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    Default Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Frequently, I hear "this is a good class," "this is a bad class," "this is a mediocre class, but for X," and similar statements. I took a chance to delve a bit deeper and discover what exactly it is that makes a good class.

    Rule 1: I Have A Party Role
    In general, classes that have a determined role in the party (such as "frontliner", "arcanist", "healer", "party face", or "trapper") are better than those that do not, if only because their class features have a determined, progressing focus. In some cases, this is not a traditional party role. The Duskblade, for instance, is not a "frontliner", nor is he an "arcanist"--he fills the "gish" role.

    Rule 2: I Can Do Something No One Else Can
    Classes that gain class features that no one else has access to--or easy access to--makes a good class. It doesn't necessarily make a strong class, but it does make a good one. Bards, for instance, have access to Bardic Music--there are few other ways of acquiring Bardic Music besides the Bard class. Bardic Music, while useful, is not known as the be-all-end-all of party buffing.

    Similarly, a Fighter gains a boatload of feats--and nothing else. This is a bad thing. Everyone gets feats, and the few that are Fighter-only are not all that terrific. Due to this, there's no real reason to be a fighter other than to acquire a number of feats--usually merely as a stepping stone towards something else.

    Rule 3: I Am Unique
    Classes that reward uniqueness and ingenuity are good classes. For instance, the Spellthief rewards those who find inventive ways to steal their foes' own powers to use against them.

    In the same vein, the Wu Jen and the Sorceror--while strong classes--are not good classes. Nearly anything the Wu Jen or Sorceror can do, a Wizard can do just as well, if not better. The Wu Jen has a limited spell list; the Wizard does not. The Sorceror has no bonus feats, does not have access to spells as early as the Wizard, and has trouble with metamagic (particularly Quicken Spell); the Wizard does not.

    In fact, this is the fundamental problem with a widely-accepted sub-par class: the Warlock. While a good idea in premise, the Warlock is incapable of doing much--if anything--that the Wizard or Sorceror are not also capable of doing within the normal scope of their powers. The Warlock would be a far cry better--in fact, might even be a powerhouse akin to the Wizard--if it had its own unique powers, instead of mockeries of existing spells.

    Rule 4: I Am Not Dependent On More Than Three Stats
    ...and even three stats is pushing it.

    Classes that depend on four or more high attribute scores are generally not very good classes. The Monk, for instance, is broadly accepted to be one of the worst offenders of MAD (Multiple Attribute Dependency) in the game. An effective Monk needs high Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, and Wisdom--the first three for combat, Intelligence for skills, and Wisdom for class features. Similarly, an effective Paladin needs high Strength, Constitution, Wisdom, and Charisma.

    Classes that have less MAD--or even are SAD (Single Attribute Dependent)--are generally better classes. The Bard, for instance, can benefit from high scores in any statistic, but really only depends on a high Charisma to be truly effective. All of the Bard's class features run off of Charisma: casting, bardic music, and his role of "party face". This makes a better class, since its features are centralized around one prime score. And in fact, this makes it easier for two Bards to look different from one another: one Bard may be a swashbuckling fencer--represented by stronger physical scores--while another may be a brilliant mastermind--represented by a higher investiture into mental scores.

    Rule 5: I Have Room For Personalization
    Classes that look exactly like every other member of their class are generally bad classes. Good classes have the ability to personalize the class--even if merely through bonus feats. In this regard, a Fighter is a decent class: it is the ultimate in personalization (but see Rule 2 for why it's still a bad class). Spellcasters are also good classes since their spells known, prepared, carried on scrolls, et al. are different from one spellcaster to the next. No two Wizards will have the same spellbook; no two Sorcerors will know the same spells.

    On the other hand, the Paladin class--aside from its spellcasting--has no room to personalize the class. Every Paladin gains the same features, and as such presents a very one-sided "kind" of Paladin. Certainly, one can personalize through other means--race, feat selection, spell use, personality--but the class itself does not assist in that regard.

    Rule 6: I Have A Reason To Not Enter A Prestige Class
    Surprisingly, most classes are bad offenders of this--the spellcasting classes even more so than others. A good class rewards a player for staying within its bounds for his entire career; a bad one has no reason for a player to stay inside it.

    The Spellthief, again, is an example of a good class: without entering a prestige class, you gain access to the amazing Absorb Spell ability. Rogues, too, are a good example: after tenth level, they acquire a list of abilities that are difficult to acquire from other sources.

    Sorcerors are the worst offenders of this: they literally have no reason to stay within the class beyond their (mediocre) familiar.
    [hr]
    Depending on the response to this article, I may continue with other aspects of the game later.
    Last edited by Fax Celestis; 2007-09-05 at 02:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Loverly! And certainly quite true. I know you would never have said this, Fax, but I'm glad "I have good flavor" isn't up there, a lot of people seem to mistake flavor for being a good thing about a class.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    What can I say, that's preety accurate. Also, I like the distinction between "good" and "strong" classes. Bard is, in some regards, a good class, but it's not strong class. The ideal example of both weak and bad class is(as always) CW Samurai- not only he's weak as hell but doesn't have anything that'd make him any different from other fighting classes.
    Last edited by Morty; 2007-09-05 at 02:18 PM.
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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Starsinger View Post
    Loverly! And certainly quite true. I know you would never have said this, Fax, but I'm glad "I have good flavor" isn't up there, a lot of people seem to mistake flavor for being a good thing about a class.
    I agree. The biggest offenders of this would be the game designers. They often get what they think the "Flavor" a class should be stuck to deeply in thier head when they dole out class abilities. Then you end up with a class that many others can't or won't use because the "flavor" isn't somethign they liked. Or because the class abilities they gave based on this flavor mess up the class.

    I feel the Monk, Warlocke, & Wu-Jen are all good examples of this. These classes are built around the flavor the original designer had in mind and I believe they all suffer because of it. More so the Monk, & Warlocke. Base classes simply shouldn't have alignment restrictions on them. Actually I don't feel any classes should have alignment restrictions. The classes are mechanical tools, the flavor should be more flexible.

    The Monk I mean, has both alignment restrictions and you can't multi class out of it and return to it. On top of all of it's other problems. This is due to the designers flavor getting all up in the mix. The designer pretty much designed the Monk class from watching old episodes of Kung Fu. So to be a Monk we all have to be David Carrodine.
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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Small mistake--Wu Jen keep spellbooks, they don't have limited spells known.

    Beyond that? I agree with most points, but I don't think I'd call the Warlock a bad class, if only out of the fact that it's a horrifyingly fun class to actually play.
    Last edited by GryffonDurime; 2007-09-05 at 02:29 PM.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Starsinger View Post
    Loverly! And certainly quite true. I know you would never have said this, Fax, but I'm glad "I have good flavor" isn't up there, a lot of people seem to mistake flavor for being a good thing about a class.
    Flavor is something you make, not something you choose, and as such isn't really applicable to which class you play. A swashbuckler, for instance, can be a Rogue/Fighter, a Ranger, a Swashbuckler, or even a Battle Sorceror.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by GryffonDurime View Post
    Small mistake--Wu Jen keep spellbooks, they don't have limited spells known.

    Beyond that? I agree with most points, but I don't think I'd call the Warlock a bad class, if only out of the fact that it's a horrifyingly fun class to actually play.
    The Warlock isn't a "bad" class--it's just not a good one either. Anything it can do, someone else can do just as easily, and without a lot of the limitations of the Warlock.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Very nice post.
    *Claps*

    I think you forgot about dipping. Front-loaded classes (Barbarian, Fighter) are considered bad because you're better off taking something else after a few levels.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax_Celestis View Post
    The Warlock isn't a "bad" class--it's just not a good one either. Anything it can do, someone else can do just as easily, and without a lot of the limitations of the Warlock.
    No one else can throw around magic like candy, though--everyone else does have some limit that they will, eventually, reach.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by GryffonDurime View Post
    No one else can throw around magic like candy, though--everyone else does have some limit that they will, eventually, reach.
    And that is the Warlock's saving grace. But for that, it would totally suck.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    As a "These are the general thoughts of the forum-goers" I think this article defines a lot of issues posters use to explain why a class is good or bad.

    That being said, my groups generally stay away from wizards, sorcerors, and bards. Wizards and sorcerors because we play low magic, magic is feared, and because most people in my group really like rolling dice.

    Bards I think because of the stigma associated with them being weaklings, or unmanly, or whatever, they seem to have a lot of negative fluff associated to them.

    So I would say that there is really no such thing as a "bad class" or a "good class". If someone says that a particular class sucks, I think that would be more telling about their group's playstyle than anything else.

    I could parade a couple of people around who would swear that wizards suck big time, and while most people would point at them and say "You're wrong", in the campaigns those players are in, wizards are more heavily-restricted than the typical way wizards are viewed on the board, and as such they aren't nearly as fun to play as a fighter might be.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    That was very interesting. It was clear, to the point, and most importantly, gives the reader a clear standard to evaluate non-mentioned classes. I hope this is the beginning of a series; what other aspects of 3.5 do you plan to write about?

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tormsskull View Post
    I could parade a couple of people around who would swear that wizards suck big time, and while most people would point at them and say "You're wrong", in the campaigns those players are in, wizards are more heavily-restricted than the typical way wizards are viewed on the board, and as such they aren't nearly as fun to play as a fighter might be.
    House rules change the balance of things. This is accepted. If you half the number of spells that wizards get, or half the speed at which they get them, then yes, other classes are more fun to play.

    Also, he's just using them as examples, not directly commenting on the classes.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax_Celestis View Post
    Flavor is something you make, not something you choose, and as such isn't really applicable to which class you play. A swashbuckler, for instance, can be a Rogue/Fighter, a Ranger, a Swashbuckler, or even a Battle Sorceror.
    Yes, I know that, but a lot of people think "I want to be someone who swashes buckles! I had best be a swashbuckler mechanically as well."

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tormsskull View Post
    So I would say that there is really no such thing as a "bad class" or a "good class". If someone says that a particular class sucks, I think that would be more telling about their group's playstyle than anything else.

    I could parade a couple of people around who would swear that wizards suck big time, and while most people would point at them and say "You're wrong", in the campaigns those players are in, wizards are more heavily-restricted than the typical way wizards are viewed on the board, and as such they aren't nearly as fun to play as a fighter might be.
    And because everyone's playstyle varies, we can only discuss the terms of the game within a common concept: that is, as it appears in the book. The above rules apply to such a situation and may or may not apply in a different one.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by h_v View Post
    That was very interesting. It was clear, to the point, and most importantly, gives the reader a clear standard to evaluate non-mentioned classes. I hope this is the beginning of a series; what other aspects of 3.5 do you plan to write about?
    I was considering a "Why Is This A Good Spell", a "Why Is This Broken", and "Why Is This Level-Adjusted".

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by martyboy74 View Post
    House rules change the balance of things. This is accepted. If you half the number of spells that wizards get, or half the speed at which they get them, then yes, other classes are more fun to play.
    Yeah, but I'm not talking about house rules. I'm talking about how the RAW is interpreted. Just a few examples are: Training rules, availability of scrolls, availability of specific spells.

    When someone says "House rules" it implies you are changing the game from the way it is meant to be played. IMO a house rule would be like "Wizards don't get any new spells when they gain a level, only those they learn from scrolls." While a particular interpretation might be "The 2 spells that a wizard learns from gaining a level is the result of their research/knowledge from adventuring. Thus if certain spells cannot be discovered through research in the particular area that the PC Wizard happens to be, they cannot select that spell."

    In other words, the way that players typical play D&D is that "I can do it unless the books specifically tell me I can't." But that isn't written anywhere, and is only as valid a view as the "You can only do it if it is written somewhere."

    Quote Originally Posted by martyboy74 View Post
    Also, he's just using them as examples, not directly commenting on the classes.
    I know. That's why I said as a general "This is why the forum-goers think" type article, this is pretty spot-on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax_Celestis
    And because everyone's playstyle varies, we can only discuss the terms of the game within a common concept: that is, as it appears in the book. The above rules apply to such a situation and may or may not apply in a different one.
    Common concept = the way the forum-goers interpret what appears in the book. Not to split hairs here, but it is important to remember that just because the majority of people in one specific venue (i.e. the posters of Giantitp forums) think that RAW = 1 thing, does not mean that that is always the case.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Fax_celeste, I applaud you for writing a very thought provoking article. This is could potentially be a great article to sticky in the homebrew section for people interesting in homebrewing a PrC or a base class.

    I do think though, that you need to dedicate a little blurb to what is "good" and what is "strong". while it is strongly implied throughout the article, I think explicitly spelling it out can help people flesh out guidelines for it.

    to quickly summarize though

    1. Party Role
    2. Unique abilities (merged 2 and 3 here)
    3. MAD
    4. Customization
    5. Growth Potential

    these are the areas of concerns that you've outlined. a lot of them overlap but each I think deserves it's own article.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Starsinger View Post
    Yes, I know that, but a lot of people think "I want to be someone who swashes buckles! I had best be a swashbuckler mechanically as well."
    Actually, the correct term is "Buckles Swash."

    Excellent article!
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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tormsskull View Post
    In other words, the way that players typical play D&D is that "I can do it unless the books specifically tell me I can't." But that isn't written anywhere, and is only as valid a view as the "You can only do it if it is written somewhere."
    This came up A LOT in 3rd edition 40k. The British game developers wrote it with the idea that "these are what you're allowed to do in the game." The American audience read the rules and put their viewpoint of "If it doesn't say I can't do it, I can." As a result, there were a LOT of exploits constantly found.
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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by lordsmoothe
    Actually, the correct term is "Buckles Swash."
    Surely some over-pedantic person will appear now and lecture everyone about the etymology being from the swashing sounds of sword-and-buckler fighting. oops, I'm the monster at the end of this book!
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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tormsskull View Post
    While a particular interpretation might be "The 2 spells that a wizard learns from gaining a level is the result of their research/knowledge from adventuring. Thus if certain spells cannot be discovered through research in the particular area that the PC Wizard happens to be, they cannot select that spell."
    I understand the point you're trying to make, but you are wrong here. In the example you gave, that would be a house rule, not an interpretation of RAW. It's not an interpretation of something the rules state, as nothing is stated that limits spell selection in that manner; it's something that is being applied to the rules in a manner consistent with what a particular DM believes should be the case. That's house-ruling, not interpreting.

    An interpretation is being done when the rules make a direct statement that can be taken to mean more than one thing.
    A type of house-ruling is being done when the DM is adding something he believes is consistent with the intent of the rules, but that is not directly stated anywhere in the rules.
    Last edited by tainsouvra; 2007-09-05 at 04:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by GryffonDurime View Post
    No one else can throw around magic like candy, though--everyone else does have some limit that they will, eventually, reach.
    Every caster can with Reserve Feats.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax_Celestis View Post
    And because everyone's playstyle varies, we can only discuss the terms of the game within a common concept: that is, as it appears in the book. The above rules apply to such a situation and may or may not apply in a different one.
    But where the rules turn out to _not_ be a common concept, then what's the point? That's why I think discussion of class quality is limited in application, at best; because I feel people who actually play by the rulebook are a minority.

    Also, between all of those rules, I'm pretty sure the only "good" core class is the Druid?

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by tainsouvra View Post
    It's not an interpretation of something the rules state, as nothing is stated that limits spell selection in that manner; it's something that is being applied to the rules in a manner consistent with what a particular DM believes should be the case. That's house-ruling, not interpreting.
    Well, that's open to discussion. But by your statement, specifically "as nothing is stated that limits spell selection in that manner" would lead me to believe you ascribe to the "can do anything unless stated otherwise" thoughts like I mentioned in my earlier post.

    Quote Originally Posted by tainsouvra View Post
    An interpretation is being done when the rules make a direct statement that can be taken to mean more than one thing.
    I agree. So say the rules say "These spells represent the results of her research." Now, if the character had absolutely no time to "research" for spells since she gained her last level, would it be a house rule to prevent said character from gaining new spells? Or would it be an interpretation of the above sentence?

    Another good example: "The form chosen must be that of an animal that the druid is familiar with." Now, is there anywhere in the rules book where it says how a druid become familiar with a particular type of animal? If so, show me where. If not, would you consider it a house rule if the DM required a particular Knowledge (Nature) check, or if the DM required that the druid PC had met the animal in game? Or would that be an interpretation?

    Quote Originally Posted by tainsouvra View Post
    A type of house-ruling is being done when the DM is adding something he believes is consistent with the intent of the rules, but that is not directly stated anywhere in the rules.
    That really doesn't make sense though. If the DM interprets something to mean something, and then adds a rule to represent that, then that is house ruling? If so, then preventing a character from taking actions when they are suffering from the "dead" condition would be a house rule? Because, as has been pointed out, it doesn't specify that a character cannot take actions when they are dead. It mentions that a character's soul leave their body, but I don't recall reading any rules that state that a character must have a soul to act.

    Now, you'll probably say "But its common sense that a dead character can't act." And I'd agree. But I'd also say that it is common sense that if a Wizard requires research to learn new spells, but is prevented from undertaking that research, that they would not gain new spells.

    So in the end, it ALL comes down to interpretation.

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    I agree. So say the rules say "These spells represent the results of her research." Now, if the character had absolutely no time to "research" for spells since she gained her last level, would it be a house rule to prevent said character from gaining new spells? Or would it be an interpretation of the above sentence?
    A counterexample would be a character taking her first level in the Wizard class. A Wizard must have studied magic and learned how to use it for X time period; let's say six months of study is enough to be a level 1 Wizard. Now, let's have a hypothetical character who grew up on a farm (and never studied magic), went to Fighter College (and never studied magic), and then spent five years on campaign with the local baron's army (and never studied magic). During her lifetime, this hypothetical character gains one or more levels; for the most recent one, she wants to take a level of Wizard. However, since we earlier ruled that no one becomes a Wizard without six months of magic study, she can't, since she hasn't. That's a house rule; adding the requirement "must have spent six months studying magic" to take the Wizard class levels.

    This is similar to your example of spells learned on level up. By RAW, you gain those spells no matter what. Adding in the requirement for actual research time is a houserule; you're actually adding in a requirement. If you want a more fluffy reason why the Wizard is able to learn new spells despite not having spent research time in the last level, it may be that said Wizard HAD researched the spells previously and/or copied them into her spellbook, but simply didn't have the experience, knowledge, or power to actually cast it. It's similar to a math problem; you might have all of the knowledge necessary to do it, but you simply don't see how to arrive at a solution without doing others first.

    Another good example: "The form chosen must be that of an animal that the druid is familiar with." Now, is there anywhere in the rules book where it says how a druid become familiar with a particular type of animal? If so, show me where. If not, would you consider it a house rule if the DM required a particular Knowledge (Nature) check, or if the DM required that the druid PC had met the animal in game? Or would that be an interpretation?
    AFAIK, there's no where where it says how a druid becomes familiar with an animal. This also means that ANY mechanical method of determining familiarity is a houserule, albeit an extremely reasonable and common one.

    That really doesn't make sense though. If the DM interprets something to mean something, and then adds a rule to represent that, then that is house ruling? If so, then preventing a character from taking actions when they are suffering from the "dead" condition would be a house rule? Because, as has been pointed out, it doesn't specify that a character cannot take actions when they are dead. It mentions that a character's soul leave their body, but I don't recall reading any rules that state that a character must have a soul to act.
    Strictly speaking, yes, any mechanical method for making rulings or changing how conditions are defined ingame is a houseful. As has been pointed out, this leads to some pretty absurd things that can be done when playing strictly RAW. Dead people running around and drowning yourself in a bucket of water so that you don't die are 2 of these.

    Remember, just because it's a rule used everywhere, by pretty much everyone save the munchkins, doesn't necessarily mean it's not a houserule.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by NecroRebel View Post
    This is similar to your example of spells learned on level up. By RAW, you gain those spells no matter what.
    No, you don't. By the RAW, the spells you gain are the result of research. The RAW do not specify either that the Wizard automatically gains both nor that the Wizard may choose from the entire spell list. It simply specifies that the Wizard "chooses two spells" that are, apparently "the result of research."

    Strictly speaking, yes, any mechanical method for making rulings or changing how conditions are defined ingame is a houseful. As has been pointed out, this leads to some pretty absurd things that can be done when playing strictly RAW. Dead people running around and drowning yourself in a bucket of water so that you don't die are 2 of these.

    Remember, just because it's a rule used everywhere, by pretty much everyone save the munchkins, doesn't necessarily mean it's not a houserule.
    This so overbroadens the meaning of the word "houserule" as to make it useless. By your definition there is almost no such thing as a rule that isn't a house rule, because every statement in the reference material that isn't a direct, explicit, unambiguous imperative is open to interpretation.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Journey View Post
    This so overbroadens the meaning of the word "houserule" as to make it useless. By your definition there is almost no such thing as a rule that isn't a house rule, because every statement in the reference material that isn't a direct, explicit, unambiguous imperative is open to interpretation.
    Exactly. Every game plays with house rules because the rules don't cover everything. There are several rule sets that have different interpretations; you'll be hard pressed to find two game groups that play the exact same way. Thing is, houserules are not a bad thing. They are necessary to play pretty much any game.
    Last edited by Green Bean; 2007-09-05 at 07:57 PM.

  29. - Top - End - #29

    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax_Celestis View Post
    Frequently, I hear "this is a good class," "this is a bad class," "this is a mediocre class, but for X," and similar statements. I took a chance to delve a bit deeper and discover what exactly it is that makes a good class.

    Rule 1: I Have A Party Role
    In general, classes that have a determined role in the party (such as "frontliner", "arcanist", "healer", "party face", or "trapper") are better than those that do not, if only because their class features have a determined, progressing focus. In some cases, this is not a traditional party role. The Duskblade, for instance, is not a "frontliner", nor is he an "arcanist"--he fills the "gish" role.
    Gish isn't a party role. The ACTUAL party role filled by the Duskblade is a melee damage dealer (which is actually a very distinct role from that many other gishes take).

    Rule 2: I Can Do Something No One Else Can
    Classes that gain class features that no one else has access to--or easy access to--makes a good class. It doesn't necessarily make a strong class, but it does make a good one. Bards, for instance, have access to Bardic Music--there are few other ways of acquiring Bardic Music besides the Bard class. Bardic Music, while useful, is not known as the be-all-end-all of party buffing.
    That actually has nothing to do with how powerful a class is, but rather is a game design issue. The sorceror can't really do much of anything that the Wizard can't do (hell, the Wizard can even cast sponatneously with Spontaneous Divination, Alacritous Cogitation, and the like, should he actually care to.) He's still a very powerful class.

    Similarly, a Fighter gains a boatload of feats--and nothing else. This is a bad thing. Everyone gets feats, and the few that are Fighter-only are not all that terrific. Due to this, there's no real reason to be a fighter other than to acquire a number of feats--usually merely as a stepping stone towards something else.
    The Fighter can do things no one else can do... but that doesn't make him a good class, because the unique things he gets SUCK.

    In the same vein, the Wu Jen and the Sorceror--while strong classes--are not good classes.
    Ah, so it seems your intent of the article was unclear. We're not talking about how effective a class is. We're talking about a game design perspective.

    Nearly anything the Wu Jen or Sorceror can do, a Wizard can do just as well, if not better.
    If your basis for a class being a horrible idea is that the Cleric, Wizard, Druid, or Artificer can fill the same role, but better, then that philosophy is problematic in that those classes can pretty much do EVERYTHING better than everyone else.

    In fact, this is the fundamental problem with a widely-accepted sub-par class: the Warlock. While a good idea in premise, the Warlock is incapable of doing much--if anything--that the Wizard or Sorceror are not also capable of doing within the normal scope of their powers. The Warlock would be a far cry better--in fact, might even be a powerhouse akin to the Wizard--if it had its own unique powers, instead of mockeries of existing spells.
    And yet, people love the Warlock.

    Rule 5: I Have Room For Personalization
    Classes that look exactly like every other member of their class are generally bad classes. Good classes have the ability to personalize the class--even if merely through bonus feats. In this regard, a Fighter is a decent class: it is the ultimate in personalization (but see Rule 2 for why it's still a bad class). Spellcasters are also good classes since their spells known, prepared, carried on scrolls, et al. are different from one spellcaster to the next. No two Wizards will have the same spellbook; no two Sorcerors will know the same spells.

    On the other hand, the Paladin class--aside from its spellcasting--has no room to personalize the class. Every Paladin gains the same features, and as such presents a very one-sided "kind" of Paladin. Certainly, one can personalize through other means--race, feat selection, spell use, personality--but the class itself does not assist in that regard.
    MAD helps to emphasize personalization and different emphases between characters, while SAD encourages everyone to focus on the same thing. Again, you seem to be jumping back and forth on these things...

    Rule 6: I Have A Reason To Not Enter A Prestige Class
    Surprisingly, most classes are bad offenders of this--the spellcasting classes even more so than others. A good class rewards a player for staying within its bounds for his entire career; a bad one has no reason for a player to stay inside it.
    The problem with spellcasting classes isn't that they don't get rewarded for staying single class... it's that they decided to make PrCs that give ALL THE CASTER CLASS FEATURES PLUS MORE. That's not a fault of the base class design, it's a fault of the "I get +1 level of a class's ability type within limited parameters" thing we've got going for caster PrCs which is, quite frankly, utterly horrible in myriad ways from a design perspective.

    The Spellthief, again, is an example of a good class: without entering a prestige class, you gain access to the amazing Absorb Spell ability. Rogues, too, are a good example: after tenth level, they acquire a list of abilities that are difficult to acquire from other sources.
    I can get +15d6 sneak attack without taking levels in Rogue. Real difficult. *Rolleyes*

    Sorcerors are the worst offenders of this: they literally have no reason to stay within the class beyond their (mediocre) familiar.
    Again, that's no fault of the Sorceror class itself. The sorceror gains a **** load of class abilities, the PrCs just give ALL of those, PLUS MORE. That's a fault of PrCs that don't sacrifice caster levels.
    Last edited by OneWinged4ngel; 2007-09-05 at 08:38 PM.

  30. - Top - End - #30

    Default Re: Questions On 3.5, Article 1: "Why Is This A Bad Class?"

    Assuming that this article was supposed to be about designing classes well, I'd like to add a few points.

    Many people go about creating new classes all the time, but a lot of them aren't particularly good. Here, I'm going to examine a few of the elements of what I view to be good class design, and hopefully help a few people out (since they seem to keep asking me for help in this regard).

    Ultimately, this guide should help people to create fun and balanced classes, while avoiding common pitfalls.

    Is there a reason to create a new class?
    This is one that people miss out on a lot. I can't count the number of classes I've seen on these boards that actually served very little purpouse, because oftentimes the exact same concept could be managed by existing classes (and done with similar or sometimes better mechanical elegance).

    In order for a base class to be a solid new addition to the roster, it has to do at least one of two things:

    It must either
    A) Fill a new niche. For example, the Artificer fills the item creation and use niche as a class, where previously that was never the focus of any base class.
    or B) Be mechanically original. For example, while the Warblade fills the "Fighter" niche, it does so in a new and mechanically unique and elegant way.

    If it doesn't do either of these things, it may as well not exist.

    This post from Tempest Stormwind helps to illustrate my point:

    Spoiler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tempest Stormwind View Post
    I agree with this 100%.

    For me, a good base class has to fit two criteria: It must be mechanically original and it must fill a niche no other base class can do. I'm willing to be lax somewhat on one if the other's particularly strong, though. The society mind and blue mage do both of these quite nicely (summary of the two: The blue mage is the Final Fantasy archetype of learning enemy spells by experiencing them firsthand, and the society mind is a psionic support class that makes the team operate as if they were parts of a single greater being), while the gemini dancer doesn't fit the niche criterion at all and gets a ton of press as if it did. A lot of it looks like mechanics for the sake of mechanics, actually -- one of the major reasons I dislike Sztany's Ultimate series, in fact.

    (On an unrelated note, by the way, if it wasn't clear before, the society mind was published in Untapped Potential, meaning several DMs who require print sources may now peruse it at their leisure. Dreamscarred hasn't forgotten about it, either, and it will be used in later books.)

    Those two criteria can help you in designing other base classes. Step 1 is ALWAYS to ask yourself if your concept REALLY needs a new base class instead of just some imagination. From there, it's just a matter of mechanics.
    Spoiler
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    Untapped Potential's other base class, the Marksman, was designed as follows: We noted that there was no full-base-attack manifesting class, and when we looked at all the published full-base-attack classes, every one of them except the ranger (and even the ranger, to some extent) had a heavy, heavy melee focus. Thus, a ranged full-base-attack class would be mechanically original, and would be a good place to go. From there, we looked at places like archetypal "small-scale psionics" (i.e. Starcraft Ghosts, The Shadow) and archetypal ranged combatants (there's a very powerful ability there drawn from classic Western films, for instance), and came up with interesting ideas mechanically (such as the ability to develop a signature weapon style). Finally, we put it all together and pared it down until it looked reasonably balanced.
    Spoiler
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    Duskblade: Fills a niche no other single class can (fighter/mage, a popular niche; the psychic warrior comes close but feels completely different since it can't blast), sort of mechanically original (not so much, but what mechanics are there are solid). Conclusion: Good class.

    Warlock: Fills a niche no other class can (and that niche can vary somewhat depending on what you choose, but always having magic at your fingertips has a certain appeal), mechanically original (Self-evident!). On the plus side, it's dripping in unique flavor (which was enough to lure my brother, who NEVER plays anything *but* The Half Orc Barbarian, into trying something new). Conclusion: Good class.

    Samurai: Not mechanically original (all of its abilities are fighter bonus feats, essentially), fills no new niche (a Lawful fighter could do this). Conclusion: Bad class.

    Swashbuckler: Doesn't fill a new niche (warrior rogue, light fighter), not mechanically original at all. Conclusion: Bad class. But insightful strike's good, so it's worth considering as a dip.

    Beguiler: Doesn't fill a new niche (sneaky spellcaster; illusionist comes close), but executes it with mechanical elegance and brilliance. Conclusion: Good class. You'll note that this is the reverse of the duskblade (which fills the niche but isn't mechanically original), yet both are good because their better side is as good as it is.

    All of these work without introducing a new system either. If I wanted to, I could laud the Expanded Psionics Handbook, Pact Magic section of the Tome of Magic, the Totemist from Magic of Incarnum, and the Tome of Battle classes as "good" (they all fill various niches and do so with mechanical elegance) and the rest of the Tome of Magic and Magic of Incarnum as "poor" for similar reasons (MoI doesn't fill any new niche except for the totemist, Truenaming fails on so many mechanical levels, and shadow magic is weak on both fronts but shows promise).
    Are you seeing how to design a good class from this by now? I'd hope I'm being helpful.



    If we're including variants of existing base classes, then my money currently lies on (in no particular order) Seerow's Fighter*, OneWinged4ngel's Paladin, my own Marshal, BlaineTog's Soulknife, and RadicalTaoist's Ranger (even if the latter may need a bit of tweaking; it's getting intensive playtesting in our group now, right alongside Blaine's soulknife). All of these except the ranger are intended to "fix" an existing class, replacing it altogether (Seerow's fighter is the result of many, many long discussions of what the figher's lacking as a class, OW4's paladin is a reimagining from the ground up of what a PALADIN means, Blaine's soulknife fixes many weak mechanical flaws while giving the soulknife a niche of its own isntead of a bastard niche between stealth and tanking, and my marshal makes a dip class into something worth taking as a defining class). The ranger is meant as a variant that can be used in addition to normal rangers, trading mystical abilities for Tome of Battle maneuvers.

    Hope that helps.


    * I haven't yet read Otto's classes beyond a cursory skimming, but I like what I see there, particularly the hexblade.


    ^--It also covers my next point a bit.

    Mechanics for mechanics' sake is bad. Seriously. People add little +1s and -1s and tiny little details that don't actually affect the character much based on this and that, and bog it down (and actually can limit the versatility of the character concepts it can fill), when you actually don't need any new mechanics. Some good examples of "mechanics for mechanics sake" are actually some classes that have received high acclaim from some, but criticism from board veterans like myself and Tempest Stormwind, such as Szatany's classes and Frasmage's Gemini Dancer. This is largely because the presentation looks good, but the underlying mechanics are actually rather unnecessary.

    Basically, mechanics should have some meaning and significance. They should do something you care about, instead of bogging down the system.

    Dead levels suck.
    Make sure the player gets something new every level. The reason for this is simple and straightforward: No one wants to take a level where there is no benefit, and moreover dead levels are boring and just plain not fun. Even if it's something minor, you should at least put *something* to fill the void. Ideally, you should be giving a fairly even progression of cool class features.

    It is worth noting that gaining a level of spells or something is *NOT* a dead level, because a level of spells actually represents an array of new class features. In fact, it often represents a larger array of new class features at the new level than many other classes get. Don't confuse "class features" with "entries in the special column," because it's just not true. It's also worth noting that if you have a lot of abilities that scale by level, it can also be acceptable to have a few seemingly "dead" levels, since you're actually getting something nifty at those levels even if you don't see it right there in the special column. A bad dead level is one where you're basically the same guy as you were at the last level, except with a bit higher numbers.

    You should feel more powerful, more versatile, and generally cooler at every level. A player should not be doing just the same old thing, except with slightly higher numbers.

    Tempest helps to clarify, here:
    Spoiler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tempest Stormwind View Post
    I should add that if you have a lot of class abilities that scale by level, you can also get by with this.

    The classic "bad" dead level is Fighter 5. You play EXACTLY the same way you did as Fighter 4, except with slightly different numbers.

    This is, at its core, what the no-dead-level approach is meant to avoid. You don't need flashy new abilities at each level, but the character should feel more powerful, more versatile, or similar at every level. He should NOT feel "just like I was, but more so".

    (Note a quick comparison in general design philosophy with core melee and ToB characters, by the way -- core melee use the same tactics at level 20 that they do at level 1, more or less: charge, full attack. They have some new features (spells, rages, unique feats, etc) to make the delivery of these tactics possible, and to make the numbers bigger... but it's still the same tactics. Meanwhile, a warblade at level 20 plays significantly different from one at level 1, even if fundamentally they still involve move-in-and-attack. It's because they get options -- and they get them at every level, so it feels good to be a warblade every time you level up. Make your class something you'd want to feel proud to be.)


    Uneven progressions suck. There are two common sides of the coin here. There's toploading, and there's the "suck now, but own later" mentality. Both of these ideas generally suck. Toploading is bad because it means that most of your class's progression is actually useless (for instance, the Swashbuckler is often considered a 3-level long class. The other 17 levels are wasted). And "pay for it now for power later" and similar such uneven progressions *really* don't actually work that way in play. Sure, many PrCed up gish builds will be pretty lame at low level, and killer at higher level, but the reality is that most campaigns aren't actually played from levels 1-20. They'll be more like "5-12" or "1-14" or "12-18" or whatever. So that "evening out cost and benefit over levels" doesn't really exist. Making a class good at one level and crappy at another is a bad thing. Ideally, a class progression should be as even as possible and a class should contribute to the party in a level-appropriate way at *every* level. No more, no less. It doesn't actually have to be perfect... but it should be a fairly even progression of cool class features.

    I think this honorable Crane puts it fairly well here.
    Spoiler
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaidojiTaidoru View Post
    "Suck Now Rule Later" and it's reverse are poor points of game balance and design. Even assuming that all games run from levels 1 to 20 (wildly untrue), and that the characters remain the same throughout all 20 levels (often untrue) that still means that only half your players are having fun at any given point in your campaign, and the others are only hanging on in hopes they'll get a moment to shine at some point via DM intervention. Your players should enjoy every fight they meet and consider every challenge interesting, not singlehandedly win the first 3 fights of the day and stand around useless for fight number 4.


    Make the class for everyone who's going to use it, not just you. Basically, this follows a principle that when designing something for public consumption, you want to make it adaptable to everyone's needs. A class shouldn't look like "your specific character's build choices." It should be able to embody a variety of concepts. Writing extensive fluff on the history of some order and the exact way a certain character fights and so forth doesn't actually make for a better class in any way. We've all seen these classes that look like one guy's character, instead of a real base class that can be adapted to a variety of concepts.

    Keep it flexible in build. Building on the last point, a class should provide many "viable" build options, allowing it to embody a variety of concepts. With a look at the Wizard, we can see that you can make a tricky illusionist, a war wizard that makes buildings explode, a calculating seer, or a thousand other concepts. Where possible, you shouldn't be restricting the sort of concepts you can use with the class.

    Give it options in play. Using the same tactic over and over is boring. If you're a trip fighter with that one trick (trip, trip, trip) then your gameplay is going to become more monotonous. By contrast, the Warblade introduces more versatility and options into every battle.

    This is notably distinct from versatility in build. Versatility in build refers to the ability of a Fighter to be built in many different ways, but versatility in play refers to have many options of actions available to you during play.

    Plot writing abilities SUCK. Just don't do it. This is a no-no. When I say "plot writing" abilities, I mean stuff like the HORRIBLE Thunder Guide class in the Explorer's Handbook where you get abilities like "Serial Hero: At 8th level, famed Korranberg Chronicle reporter Kole Naerrin writes a serialized account of your adventures appearing over the course of thirteen weeks. You earn 1000 gp per point of your charisma bonus for the rights to your story (minimum 1000gp)." Seriously, WTF? "A guy writes a book about you" isn't a class ability. A class ability is supposed to be some ability that your character has, not something that happens in the plot.

    This PrC from the Dungeonomicon parodies the plot-writing abilities and "The class is actually just my specific character put into a progression" problems that we see *alarmingly* often, which is just stupid.

    Spoiler
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    Quote Originally Posted by K/Frank's Dungeonomicon
    Elothar Warrior of Bladereach
    "My name is Elothar. Your name is unimportant, for you shall soon be dead."

    The city of Bladereach sits at the mouth of the Typhon River that flows from the Bane Mires into Ferrin's Bay. The elves of Celentian's caravan come every year to trade with the largely human inhabitants of Bladereach and sometimes they leave more than the wares of the Black Orchard Hills when they leave. The results of these dalliances find that they never fit in amongst the people of Bladereach, and are taught the hard secrets of battle that the children of Bladereach have to offer. Often, these half-elven warriors turn to adventuring.

    Prerequisites:
    Skills: 9 ranks in Use Rope
    Race: Half-elf.
    Region: Must be from Bladereach.
    Special: Name must be Elothar.

    Hit Die: d8
    Class Skills: The Elothar Warrior of Bladereach's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (all skills taken individually) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Search (Int), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), and Use Rope (Dex).
    Skills/Level: 4 + Intelligence Bonus
    BAB: Good (1/1), Saves: Fort: Poor; Reflex: Poor; Will: Good

    Level, Benefit
    1 Way of Two Swords
    2 Tommy, Legacy of the Water Stone
    3 Magic Swords, Immunity to Petrification
    4 I've got that!
    5 Double Riposte, Fistful of Rubies
    6 Der'renya the Ruby Sorceress
    7 Ways and Paths
    8 Name of the First Eagle
    9 Blessing of the Gnome King
    10 Flying Ship, Your Money is No Good Here
    11 Demesne of Tralathon
    12 Mark of Ruin
    13 Sword of Kas, Dwarf Friend
    14 Happily Ever After, Khadrimarh

    All of the following are Class Features of the Elothar Warrior of Bladereach class:
    Weapon and Armor Proficiency: An Elothar Warrior of Bladereach gains proficiency with the Nerra Shard Sword, the Kaorti Ribbon Dagger, and the Shuriken.

    Way of Two Swords (Ex): With a single standard action, an Elothar Warrior of Bladreach may attack with a one-handed or light weapon in each hand at no penalties to-hit or damage for the weapon in his primary or off-hand.

    Tommy: At 2nd level, an Elothar Warrior of Bladereach is joined in his adventures by Tommy, a 5th level Halfling Rogue from Figmountain. Tommy is a loyal cohort and gains levels when the Elothar Warrior of Bladereach does. Other Halflings will be impressed by Tommy's apparent loyalty and the Elothar Warrior of Bladereach gains a +3 bonus to his Diplomacy checks when dealing with Halflings if Tommy is present.

    Legacy of the Water Stone (Sp): An Elothar Warrior of Bladereach of 2nd level has touched the fabled Water Stone, and gleaned a portion of its powers thereby. He may cast create water as a spell-like ability at will. The caster level for this ability is 5.

    Magic Swords (Su): Any sword a 3rd level Elothar Warrior of Bladereach holds has an enhancement bonus equal to 1/3 of his character level (round down, no maximum). The enhancement bonus fades one round after the Elothar Warrior of Bladereach stops touching the weapons.

    Immunity to Petrification (Ex): At 3rd level, an Elothar Warrior of Bladereach cannot be petrified.

    I've Got That! (Sp): At 4th level, an Elothar Warrior of Bladereach can mimic the effects of a drawmij's instant summons at will. The Elothar Warrior of Bladereach does not need an arcane mark on the item, nor does he need a sapphire to call the item in question.

    Double Riposte (Ex): If an opponent provokes an attack of opportunity from a 5th level Elothar Warrior of Bladereach, the Elothar Warrior of Bladereach may attack with a weapon in each hand at no penalty. This is considered a single attack of opportunity for purposes of how many attacks of opportunity the Elothar Warrior of Bladereach is allowed in a turn.

    Fistful of Rubies: At 5th level, an Elothar Warrior of Bladereach finds 10,000 gp worth of rubies.

    Der'renya the Ruby Sorceress: At 6th level, an Elothar Warrior of Bladereach is joined in his travels by Der'renya the Ruby Sorceress, a beautiful Drow magician. She is a Wizard 6/ Seeker of the Lost Wizard Traditions 4, and gains levels when he does. Other dark elves will be angered by Der'renya's betrayal, and will be if anything even less friendly with the Elothar Warrior of Bladereach if encountered with her.

    Ways and Paths (Su): At 7th level, an Elothar Warrior of Bladereach can make his way back to any plane he's ever been to. By wandering around in the wilderness for three days, he can make a Survival check (DC 25) to shift himself and anyone traveling with him to another plane.

    Name of the First Eagle (Sp): At 8th level, an Elothar Warrior of Bladereach can speak the name of the first eagle, which summons a powerful giant eagle that has the attributes of a Roc (though it is only large sized). The eagle appears for one hour, and may be summoned once per day.

    Blessing of the Gnome King (Su): At 9th level, an Elothar Warrior of Bladereach has pleased the king of the Gnomes so thoroughly that he is granted a portion of the gnomish power. The Elothar Warrior of Bladereach can speak with burrowing animals and sees through illusions as if he had true seeing cast upon him by a 20th level Sorcerer.

    Flying Ship: At 10th level, an Elothar Warrior of Bladereach finds a Flying Ship from the Eberron setting. And can pilot it around.

    Your Money is no Good Here: An Elothar Warrior of Bladereach of 10th level gets free drinks and food at The Wandering Eye, a tavern in Sigil.

    Demesne of Tralathon: At 11th level, an Elothar Warrior of Bladereach gains sole control of Tralathon, a small demiplane that appears to be an abandoned Githyanki outpost. Tralathon has several one-way portals that exit onto places on the Astral Plane, the Prime Material, and Limbo. The Elothar Warrior of Bladereach may planeshift to Tralathon at will as a spell-like ability.

    Mark of Ruin (Su): At 12th level, an Elothar Warrior of Bladereach is permanently marked with the Mark of Ruin, which causes all of his melee attacks to ignore hardness and damage reduction.

    Sword of Kas: An Elothar Warrior of Bladereach finds the Sword of Kas at level 13.

    Dwarf Friend (Ex): The deeds of an Elothar Warrior of Bladereach are well remembered by Dwarves when he reaches level 13. Dwarves he encounters are treated as Friendly.

    Happily Ever After: At 14th level, an Elothar Warrior of Bladereach becomes king of Bladereach with Der'renya as his queen. The castle of Halan Shador, that used to belong to the Lichking Hadrach is his to rule from.

    Khadrimarh: A 14th level, an Elothar Warrior of Bladereach has a young adult white dragon named Khadrimarh as a pet.
    • Elothar Warriors of Bladereach in your campaign: You may want to adapt this prestige class to the specifics of your campaign. In other campaign worlds, the race, region, and name requirements of this class may need to be changed to fit with the overall narrative.


    MAD isn't a bad thing.
    Now, before you say "What? zomgwtf? MAD makes you weaker!" Well, yes, it does. However, SAD is actually a problem, while MAD is probably a good thing. Allowing a person to excel in different ways by excelling in different stats increases his customizability and versatility in build, which is a good thing. A world where everyone invests in and only cares about the same stat is *not* such a good thing. This goes back to the "make the class versatile in build" point.

    Allowing for decent multiclassing is a good thing, too.
    You know what's annoying about a lot of full spellcasters? They kinda just feel cheated when you multiclass 'em most of the time. This isn't fun... it impedes on the "make it versatile in build" principle. By contrast, we see a more elegant multiclassing mechanic in Tome of Battle classes, where your maneuvering abilities don't just become completely obsolete if you decide to take a few levels at level 7 or 8 (As opposed to getting magic missile at level 9 with a caster level of 1).

    Thankfully, they've got a few PrCs and a feat or two (like Practiced Spellcaster) to mitigate the multiclassing issue of some classes, but it would be better if they didn't have to. However, this is a fairly advanced concern, and people aren't going to mind *terribly* if it doesn't multiclass well, just because multiclassing generally sucks across most of the board in D&D.

    This quote from Tempest helps to clarify this point a bit.
    Spoiler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tempest Stormwind View Post
    Just a minor clarification, then: A class should multiclass well, and reward players who stick with them all the way (note: capstones alone aren't the way to do this, though they do sweeten the deal a bit). The trick is to balance these two competing forces and do it well.

    The best example I can think of currently is the warblade. It has simple build elegance in the single class, progressing given abilities, granting new ones, and having no dead levels (every level past 4 has either a maneuver swap or a new maneuver, plus the new Battle X abilities), and a capstone to sweeten level 20. However, it also gains a fair bit from multiclassing, both INTO and OUT OF warblade, due to the interesting way ToB multiclassing works. A non-warblade considering to multiclass has a more compelling reason every level to consider a warblade level. A high-level warblade doesn't lose out too much by taking other classes, especially if all he needs to get more or less "back on track" is simply take a warblade level later on. The pull to multiclass is almost exactly countered by what the class provides.

    (Add to this that warblades are diverse in their builds, diverse in their play, capable in their niche, and FUN, *while* being relatively simple, and you get a spectacular class in general, but I wanted to highlight the multi/singleclass balance present.)


    Choose a paradigm for balance. This is to say, don't just shoot in the dark, then post on the boards saying "is this balanced?" Decide, from the beginning, what you consider to be your standard for balance. Many people will recommend the Rogue or Psychic Warrior as a "middle-of-the-road" point for balance. Frank uses the single-classed transmuter Wizard. It's ultimately up to you. But the point is... know what power level you're shooting for and go for that.

    Keep your conceptual goals in mind. You want to know where you're headed. You find a new niche to fill, or you think of a mechanically original way to handle something. From there, keep that goal in mind, and work towards realizing the concept of the class, and moreover keep in mind *how it will work in play.* Synergy matters. If you're making a paladin, don't just throw in a bunch of holy warrior-y abilities for 20 levels... think of the cohesive whole and how the whole thing works together to create an even class progression that fills a useful and fun role.

    Capstones are cool abilities, but don't really change the class's playstyle. Basically, a capstone should be something and cool and shiny that says "congrats, you just hit 20th level." However, it should *not* be something that significantly alters the style of play, such as, say, a Duskblade's Arcane Channelling, which is a "meat of the class" ability. You want to get those sort of abilities when you can use them for more than 1 level. Instead, a capstone is something like "you turn into an outsider type," which is cool and all, but doesn't really revolutionize the way the class is played.

    Mind the CR system. You want your base class to be balanced, so measure it up against encounters of the appropriate level (including monsters, other characters, encounter traps, and non-combat obstacles and encounters). Look up the CR system, and know what it's supposed to mean. If a character cannot contribute in a way appropriate to his or her level against encounters appropriate for their level, or if they can completely floor all of those encounters, you don't have something balanced on your hands. What you DO NOT want to do is just eyeball it and say "Hey, that looks balanced." Examine it. Scrutinize it. Make comparisons. Playtest it. Get other people to playtest it if possible, so that you can get away from your own biased opinion.

    Balance your options. That is to say, each build option should be good in its own way, with no clear "best" or "worst" choice. When you can feel the indecision, that's balance, right there. Pretty straightforward, but worth mentioning. You don't want "Cat's Grace vs. Bite of the Wererat." You want "Invisibility vs. Silence."

    Present your class clearly. The last thing is that you want your class write-up to look nice. This doesn't actually have so much to do with class design itself, but it's an important point when designing classes. You want some flavorful stuff to entice the reader to pay attention, like a quote from a character of the class or a picture. You want to have a clear table, clear ability entries, and something that's legible instead of all just kinda blending together in a great blob of text. You might even want to link up your spell list table to stuff in the SRD or something. Whatever. The most important part of this is making the rules clean and concise, to avoid misinterpretations and generally make everything go down smooth. A badly explained ability entry has led to more than one long, heated, pointless argument on these boards. Don't make it happen to your class.
    Last edited by OneWinged4ngel; 2007-09-05 at 08:49 PM.

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