit with interaction with already-existent magical elements, but I think the difference between "I stab the summoned creature, break through the wall of force or walk through the gate" and "I reach into the weave and make a sword out of magical energy" is obvious. The problem of actually working out what abilities are both possible-in-reality and able to keep up with the casters is a harder, but solved, problem.
    Personally, I see the delineation as necessary, since whether or not something happens in reality need not necessarily be the baseline for mundane. In faerunian terms, it may simply be whether something uses the Weave or doesn't, and Monks do not seem to despite their supernatural abilities, nor do Psionicists despite almost being a magic redux.

    In short, the most we can say about such a delineation is that it is Setting Specific, which is far from any kind of workable standard, and without magic in the real world to compare it to, we have to establish on our own where this line is drawn in any given subsystem. It may not seem utterly necessary, but its nice to make sure everyone's one the same fantasy-page.

    Quote Originally Posted by Goaty14 View Post
    I don't like being devil's advocate, but I just want to keep in mind that while we're nerfing casters/buffing mundanes, casters should still maintain a certain level of appeal, and "buffing mundanes" still has its limits. The reason I say this is because I often see some "fixes" that go to extreme lengths with the justification that "I'm balancing it against T1". On that note, fixing tiers should have a target goal of what it should look like (T3, T4?).

    Uh, let's see what I can contribute: I suppose you could take the standard in-existence classes and improve their existing abilities that doesn't necessarily introduce a new subsystem. Kinda like a subsection of Hyper. Examples might include Jiriku's Monk Fix (Dance with the elements feature, specifically), and the The Avatar.

    Improve Existing [Mundane Buff]
    In this option, mundanes are improved at what they already do, without introducing dramatic mechanics.
    Merits: Doesn't add in a new system, ??? (I can't think of anything else, add on please?)
    Problems: Accused of +Numbers, buff doesn't increase versatility.
    I agree with your first point, also, added, thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    You have misidentified the problem. Or rather, you have described the problem in a loaded way. The problem is not "casters are king" it's "mundanes aren't powerful enough", or rather "casters have more power than mundanes".
    Entirely a matter of opinion, and antithetical to the purpose of this thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    I disagree that this is simple. It is genuinely hard to figure out what the effects of shuffling around abilities would be. And it is very easy to undershoot, which is much worse than overshooting.
    Simple in that it is easy to describe to someone was my intent, i.e. "cut all high level casters, Bards and Adepts are the new standard" (Not necessarily a solution i would suggest, but the point stands), my bad on clarity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    If we define "high level play" as "adventures that require magic" (which is a reasonable definition), those people can't be happy.
    I think you're looking for the [Mundane Layer] tag there, my friend. :3

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    I don't think you want set of benchmarks exactly. I think you want something like the Same Game Test. Figure out what encounters you expect people to face, then test until they can actually beat those encounters. Obviously, if you wanted to really fix things, you'd need to define similar bench-marks for non-combat stuff.
    In full game design, yes! In patch-like terms, also sort of yes? However there's only so much time in the day, averages and basic math is the most testing that can reasonably be expected by homebrew entries on the forum (though if people do more rigorous testing than that, that's obviously great!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Morphic tide View Post
    You don't strictly need a high-power, in-depth, subsystem to bump Martials up to the level of Spellcasters (though I would like a psionics equivalent to ToB's spellcasting-alike that covers the base classes ToB didn't), but it helps a lot by taking the load off class features. A shared list to draw from means the heavy lifting that's close to the ground and applicable to all the character types makes it generally a lot easier to work with, such as having a mechanical widget for parrying available to Fighter-analogues, Ranger-analogues and Rogue-analogues, with Paladins instead being locked to only blocking and other tank-the-blow widgets because the theme of Paladins is so heavily based on being the "Knight in Shining, Heavy Armor who Face Tanks the Forces of Evil".

    Decidedly supernatural mechanical widgets could be included, much like Tome of Battle has, but if the intent is primarily to have a mundane option that works at higher levels, you shift that off to partial casting and class features with the relevant things. Or confine them better to specific parts of the subsystem than Tome of Battle did, such that you can decide not to use them without seriously impacting your character's basic functionality and then make it so only the explicitly somewhat supernatural classes (or AFCs/PRCs) have access to them.

    Mechanics-wise, a nearly ideal way to structure a mundane subsystem would be cooldown/recharge mechanics being included, with "pushing" being available at the cost of Exhaustion stages with abnormal durations (much like Barbarian Rages, overriding the painfully absurd baseline duration). Tie the functionally per-encounter resources to flat numbers that tie into plausible amounts of time, such as minutes based recharge, which still lie outside of the typical encounter space. Encounters almost never running over 10 rounds, 1 minute recharge increments doesn't kick in for the majority of fights and will usually function as per-encounter.
    Definitely solid concepts here! Though I would put in some sort of penalty for spellcasters casting spells if we were to put all nice mundane things behind fatigue (heck, maybe give them the same fatigue progression!)

    Solid discussion so far! Thank you all for keeping it civil, keep it up!
    Last edited by ShiningStarling; 2018-03-18 at 06:32 PM.
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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    The character classes were never intended to be balanced. Before you brand me as a heretic, let me explain.

    The character classes were intended to be complimentary. Each supports the others. A party of epic wizards can be mown down by a goblin horde, unless they have a meatshield. Tbe meatshield isn't going to get through that trapped and locked door without a rogue, who will certainly die without a cleric to heal him after each fight, and to make those fights short you need a wizard to lay down the heavy artillery.

    The idea that the classes all need to be equally effective in combat misses the entire point of classes. If everyone is equally good at everything you don't need classes. So wizards are good at dealing damage. They are limited by the number of spells they can cast, and if you were to track HP inflicted over an entire gaming session rather than just a single encounter, (we did this to settle a 'balance' argument in 1st ed.) you will see that the fighters start to rack up damage numbers only the wizard can hope to catch, with clerics right behind them.

    While mages, if they have only one encounter before they rest, seem impressive, they are not a class for solo play at all. By the third or fourth encounter they will become very poorly defended characters with virtually no offensive capability. In fact, they will prove incapable of reaching the boss of the dungeon without a team to support them. Fighters, on the other hand, can press on as long as they have HP, effectively mowing down foes without limits.

    The real 'uber' class is the cleric, but even here, over the long haul, the fighter has the advantages of HP and Damage potential. A cleric ends up squandering heals which leave him shy of effective combat spells simply because combat takes longer.

    Balance is a Questing Beast. You can chase it forever and never find it. Nobody has ever even seen one. This problem is made worse by video games in which any class is supposed to be as effective as any other in any situation. They never are, but wizards are 'made effective' by giving them spells which turn them into fighters. This penalizes fighters who cannot cast a spell to become wizards. This is not balance, with obvious results.

    The game was designed to be played by a team working toward a common goal. It is inappropriate, in that context, to demand they be equal. Instead, the game was designed so that at some point in the game everyone would get their moment of glory. If everyone plays the same class with the same abilities, nobody gets that moment where they are the one to make the difference.

    Seeking balance is an error of logic. It brings nothing to the table, but takes away the opportunity for each player to be the hero of the moment. The system as designed isn't perfect, but it rewards variety in playstyle. I submit that if one class excells over the others in your game, you should seek to build your adventures to reward diversity of character classes.

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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    If we define "high level play" as "adventures that require magic" (which is a reasonable definition), those people can't be happy.
    That's kind of his point; the problem with the system as it stands is that that is an accurate description of high-level play, and there are a TON of people who don't like being shoehorned into using magic like that- people like Jormungandr and Xefas, and numerous less prominent people who don't like the power gap and in some cases don't like casters at all. It's like a discussion I saw in one of the older Demotivator threads when someone posted a demotivator of a video-game Fighter character fresh from a fight, covered in blood and guts, and describing him as a 'real man,' and someone instantly responded with disdain and smugness that a caster would never need to get so filthy, and you see that whole debate all the time. High-level play, when you get down to it, is all about the power fantasy, and there are a lot of people whose power fantasy is all about physical power, about being an unstoppable warrior, and don't like having to put on a robe and wizard hat to keep doing that. To equate high-level play with magic use is to alienate a lot of fans of the genre, and that's why there's so much discussion and effort put into breaking that equation and allowing mundanes to stay mundane at high levels.

    EDIT: In regards to the previous post, which ninja'd me, there is a very strong logic behind your point. The problem is, as has been stated, high level casters are largely defined as 'do anything.' There are countless threads on how to make those limited spells per day count, to the point where it's almost impossible to actually get them to that nigh-defenseless point that's supposed to be their weakness. The problem with leaving things unbalanced is that the way casters are at high level, no, nobody else really gets a time to shine. The Rogue can find traps and open locks, but that was made irrelevant ages ago with Detect Traps and Knock. The Fighter has more HP and can deal damage without losing spell slots, but OH WAIT, we have reserve feats, so casters don't need to waste slots on DPS except in emergencies, and defenses like Wall of Force, Forcecage, summoned monsters, illusions, and contingent teleportation can very easily make a caster's HP irrelevant. The only thing keeping a caster from completely dominating the party at that point is that the DM and other players would get angry and reign them in. That doesn't sound like an intentional feature, or a desirable result of the variety system. The sheer versatility of casters means that there is no reward for variety in high levels, because they can do everyone else's job better and have numerous ways to turtle up for a bit if their spell slots ever actually hinder them.
    Last edited by Gideon Falcon; 2018-03-18 at 07:24 PM.
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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    Quote Originally Posted by ObliviMancer View Post
    Definitely solid concepts here! Though I would put in some sort of penalty for spellcasters casting spells if we were to put all nice mundane things behind fatigue (heck, maybe give them the same fatigue progression!)
    Actually, it's more akin to Body Fuel or Overchannel from Psionics. Take a penalty to go past the normal limits, rather than keep up with the penalties. So if you are being outclassed anyways, or need more than you have for another reason, you have an option to punch up past the initial balance point in a way that's intended to not outright break the game, relative to that balance point (for example, it might let you hit t2 from an intended t3, but getting to t1 is still out of reach).

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    *snip*
    This is one of the rather important things, to me. A Bard in a party that lacks a proper Diplomancer or a decent healer fits in perfectly fine, being able to interact in most situations and having party roles filled only by them. T1 is not a good design goal specifically because of this fact, because t1 is specifically defined by not needing anyone else. t2 has vast power, but that power houses gaps in it that require others to fill it, meaning you still have a good reason to be in a party instead of rolling over things alone.

    This is why my ideal t1 "mundane" character has two immensely important gaps in ability... With a class feature to offer access a pseudo-NPC class made specifically to fill those gaps, which still works perfectly fine as a moderately specialized PC akin to a Warmage or Healer. Well, one step up from there, two-topic rather than one-topic, but the topics are closely connected. If you don't want that, so be it, you can have a differently-specialized sidekick to help you out in other ways, the important part is that there's an intentional t1 option that keeps the PC themselves mundane without getting crazypants.

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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    Quote Originally Posted by Gideon Falcon View Post
    EDIT: In regards to the previous post, which ninja'd me, there is a very strong logic behind your point. The problem is, as has been stated, high level casters are largely defined as 'do anything.' There are countless threads on how to make those limited spells per day count, to the point where it's almost impossible to actually get them to that nigh-defenseless point that's supposed to be their weakness. The problem with leaving things unbalanced is that the way casters are at high level, no, nobody else really gets a time to shine. The Rogue can find traps and open locks, but that was made irrelevant ages ago with Detect Traps and Knock. The Fighter has more HP and can deal damage without losing spell slots, but OH WAIT, we have reserve feats, so casters don't need to waste slots on DPS except in emergencies, and defenses like Wall of Force, Forcecage, summoned monsters, illusions, and contingent teleportation can very easily make a caster's HP irrelevant. The only thing keeping a caster from completely dominating the party at that point is that the DM and other players would get angry and reign them in. That doesn't sound like an intentional feature, or a desirable result of the variety system. The sheer versatility of casters means that there is no reward for variety in high levels, because they can do everyone else's job better and have numerous ways to turtle up for a bit if their spell slots ever actually hinder them.
    As a DM, when I see one player getting the lion's share of the glory I create opportunities for the other guys. Even at epic levels the sixth or eighth trap will get the supermage. Multiple swarms of very weak foes, such as goblins, will eventually overwhelm epic wizards, especially with time between the encounters. Even very simpld locks will defeat an epic mage or force her to waste valuable spell slots.

    Unless your game is intended for a solo mage, she should not be ablo to solo even a moderately balanced dungeon. Creating a Swiss Army Knife character may be okay, but it's hardly the optimal approach.

    Here's a challenge: create a dungeon that requires and rewards team play. It's not hard. In fact, it's quite fun. Now, take a party of all wizards into it, then take a party of the same level as the wizards, but composed of an optomized fighter, wizard, cleric, and rogue, and see who gets closer to accomplishing the goal.

    Back in my NWN days I used to run with a diverse team who understood team play, and we routinely beat unbeatable challenges. We were often accused of cheating, but the only thing we did wrong was to specialize our characters so everyone was best at supporting everyone else. Generalization is for omnivores, and we were predators.

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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    As a DM, when I see one player getting the lion's share of the glory I create opportunities for the other guys. Even at epic levels the sixth or eighth trap will get the supermage. Multiple swarms of very weak foes, such as goblins, will eventually overwhelm epic wizards, especially with time between the encounters. Even very simpld locks will defeat an epic mage or force her to waste valuable spell slots.
    That's cool, but the goal here is to 'fix' the problem and not let a single player get the lion's share to the point where the DM has to take note for everybody to have fun. I mean, some classes do need to be fixed, one way or another. NPC classes are probably intended to be T6, so the adventurers can show off, but those poor T5 classes can't even do what they're intended to be doing which makes your opportunities given go from "Ranger needs to go track and hunt down a dire lion" to "(T5) Ranger needs to go track and hunt down a dire lion who only has 3 legs and has been poisoned 3 different times."

    TL;DR I guess you could DM that way, but the goal of homebrew is to prevent somebody from getting the lion's share in the first place. Some classes (T5, I'm looking at you) need some sort of buff in the first place, or else they don't shine in situations where they should!

    Conclusion: Homebrewing a better balance structure is to make your job (DMing) easier.
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    killing and eating a bag of rats is probably kosher.
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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    Quote Originally Posted by Goaty14 View Post
    That's cool, but the goal here is to 'fix' the problem and not let a single player get the lion's share to the point where the DM has to take note for everybody to have fun. I mean, some classes do need to be fixed, one way or another. NPC classes are probably intended to be T6, so the adventurers can show off, but those poor T5 classes can't even do what they're intended to be doing which makes your opportunities given go from "Ranger needs to go track and hunt down a dire lion" to "(T5) Ranger needs to go track and hunt down a dire lion who only has 3 legs and has been poisoned 3 different times."

    TL;DR I guess you could DM that way, but the goal of homebrew is to prevent somebody from getting the lion's share in the first place. Some classes (T5, I'm looking at you) need some sort of buff in the first place, or else they don't shine in situations where they should!

    Conclusion: Homebrewing a better balance structure is to make your job (DMing) easier.
    I disagree. The only reason any one class gets the lion's share is due to poor design. I have created dungeons which are rogue-fests or brawlerbowls more often than mage fairs, but I have built dungeons which favor a particular class at one time or another. It's my place to fix the dungeon when that happens.

    If you are having trouble making a ranger useful in any campaign, this is not a flaw in the character class, it's a flaw in DMing. Rangers are versatile, so they are seldom the optimal choice for many purposes, but they excel as mage killers when built for that. At equal levels in a fair duel, my ranger will take down your mage every time. The only way a wizard has a chance is if combat begins in an empty arena, and then she probably won't even get off a high level spell with all the arrows raining down on her.

    The classes which have the most focus are the most powerful, and the more versatile characters sacrifice some power. But when you build a team the weaknesses of some characters are negated by the strengths of others. In my previous example, my ranger would be in for a rough ride if your mage has a rogue friend to back her move.

    Balance between character classes is never going to happen. Every attempt I've seen since the 1970s has only altered where the imbalance lies. But DMing with an eye to balanced challenges produces positive results every time.

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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Seeking balance is an error of logic. It brings nothing to the table, but takes away the opportunity for each player to be the hero of the moment. The system as designed isn't perfect, but it rewards variety in playstyle. I submit that if one class excells over the others in your game, you should seek to build your adventures to reward diversity of character classes.
    I submit that you don't understand what the word "balance" means, or what people mean when they talk about the need for it. As long as you can make a DMM:Persist Cleric who can fight as well as a Fighter and also seem the future and summon angels, the Fighter sucks. Not because he couldn't theoretically be useful in a different specialty than an also-useful Wizard, but because he is practically less good in his specialty than a caster filling that niche.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gideon Falcon View Post
    That's kind of his point; the problem with the system as it stands is that that is an accurate description of high-level play, and there are a TON of people who don't like being shoehorned into using magic like that- people like Jormungandr and Xefas, and numerous less prominent people who don't like the power gap and in some cases don't like casters at all.
    But nerfing casters doesn't solve that problem. It means that those adventures aren't part of the game, but there is nothing you can do that will make "not have plane shift" a viable life choice when the adventure starts with "Orcus has kidnapped your princess". You can say that all adventures have to have mundane solutions, but all that does is cut some adventures out of the game. It doesn't make magic and not-magic equal.

    High-level play, when you get down to it, is all about the power fantasy, and there are a lot of people whose power fantasy is all about physical power, about being an unstoppable warrior, and don't like having to put on a robe and wizard hat to keep doing that.
    So they can play Thor. Or the Hulk. Or a Space Marine Primarch. Or some kind of Xianxia Kung Fu master. There's a lot of stuff that is better than a normal dude (even stuff that is magic), but not a Wizard. There is absolutely no problem with Epic physical characters. The problem is with trying to pretend that a normal dude who is just really tough but totally physically plausible can beat up a giant made of ice the size of a mountain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morphic tide View Post
    T1 is not a good design goal specifically because of this fact, because t1 is specifically defined by not needing anyone else. t2 has vast power, but that power houses gaps in it that require others to fill it, meaning you still have a good reason to be in a party instead of rolling over things alone.
    None of the tiers make good design targets, because they were never intended to be design targets. They were designed to describe the game as it exists, warts and all. None of them are prefect design targets, because no classes are perfectly designed.

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    As a DM, when I see one player getting the lion's share of the glory I create opportunities for the other guys. Even at epic levels the sixth or eighth trap will get the supermage.
    I mean, unless that Supermage is a Beguiler. A Beguiler is able to disable however many traps you put in front of her, what with getting Search, Disable Device, and Trapfinding. Hell, even a 1-level Rogue dip on some kind of Spellwarped Sniper or Unseen Seer build suffices for this.

    Multiple swarms of very weak foes, such as goblins, will eventually overwhelm epic wizards, especially with time between the encounters.
    It's not terribly difficult to put together a suite of Persistent buffs that allow you to chew through an arbitrary number of goblins (or at least, more than a Fighter).

    Even very simpld locks will defeat an epic mage or force her to waste valuable spell slots.
    Not if the mage is our aforementioned Beguiler. Or a Primal Scholar who gets infinite uses of all his 5th level or lower spell slots.

    You can build a mage (broadly defined here as "someone with 90% or higher of their levels in psionic or casting classes that top out at 9th level slots or PrCs that progress those classes"*) who is better than the corresponding non-mage (broadly defined here as "someone with 10% or lower of their levels in any class or PrC that grants psionics or spellcasting at 1st level"*) at any task, and you can fill a party with those characters. For example, a party like:

    Beguiler/Rainbow Servant/Shadowcraft Mage
    Cleric/Dweomerkeeper/Who Cares, Contemplative I Guess?
    Wizard/Incantatrix/Primal Scholar
    Druid/Planar Shepherd/More Druid

    What challenge are you giving those people where they would want a Fighter more than any of the other party members? And it's not like you couldn't write challenges for this party if you wanted to, those challenges would just completely obliterate any mundane character who showed up on the same plane.

    *: Do people think those definitions are reasonable? I'm trying to avoid something like having a Warlock/Ur-Priest as a non-mage or a Bardblade as a mage.

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    annoyed Re: High Powered Treatise

    This discussion is getting off-topic, and should be moved to another thread.

    Case in point: Your GMing might be able to solve balance problems for your group, but that doesn't quite apply to every group, and attempts to explain your tactics can be interpreted differently from group-to-group. Rules on the other hand, cannot be misinterpreted if read and written correctly.

    I am resisting the (very) strong urge to prove wizard > ranger just as easily as wizard > fighter, but that's a rant for another day. Move it to another thread please.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Venger View Post
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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    What if we tweaked the epic feats, or at least the epic feats on the fighter, ranger, monk, and paladin lists to not require a level above 20 to take but instead require a base attack bonus of at least 11? (edit: also, any base attack bonus requirements these feats already possess would be adjusted downward by 9 to a minimum of 11)

    EDIT:
    oh, and also make use magic device a class skill for all PC classes; thus mitigating the need-planeshift-to-save-the-princess-from-orcus issue
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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    What if we tweaked the epic feats, or at least the epic feats on the fighter, ranger, monk, and paladin lists to not require a level above 20 to take but instead require a base attack bonus of at least 11? (edit: also, any base attack bonus requirements these feats already possess would be adjusted downward by 9 to a minimum of 11)
    That helps some in combat, but far from enough, and it doesn't do much to fix non-combat. Which is IMHO the much bigger problem. You can build a Fighter who does meaningful amounts of combat damage. It takes some work, and you still don't get something as useful as a Wizard, but you get a non-trivial threat and it can be done. It's all but impossible to get abilities like fabricate out of anything that isn't a caster.

    oh, and also make use magic device a class skill for all PC classes; thus mitigating the need-planeshift-to-save-the-princess-from-orcus issue
    Honestly "you buy a magic item to solve your problem" does not really make me more convinced you are really a high level character. Also, it enshrines the Magic Item Christmas Tree, when we should be trying to move away from it. Part of the reason Fighters need to have their own answers to "you must be this tall to ride" challenges is so that we don't have to let people buy magic items.

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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    Quote Originally Posted by ObliviMancer View Post
    I agree with basically all of this.
    Personally, I see the delineation as necessary, since whether or not something happens in reality need not necessarily be the baseline for mundane.
    -SNIP-
    In short, the most we can say about such a delineation is that it is Setting Specific, which is far from any kind of workable standard, and without magic in the real world to compare it to, we have to establish on our own where this line is drawn in any given subsystem. It may not seem utterly necessary, but its nice to make sure everyone's one the same fantasy-page.
    This.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    But nerfing casters doesn't solve that problem. It means that those adventures aren't part of the game, but there is nothing you can do that will make "not have plane shift" a viable life choice when the adventure starts with "Orcus has kidnapped your princess". You can say that all adventures have to have mundane solutions, but all that does is cut some adventures out of the game. It doesn't make magic and not-magic equal.
    Not having the spell doesn't necessarily rule out the adventure, but it does drastically change it. Just b/c no one has plane shift doesn't rule out the possibility of a naturally occuring planer gate. The need to find said gate may change "Orcus has kidnapped your princess" from being a single session into an ongoing story arc, but it is still an option.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    So they can play Thor. Or the Hulk. Or a Space Marine Primarch. Or some kind of Xianxia Kung Fu master. There's a lot of stuff that is better than a normal dude (even stuff that is magic), but not a Wizard. There is absolutely no problem with Epic physical characters. The problem is with trying to pretend that a normal dude who is just really tough but totally physically plausible can beat up a giant made of ice the size of a mountain.
    I don't see anything in Gideon Falcon's post about a "normal dude"
    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    None of the tiers make good design targets, because they were never intended to be design targets. They were designed to describe the game as it exists, warts and all. None of them are prefect design targets, because no classes are perfectly designed.



    I mean, unless that Supermage is a Beguiler. A Beguiler is able to disable however many traps you put in front of her, what with getting Search, Disable Device, and Trapfinding. Hell, even a 1-level Rogue dip on some kind of Spellwarped Sniper or Unseen Seer build suffices for this.



    It's not terribly difficult to put together a suite of Persistent buffs that allow you to chew through an arbitrary number of goblins (or at least, more than a Fighter).



    Not if the mage is our aforementioned Beguiler. Or a Primal Scholar who gets infinite uses of all his 5th level or lower spell slots.

    You can build a mage (broadly defined here as "someone with 90% or higher of their levels in psionic or casting classes that top out at 9th level slots or PrCs that progress those classes"*) who is better than the corresponding non-mage (broadly defined here as "someone with 10% or lower of their levels in any class or PrC that grants psionics or spellcasting at 1st level"*) at any task, and you can fill a party with those characters. For example, a party like:

    Beguiler/Rainbow Servant/Shadowcraft Mage
    Cleric/Dweomerkeeper/Who Cares, Contemplative I Guess?
    Wizard/Incantatrix/Primal Scholar
    Druid/Planar Shepherd/More Druid

    What challenge are you giving those people where they would want a Fighter more than any of the other party members? And it's not like you couldn't write challenges for this party if you wanted to, those challenges would just completely obliterate any mundane character who showed up on the same plane.

    *: Do people think those definitions are reasonable? I'm trying to avoid something like having a Warlock/Ur-Priest as a non-mage or a Bardblade as a mage.
    Agreed; And yes, those definitions look reasonable to me.

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    Default Re: High Powered Treatise

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranged Ranger View Post
    Not having the spell doesn't necessarily rule out the adventure, but it does drastically change it. Just b/c no one has plane shift doesn't rule out the possibility of a naturally occuring planer gate. The need to find said gate may change "Orcus has kidnapped your princess" from being a single session into an ongoing story arc, but it is still an option.
    The difference between being high level and being low level is what things are single sessions and what things are ongoing arcs. You can always go to hell by finding a portal, so going to hell via a portal is not a high level adventure.

    I don't see anything in Gideon Falcon's post about a "normal dude"
    I think you're missing the broader context. The point I was making is that there are physical characters that are appropriate at high level, but not mundane ones. Thor is definitely a physical character. But he's equally definitely a magical character. I think the problem is that people (on both sides) tend to equate the difference between mundane and magical with the difference between Fighters and Wizards, which isn't accurate. Wizards aren't mundane, but not all non-mundane characters are Wizards.

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