A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Kobold

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    Default Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    Here's a weird batch of classes. The auramancers. They gots auras. They ain't all that great. Go nuts.

    Divine Mind (CPsi, 9): While ostensibly psionic in nature, the divine mind really doesn't have that much in the way of psionics to speak of. It does have some mediocre psychic auras though.

    Dragon Shaman (PHB II, 11): Like the dragonfire adept, this class is dragon themed. Unlike the dragonfire adept, this class is... less good. Also unlike the dragonfire adept, this class has auras and such.

    Marshal (MiniHB, 11): This one is kinda the skill monkey of the group, with auras a bit oriented around that goal. Has a couple of cool abilities too, but, y'know, not that cool.

    What are the tiers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Threads

    Tier System Home Base

    The Icarnum Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    The Expanded Psionics: Psion, Psychic Warrior, Soulknife, Wilder

    Completing the Psionics: Ardent, Erudite, Lurk, Psychic Rogue


    The Rankings


    Divine Mind: Tier 5

    Dragon Shaman: Tier 5

    Marshal: Tier 5
    Last edited by heavyfuel; 2018-10-01 at 09:24 AM.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    Yeah, these classes are all pretty bad. "Grant Move Action" is not exactly an inspiring ability for a character to get. I would probably say Dragon Shaman > Divine Mind > Marshal, though I'm not sure any of those gaps are big enough to put any of the classes even into Tier Four. Maybe the Dragon Shaman. It does get some utility, even if that utility is pretty anemic.

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    DruidGirl

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    Not really sure this is necessary, to be honest. As I noted awhile back, while the number of ratings the original aura classes got wasn't huge, it wasn't the lowest either.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    Divine Mind takes 8 hours to switch the effect of its 5 ft. radius aura. The aura becomes faster to swap later, and slowly grows to a respectable range, but none of these happen fast enough to make it worth using. It might be T6 for a lot of its levels, only becoming T5 later.

    Dragon Shaman got some weird late support in feats like Dragonmark Aura and Breath of Siberys. Probably not enough to become T4 but I suspect it's higher T5 than the other two.

    Marshal is a 1 or 2 level dip, much like Fighter. I've never seen one played as a base class. T5 seems reasonable.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    Dragon Shaman and Marshal are odd because their value varies so much by party size and composition.

    For solo play, their self-auras barely let them keep up with Warrior's superior BAB in combat, although they both have much better utility - healing and diplomacy respectively.

    In contrast, in a party of 10 Warblades, I'd rather have a Dragon Shaman and a Marshal than 2 more Warblades; the initiative boost alone is worth including them, granting 4+ move actions is actually worth the standard action, etc.

    Divine Mind is different because at low levels the aura's too small and at high levels all the interesting mantle aura options have shown their lack of scaling. However, at high levels it also gets a handful of 4th+ level powers, so it leans less on the auras.
    Last edited by Bucky; 2018-09-25 at 12:13 PM.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    Marshal is certainly tier 5. The most "powerful" thing it can do is exploit Diplomacy. Most of its auras are fairly useless. A 2 level dip lets you get everything you could want of the class.
    But it does technically have class abilities.

    Divine mind is arguably high tier 6 until level 5 when it finally starts getting powers. Still, it competes pretty hard for worst psionics class. I'd err toward tier 5, however. On the low end, perhaps, but it essentially sits between warrior and a standard paladin.

    Dragon Shaman. Ah, I love this class, even if it sucks. Their auras are probably the most useful at low levels, especially with options like fast healing. I'd argue they stay handy as you level, but aren't enough to stay competitive. Their breath weapon is decent, but beaten out by DFA's ability to manipulate it. So, despite what I like, their weird restrictions and basically being handed worse versions of other class's abilities, theyre a definite Tier 5
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    They are all dip classes at best. If we assume all must stick to their own list of auras, I think the Marshal comes out ahead - but only just. Its flexibility in builds to buff niche skills without much investment, to double up on charisma, to aid crit-fishers and flankers and to - if nothing else - boost initiative, does not quite make it T4 but I could see someone making the case.

    He only does one thing well, but what that one thing is is more varied than with most classes.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    I'll make the case for Marshal playing uptier. The marshal's main niche is as a support, so let's see what he can do with one other character. And since everyone's saying "dip class", let's do the evaluation at level 8.

    Marshal+Expert adds up to a quality skillmonkey. The expert gets his own stuff, the Marshal's CHA (probably +4) to 4/6 attributes' worth of skills, and offloads some skill points to the Marshall. If they need further bonuses, they can cheaply UMD-summon some helpers from a wand, who with the Marshal's aura have a good chance of Aid Another untrained.

    Marshal+Warrior gives a competent beatstick. The Warrior effectively has pounce 2/day from Grant Move Action, a stance that grants +2/+4 on non-pounce charges, another stance with +10' move-speed, yet another stance that gives +2/+4 while flanking (and he has a flank-buddy readily available), and doubly-Improved Initiative (aura plus his own feat). Oh, and the Marshal's also contributing at above-baseline-Warrior level since he has most of the same stuff.

    Marshal+Commoner? Then they need to rely on the aforementioned UMD summoning/Aid Another trick a lot more. But thanks to Motivate Charisma, the level 8 Commoner can at least reliably activate the wand.

    Up to this point, the Marshal needs to specialize somewhat to whoever they're supporting. They can't necessarily boost the entire party. But that problem goes away with levels. By level 15 or so, the Marshal should be able to boost all the niches.
    Last edited by Bucky; 2018-09-25 at 01:08 PM.
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    Nifft's Avatar

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bucky View Post
    Marshal+Commoner? Then they need to rely on the aforementioned UMD summoning/Aid Another trick a lot more. But thanks to Motivate Charisma, the level 8 Commoner can at least reliably activate the wand.
    Can you show the math on this?

    It seems to me the level 8 Commoner has no particular UMD advantage over anyone else cross-classing UMD.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Based on the discussion here, I'll vote T5 on the lot of them.
    I stand by my earlier statement, 5 / 5 / 5.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    I also think the Marshal makes it to T4. I suspect a lot of people have a picture in their head of the Marshal as a dip class and forget that the single-class Marshal actually has lots of different auras and can pretty much switch freely between them. You're adding your Charisma bonus to every skill check for everyone in the party, and giving it as a bonus to most melee damage in combat, on top of the bonus from the major aura. That's some pretty decent breadth right there.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    Having given it some thought, I feel that the Marshal personifies the biggest problem with the tier system: It only represents how good you are at solving problems ON YOUR OWN. In any gameplay scenario, this is so unlikely to be the case it's laughable. As a contributor, however, Marshal could be T4 or even sneak into T3s bottom.
    Last edited by weckar; 2018-09-25 at 01:21 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    Quote Originally Posted by weckar View Post
    Having given it some thought, I feel that the Marshal personifies the biggest problem with the tier system: It only represents how good you are at solving problems ON YOUR OWN.
    That's not at all the case. Rankings should absolutely be considered in the context of an adventuring party. To imagine that team buff effects would simply be ignored is ludicrous IMO.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    The descriptions at thetop of the thread are about how good a class it at solving categories of problems. On his own, the Msrshal just does not qualify. He makes it a lot easier for others to do well, though.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    It seems to me the level 8 Commoner has no particular UMD advantage over anyone else cross-classing UMD.
    That's the point. But I made a mistake: Spellcraft apparently doesn't give a synergy bonus for activating wands.

    New math: 1 (die) +3 CHA +6 (Ranks) +3 Skill Focus +4 (Aura) = 17

    By the same math, a level 10 Marshal can operate his own summoning wands.
    Last edited by Bucky; 2018-09-25 at 01:31 PM.
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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    Every party should want a Dragon Shaman in the mix. They have an "incinerate mosquitos" aura.

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    DruidGirl

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    Quote Originally Posted by weckar View Post
    The descriptions at thetop of the thread are about how good a class it at solving categories of problems. On his own, the Msrshal just does not qualify. He makes it a lot easier for others to do well, though.
    That may be an issue with the definitions as I constructed them, to be honest. When I say, "Very good at solving a problem," as opposed to, "Alright at solving a problem," what I mean is that the class in question contributes some quantity of solution juice to the problem in question. Like, we can imagine a druid being very good at solving some specific combat problem, and that might mean they can take out the entire thing on their own. They get 100% on that problem. A rogue might be just alright at solving that combat problem, so maybe they can only take out 50% of it. So, that could mean they die half the time they have that encounter, or it could mean that the rogue needs another 50% class to win.

    I think this gives us a decently comprehensive metric for how to judge problem solving ability in a party. We can imagine some party in a combat encounter, and they're only at 75% against it. Thus, in order to win, the party needs another 25%'er. In this context, it seems clear to me that a marshal and a fighter can be considered identical in function (if not necessarily in capacity). It doesn't matter whether you get that extra 25% by improving others or by having a big stick. It only matters how the party's percentage against that monster is impacted.

    To be clear, while the actual tier definitions aren't perfectly straightforward about this, I think this information is conveyed in the "What are the tiers?" section. The marshal, after all, does contribute to the defeat of challenges. Ultimately though, whether the tier definitions are clear on this point or not, I don't think it substantially changes how you should tier. The question we're dealing with is whether a class is better than another class. Does group buffing make a class better than one that cannot do that? Yes. So, it applies.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    I think I had Divine Mind higher in the last thread too. It does eventually pick up some decent manifesting, but mainly the Mind's Eye variant is a major power boost.

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    NecromancerGirl

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, and Marshal (re-done)

    The thing about the Divine Mind is that it can function a lot like a barbarian at low levels, that also boosts allies a tad

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