A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1441
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    There's one other aspect, which was the case in Starfinder but I'm not sure if it's in PF2 - the NPCs are better than you, in a way that makes the PCs seem like losers.

    If you really focus on a skill, max the stat, get feats to boost it, get the best equipment for your level ... then you can be the equal of same-level NPCs. Who aren't using equipment.
    Oof, yeah. We're playing an adventure path and it's getting very frustrating for some players. In ship combat, I'm usually happy enough running engineering and repairing shields, boosting power, etc. One of the other guys does pilot and is having a very unsatisfactory time. Because all of my skill checks are static (beat a 25? Easy!) and all of his are contested against the NPC pilots and, despite having basically max bonuses in piloting, it's still a coin toss every round if his maneuvers will be effective. So it never feels like he's some heroic space ace in any way because everyone else is just as good, relegating him to the role of common schmuck.

    Quote Originally Posted by HidesHisEyes View Post
    - When people ask for advice on running a 5E game about WW2, or thatís like Star Trek, or is about modern day superheroes, etc, and when I suggest in good faith and earnestly that they check out a game thatís designed for that they become outraged that I would dare to suggest such a thing and act like I was criticising D&D.
    I would suggest that, if you don't have any good tips for converting 5e to a WW2 scenario, you just don't answer the question. The person is asking for tips about that, not about other systems and most people are aware that other games exist. They just have their own reasons for wanting to do what they're doing and receive assistance with that, not be told that they're wrong for wanting to do that. If no one answers their requests for help, maybe it'll sink in that they're doing something that doesn't work well. If you DO have something to add to what they asked, you can try to slide something else in, like "Assuming you're against trying a new system (WW2RPG is great for beginners), I'd start by going through the ranger's options and..." Spoonful of honey and all that.

    No one wants to ask for laptop suggestions and be told "Just buy a desktop" or side-by-side refrigerator suggestions and be told to just get a top/bottom, etc. Going into it (however good intentioned) by implying their question is dumb and bad and you're going to reframe it for them is always going to put people off. And possibly, as noted in this thread, make people view other RPGs with a sour taste as well.

  2. - Top - End - #1442
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    Here's one:

    The Battlemaster Fighter is the best pure martial artist in 5th edition D&D. Their maneuvers represent developing a unique combat style, whereas others have a relatively pedestrian and predictable style, with each member of the class being relatively the same; sure, other fighters might take two-handed or two-weapon or whatever, but they're still fighting much the same as anyone else with that style. Monks may have their own styles, but within a subclass, everyone is more or less the same, except for fluff.

    The Martial Adept feat is like the guy who got a green belt in taekwondo.
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  3. - Top - End - #1443
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    So you have the case where a "well-built" character doesn't get any gear (or doesn't get any benefit from it), because they were better at choosing "the right" choices? That seems punitive.
    That's like saying it's "punitive" that a character who was built to be able to effectively use fire magic or a spear in most situations doesn't get a chance to use ice magic or a sword. If the character someone wants to build is one that relies on class abilities rather than items, let them do that. Conversely, if someone finds the Sword of Kas or Excalibur or whatever cool magic sword and wants that to be a defining part of their character, let them do that.

    Instead, make the bonuses not matter as much. Make them purely bonuses--great little things if you have them, but not a big deal if you don't. Or, my favorite option DON'T INCLUDE PURE NUMBER BONUSES AS MISSABLE OPTIONS.
    But neither of those actually solve the problem. If you have the choice to have a class bonus and an item bonus, that will always be better than having only one of those bonuses, even if the bonuses are small or non-numeric. Having Boots of Flight from a dragon's hoard and gaining Acrobatic Tumble from your Swashbuckler levels is better than having one but not the other. And getting both of those things plus the benefits of the Rite of the Peak that the grateful dwarven clans did on your behalf is better still.

    Now, it is certainly possible that by limiting the impact of the bonuses people get, you can reduce the imbalance between a character who has accumulated a half-dozen adventures worth of extra bonuses and one who has not to a point you are personally happy with. I can't argue with that, and I even broadly agree that "magic items should largely not be an assumed part of balance targets" and "items should generally not give numeric bonuses" are good design principles. But neither of them resolve the issue at hand.

    all provide non-numerical (and thus inherently rivalrous) enhancements or options.
    Can you explain how you're using "non-numerical" and "rivalrous", because as I understand those terms this is absolutely not the case. Consider, for example, two bonuses that I would consider to be non-numeric: the ability to fly and the (3e) Rogue's evasion. Neither one is any kind of numeric bonus, except by very stretched definitions like "your flight speed is now larger than 0 instead of 0" or "evasion reduces the amount of damage you take", but they are absolutely non-rivalrous. You can easily imagine a situation such as fighting a dragon where you benefit from flight and evasion in the exact same round.

    You could make an argument against passive bonuses on this basis, but frankly demanding that ever item the players get gives them a new active option sounds like an absolute nightmare for decision making. I do not want to have to look through my class options and my racial activated ability and the activated ability of my boots and the activated ability of my bow and the activated ability of my cloak and the activated ability of my bracers and all the non-class options like "trip" or "disarm" that exist in the system. And even this doesn't truly guarantee that benefits are rivalrous, as it's easy to imagine how an optimizing party could ensure that items were allocated so that as few players as possible ended up with items that were used in similar circumstances (e.g. give the Fighter the combat-focused boots and the exploration-focused cloak, give the Wizard the exploration-focused boots and the combat-focused cloak). It seems far easier to simply limit the number of benefits people are allowed to have.

    And you'd go through them every few levels. It made getting new gear just "the thing that has to happen so my numbers work" instead of "ooh, cool reward".
    This much is absolutely true, and while I disagree with you about some things, it is 100% correct that you should not be getting a series of progressively plussier swords. Not only is that not fun to do in play, it's an absolutely failure of genre emulation. There is no fantasy story in the world where the protagonist trades in his sword for a slightly sharper sword every few adventures. People in fantasy upgrade their weapons when they find a new weapon that is very awesome, not merely slightly more powerful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jophiel View Post
    So it never feels like he's some heroic space ace in any way because everyone else is just as good, relegating him to the role of common schmuck.
    One of the hardest parts of DMing in general is managing to allow people to feel like their characters are becoming more powerful without having them run roughshod over the game. I think a lot of designers and DMs err too far on the side of making characters weak. In particular, the logistics of fighting large groups of enemies mean that encounters often scale up in a way that feels like a treadmill rather than out in a way that can allow people to feel powerful while still being challenged.

  4. - Top - End - #1444
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Here's one:

    The Battlemaster Fighter is the best pure martial artist in 5th edition D&D. Their maneuvers represent developing a unique combat style, whereas others have a relatively pedestrian and predictable style, with each member of the class being relatively the same; sure, other fighters might take two-handed or two-weapon or whatever, but they're still fighting much the same as anyone else with that style. Monks may have their own styles, but within a subclass, everyone is more or less the same, except for fluff.

    The Martial Adept feat is like the guy who got a green belt in taekwondo.
    Honestly Battlemaster is the only fighter I ever really play in 5e, and a lot of my frontliners regardless of class take a dip into battlemaster at some point. The feat that makes you an amateur battlemaster whose name I forget is honestly really weak in comparison to a real battlemaster, and getting your feat choices right is a lot more important in 5e just from their scarcity. A friend asked how he should handle multiclassing his assassin into fighter, and I just spent like ten minutes explaining all the different ways he could use the maneuvers to set himself up for sneak attack. It's actually wild to me that the combat maneuvers aren't a core class feature instead of a disproportionately complex and detailed subclass, it feels like the other subclasses (except for eldritch knight cuz spellcasting) just...do so little in comparison.
    Last edited by Milodiah; 2021-12-04 at 12:18 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Honest Tiefling View Post
    Do not try a linear campaign, without some discussion with them. Players very often look at your hooks and then try to accomplish it in a different way, not touch it, try to do the complete opposite, or somehow set it on fire.

  5. - Top - End - #1445
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    The Battlemaster Fighter is the best pure martial artist in 5th edition D&D. Their maneuvers represent developing a unique combat style, whereas others have a relatively pedestrian and predictable style, with each member of the class being relatively the same;
    Yup. It's exactly because they're basically the 5e version of the 4e martial that they're so awesome. 4e made martials awesome, and Mike Mearls took most of that away in 4e Essentials, which was his test bed for 5e.

  6. - Top - End - #1446
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milodiah View Post
    Honestly Battlemaster is the only fighter I ever really play in 5e, and a lot of my frontliners regardless of class take a dip into battlemaster at some point. The feat that makes you an amateur battlemaster whose name I forget is honestly really weak in comparison to a real battlemaster, and getting your feat choices right is a lot more important in 5e just from their scarcity. A friend asked how he should handle multiclassing his assassin into fighter, and I just spent like ten minutes explaining all the different ways he could use the maneuvers to set himself up for sneak attack. It's actually wild to me that the combat maneuvers aren't a core class feature instead of a disproportionately complex and detailed subclass, it feels like the other subclasses (except for eldritch knight cuz spellcasting) just...do so little in comparison.
    This goes back to something I wish I could see more of in 5e... subclasses that are essentially multiclasses.

    For example, we have the Eldritch Knight, who combines fighting and arcane spellcasting; I think there is a wizard version, as well. However, we don't have the Divine Knight, who uses clerical magic in the same way. Or the Nature Knight (which is a horrible name) which uses Druid Magic. Or the Blooded Knight, who is a part sorcerer. Or the Pact Knight, who is a semi-warlock.

    Like the Eldritch Knight, having one of these would not be a 100% fix for not having a member of that class. Maybe the Divine Knight gets a domain (at -3 levels), but can only cast those spells. Or the Pact Knight gets only a few invocations and no spells... something that makes them kind of like the class, but not really.
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  7. - Top - End - #1447
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    This goes back to something I wish I could see more of in 5e... subclasses that are essentially multiclasses.

    For example, we have the Eldritch Knight, who combines fighting and arcane spellcasting; I think there is a wizard version, as well. However, we don't have the Divine Knight, who uses clerical magic in the same way. Or the Nature Knight (which is a horrible name) which uses Druid Magic. Or the Blooded Knight, who is a part sorcerer. Or the Pact Knight, who is a semi-warlock.

    Like the Eldritch Knight, having one of these would not be a 100% fix for not having a member of that class. Maybe the Divine Knight gets a domain (at -3 levels), but can only cast those spells. Or the Pact Knight gets only a few invocations and no spells... something that makes them kind of like the class, but not really.
    I'd love to see someone experiment with a create-your-own-class class and level system, my buddy is trying something similar by having multiple trees down which each of the core classes can progress (clerics can be combat oriented warpriests, socially talented evangelists, learned scholars, or any mixture of the three based on their choices), but what I find really interesting is that his idea of multiclassing is basically lopping off one of those three branches and grafting one of the branches of another class in its place. Your combat-focused, but also sociable cleric could give up the scholarly portion and take in its place the scout branch out of barbarian, so that now he's a deep-woods wilderness preacher who can live off the land while he protects his flock, or your hard-charging noble cavalryman can have a crisis of faith and turn away from the social aspects granted by the cavalier branch and start dabbling in the dark arts with his third tree via one of the branches of the dark arcanist class.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing how it goes.
    Last edited by Milodiah; 2021-12-04 at 04:16 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Honest Tiefling View Post
    Do not try a linear campaign, without some discussion with them. Players very often look at your hooks and then try to accomplish it in a different way, not touch it, try to do the complete opposite, or somehow set it on fire.

  8. - Top - End - #1448
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milodiah View Post
    I'd love to see someone experiment with a create-your-own-class class and level system, my buddy is trying something similar by having multiple trees down which each of the core classes can progress (clerics can be combat oriented warpriests, socially talented evangelists, learned scholars, or any mixture of the three based on their choices), but what I find really interesting is that his idea of multiclassing is basically lopping off one of those three branches and grafting one of the branches of another class in its place. Your combat-focused, but also sociable cleric could give up the scholarly portion and take in its place the scout branch out of barbarian, so that now he's a deep-woods wilderness preacher who can live off the land while he protects his flock, or your hard-charging noble cavalryman can have a crisis of faith and turn away from the social aspects granted by the cavalier branch and start dabbling in the dark arts with his third tree via one of the branches of the dark arcanist class.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing how it goes.
    Reminds me of the fantasy heartbreaker Legend RPG that was born on this very forum, many years ago.
    Last edited by The Glyphstone; 2021-12-04 at 08:11 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel, on quest rewards View Post
    "Is a stack of ten pancakes too many pancakes to give to the party, even if most of them fell on the floor and one or two were stepped on? I wanted to give my party pancakes as a reward but I'm unsure if it's too much. The pancakes are also laced with blowfish poison so the party would have to get an antitoxin before they could eat the ones which weren't pulverized by shoes."

    I don't think anyone would want those pancakes even if you paid them to eat them.

  9. - Top - End - #1449
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milodiah View Post
    The biggest mistake you can make when making those situational magic items is "versus x" in my opinion. I'm already a little iffy on bane weapons, but in general players tend to remember they have a +2 undead bane sword. What I really mean is like "this ring gives a +2 bonus to AC, which increases to a +4 bonus against undead, as well as a +2 bonus to saves against the spells and abilities of undead creatures".

    Most players aren't gonna remember that little caveat. And that's assuming you're gonna encounter a higher than average proportion of undead in the sessions to come. If you happen to be up against, say, giants and monstrous humanoids most of the time due to the particular storyline you're following you've got an item whose main magical bonus is doing absolutely nothing, through no real fault of the player. If its an ability that requires tactical setup by the player to execute, like a bonus to sneak attack damage or added AC when threatened by more than one enemy, that's something that the player can consciously choose to arrange. But the player doesn't get to build the encounters, so its 100% on the DM to ensure that such situational items if included aren't useless 90% of the time.
    That's where 4E failed me in magic weapons. All they did was change the damage type. It doesn't matter a flame tongue changed martial damage to fire damage. It's still the same amount of damage based on the Class Power used. That the damage is fire only matters to those particular monsters where it does matter. You're cheering you have it for that one encounter against the troll, but for the rest of the game it doesn't do anything. In 5E a flame tongue gives you an extra +2d6 fire damage to all your combats. That is a big deal to make having the weapon exciting and you lump those few fights against fire resistant or immune creatures but at least the weapon still counts as magical.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    This goes back to something I wish I could see more of in 5e... subclasses that are essentially multiclasses.

    For example, we have the Eldritch Knight, who combines fighting and arcane spellcasting; I think there is a wizard version, as well. However, we don't have the Divine Knight, who uses clerical magic in the same way. Or the Nature Knight (which is a horrible name) which uses Druid Magic. Or the Blooded Knight, who is a part sorcerer. Or the Pact Knight, who is a semi-warlock.

    Like the Eldritch Knight, having one of these would not be a 100% fix for not having a member of that class. Maybe the Divine Knight gets a domain (at -3 levels), but can only cast those spells. Or the Pact Knight gets only a few invocations and no spells... something that makes them kind of like the class, but not really.
    We do.

    Divine Knight - Paladin
    Nature Knight - Ranger
    Pact Knight - Blade Pact Warlock, Hexblade as a bonus

    I know what you mean, but in effect they already exist. Personally playing a paladin I have had cause to cast support/buff spells. Bless is common and mostly used so the cleric doesn't have to because he as a more important concentration spell. I just played a game where Protection From Poison on a party member was the right play.
    Last edited by Pex; 2021-12-04 at 11:05 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    "Welcome to Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition, where the DCs are made up and the rules don't matter."

  10. - Top - End - #1450
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    That's one of the things that's kind of interesting between 3e and 4e. In some ways, the variety brokenness of 3e makes optimization less necessary. If your bonus can end up varying from +5 to +25, whether you got the +1 for being the right kind of Elf doesn't really matter. This is why I tend to disagree with the people who frame 3e as being just about charop. It's true that you can build very powerful characters in the system, but it's also much more friendly to building characters around whatever your pet bit of crappy mechanics is. In 4e, if you don't have the right racial bonus, you're just out a bonus the game needs you to have. In 5e, the small size of bonuses makes finding a way to get an additional +1 or +2 much more impactful.
    Yes, yes and yes. I don't need Weapon Focus per se, I can just take it if I have nothing better to do with my feats or on the way to other feats. But the game math is flexible enough so that just getting decent numbers from your chassis (and requisite magic items) is enough to land hits and make saves against close CRs. AC is the only fundamental statistic that doesn't really work out in the same way, scaling rather poorly to the extent that concealment is considered a better defense (maybe there should be Bonus AC or something similar to BAB or even derived from it, but scaling slower?)
    Last edited by Ignimortis; 2021-12-05 at 01:25 AM.
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  11. - Top - End - #1451
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    The problem with the notion of not giving numerical bonuses in D&D is that D&D is, ultimately, a numbers game. The thing that determines whether a character is good at something or not is how big their numbers for that thing are. You can be more or less artful with how you give out your +#s, you can make the situational, you can change which numbers you're giving +#s to, but ultimately, if a player has a concept like "I want to be a guy who is really tough", then the only way for the system to make that character concept possible is to give him options which add to his AC, HP, etc.

    Giving characters new abilities sounds good until you actually start working it out. You'll run either run out of useful things to give the player that don't overlap really quickly, you'll wind up with a ton of situational abilities that do nothing 99% of the time, or you'll find yourself giving them +#s with extra steps. And the nature of abilities/feats/magical weapons that have absolute effects (since anything else would involve numerical bonuses) is that they're almost impossible to balance. Either the player is immune to damage, and the encounter is trivial, or the feat does nothing.

    If you want to get away from numerical bonuses, then you either have to commit to have a really, really flat power curve with almost no room for customization or you have to overhaul a lot more of the system's mechanics to make them less based around "Roll a d20 and add your to-hit bonus to see if you hit the monster".

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    @RandomPeasant & PhoenixPhyre:

    It's possible to cap max bonus of (items + abilities) to be the same as max bonus of just items or just abilities. In practice, this means that optimizing character abilities means you hit diminishing returns for items, and vice versa. The character with most powerful abilities gains little to no benefits from items, the character with most powerful items gains little or no benefits from abilities.

    In practice, this would mean going back to old D&D paradigm where being able to even use some items is dictated by class, just as surely as access to spells is. So if you want to benefit from potion of heroism or want to use rod of lordly might to its full capacity, you have to be a Fighter of sufficient level. If you want to forego items and rely on your own physical or supernatural abilities, then you have to be a Monk or Paladin or whatever, which means giving up ability to use some items. So on and so forth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BloodSquirrel View Post
    The problem with the notion of not giving numerical bonuses in D&D is that D&D is, ultimately, a numbers game. The thing that determines whether a character is good at something or not is how big their numbers for that thing are. You can be more or less artful with how you give out your +#s, you can make the situational, you can change which numbers you're giving +#s to, but ultimately, if a player has a concept like "I want to be a guy who is really tough", then the only way for the system to make that character concept possible is to give him options which add to his AC, HP, etc.

    Giving characters new abilities sounds good until you actually start working it out. You'll run either run out of useful things to give the player that don't overlap really quickly, you'll wind up with a ton of situational abilities that do nothing 99% of the time, or you'll find yourself giving them +#s with extra steps. And the nature of abilities/feats/magical weapons that have absolute effects (since anything else would involve numerical bonuses) is that they're almost impossible to balance. Either the player is immune to damage, and the encounter is trivial, or the feat does nothing.

    If you want to get away from numerical bonuses, then you either have to commit to have a really, really flat power curve with almost no room for customization or you have to overhaul a lot more of the system's mechanics to make them less based around "Roll a d20 and add your to-hit bonus to see if you hit the monster".
    For sake of argument let's say it's feats giving these lateral powers, since the idea is it's extra stuff anyone can get not related to Class because Class is where you're supposed to get all the numbers you need. Not giving so many is one way to solve the issue. No one character can have everything even though their choices are among everything. However, there may be concern of what goes into the feat pool of everything. Too few everything will exist within a party. Too many you run the risk of accidental traps and overpowered. Another idea is to bring back the 3E/Pathfinder concept of some feats being class specific as in getting more uses per day to use a class ability. The number of uses a class gets should be enough, but getting more lets you spam a bit more. Of course you need to weigh what the class ability is. For example, in 5E terms maybe a feat is gain a Channel Divinity use. That's for clerics and paladins only. A cleric would like it, but other feats are still attractive. A paladin will take a second look. However, I would agree that idea needs its own second look to be sure they don't become "must haves" as being mathematical plus numbers by another name.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
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  14. - Top - End - #1454
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    Quote Originally Posted by BloodSquirrel View Post
    The problem with the notion of not giving numerical bonuses in D&D is that D&D is, ultimately, a numbers game. The thing that determines whether a character is good at something or not is how big their numbers for that thing are. You can be more or less artful with how you give out your +#s, you can make the situational, you can change which numbers you're giving +#s to, but ultimately, if a player has a concept like "I want to be a guy who is really tough", then the only way for the system to make that character concept possible is to give him options which add to his AC, HP, etc.

    Giving characters new abilities sounds good until you actually start working it out. You'll run either run out of useful things to give the player that don't overlap really quickly, you'll wind up with a ton of situational abilities that do nothing 99% of the time, or you'll find yourself giving them +#s with extra steps. And the nature of abilities/feats/magical weapons that have absolute effects (since anything else would involve numerical bonuses) is that they're almost impossible to balance. Either the player is immune to damage, and the encounter is trivial, or the feat does nothing.

    If you want to get away from numerical bonuses, then you either have to commit to have a really, really flat power curve with almost no room for customization or you have to overhaul a lot more of the system's mechanics to make them less based around "Roll a d20 and add your to-hit bonus to see if you hit the monster".
    An ability that allows reactive teleportation once per minute. An ability that allows the character to cause their melee attacks to gain splash damage at will. An ability that allows strength checks to burst things to be made for free as part of a move action (costing only the 5ft of movement used to try to move past the object's location). An ability that creates damage ghosts on a miss which apply the attack damage ignoring AC the next round if someone is still standing in the targeted square. An ability that limits the number of attacks per round that the character can be subjected to from any single source. An ability which lets a character ignore an enemy's strength bonus to damage...

    Edit: Also stuff with more stateful consequences... An ability that makes it so if you hit -10hp or lower, you don't die as long as you're healed within 3 rounds. An ability where if you deal more than 50 damage in a hit, it creates a permanent wound that requires Restoration or Regenerate to heal. An ability where if you drop someone with nonlethal damage, they gain a permanent phobia of you / they become your minion after the fight / etc...
    Last edited by NichG; 2021-12-05 at 04:12 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    An ability that allows reactive teleportation once per minute. An ability that allows the character to cause their melee attacks to gain splash damage at will. An ability that allows strength checks to burst things to be made for free as part of a move action (costing only the 5ft of movement used to try to move past the object's location). An ability that creates damage ghosts on a miss which apply the attack damage ignoring AC the next round if someone is still standing in the targeted square. An ability that limits the number of attacks per round that the character can be subjected to from any single source. An ability which lets a character ignore an enemy's strength bonus to damage...
    Yeah, most of those are wildly overpowered, and perfect examples of abilities which will completely break the balance of your game. The last two can easily reduce the damage output of a monster by 90% or more when combined, enough that if they player manages to get any damage reduction it'll be all the way down to 0. The damage ghost is practically an auto-hit. Turning a character's basic attack into an AOE is on the level of "Now we don't need the wizard anymore".

    And those are just a handful of abilities. Come up with enough of those to actually fill out your whole system and you'll wind up with invincible characters who can one-shot whole dungeons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BloodSquirrel View Post
    Yeah, most of those are wildly overpowered, and perfect examples of abilities which will completely break the balance of your game. The last two can easily reduce the damage output of a monster by 90% or more when combined, enough that if they player manages to get any damage reduction it'll be all the way down to 0. The damage ghost is practically an auto-hit. Turning a character's basic attack into an AOE is on the level of "Now we don't need the wizard anymore".

    And those are just a handful of abilities. Come up with enough of those to actually fill out your whole system and you'll wind up with invincible characters who can one-shot whole dungeons.
    Here's the thing. 5e's feats, with the exception of a couple notorious ones (which themselves only have a couple problematic bullet points[0]), already does 90% of what I want. The game math is forgiving enough that unless you do something stupid (like I did) and give +3 weapons and armor at low levels[1], gear doesn't have a huge numerical impact. Feats are mostly lateral moves, again, except for those few cases. And the game's math works fine without either feats or magic gear (although it's definitely harder without the latter, at least if the monster selection leans towards things with resistance/immunity to non-magical attacks, especially if you don't have someone who can cast magic weapon or who has innate magic weapons, ie monk/moon druid). Most of a character's power comes from their class(es). That doesn't mean everything's balanced (looking at you, wizard spells), but it means you're not locking system-assumed capabilities into optional areas.

    Basically, if D&D were analogous to a metroidvania, I don't want to lock the items you need to progress behind optional areas. Because "needed to progress" and "optional" just don't go together. And feats (both in the specific and the general) and specific gear are optional.

    [0] Specifically as far as I'm concerned:
    * The -5/+10 bullet points of Great Weapon Master and Sharpshooter
    * The "ignore half cover, reduce 3/4 cover to half cover" bullet point of Sharpshooter
    * The bonus action attack of Crossbow Expert and Polearm Master.

    [1] They beat an ithillich at level 9 (due to a combination of fast talking and some really good rolls; the fast talking let the paladin start combat at melee range, the good rolls gave him top initiative and a couple smite crits, basically one-shot the thing). And then the random treasure roll gave them 4 legendary items--3 legendary weapons and a cubic gate. This has distorted the gameplay from there on. I've compensated, and thankfully I'm not a challenge-focused DM. That'd be hard anyway, because my dice hate me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BloodSquirrel View Post
    Yeah, most of those are wildly overpowered, and perfect examples of abilities which will completely break the balance of your game. The last two can easily reduce the damage output of a monster by 90% or more when combined, enough that if they player manages to get any damage reduction it'll be all the way down to 0. The damage ghost is practically an auto-hit. Turning a character's basic attack into an AOE is on the level of "Now we don't need the wizard anymore".

    And those are just a handful of abilities. Come up with enough of those to actually fill out your whole system and you'll wind up with invincible characters who can one-shot whole dungeons.
    I mean, I'm running a campaign with stuff like that and more, both for the PC and NPC sides of the table. It works fine, as long as you take the attitude of putting challenges which require game-changing abilities in front of the party, don't skimp on allowing players to have access to game-changing abilities, and make it so some thought is required to bring the potential of those abilities to bear. But make the situationality more of a 'I need to figure out how to resolve this situation, out of my 10 options these three might have some potential to help, because of the specific details of why this situation is difficult for me' rather than 'did I remember to check if I'm in one of those situations in which my stuff applies?'.
    Last edited by NichG; 2021-12-05 at 06:39 PM.

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    Here's mine: darkvision is a bad mechanic, and doubly so for PCs. Either it's rare enough that you get no value from it because everyone without it still needs to get by (3.5) or everyone and their dog gets it (5e) and you have absurd situations where players will look at other players funny for picking a race that doesn't have it. Either way, it adds nothing of interest to the game and leads to games getting bogged down in vision-measurement minutiae that nobody enjoys.
    Last edited by Gurgeh; 2021-12-05 at 09:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gurgeh View Post
    Here's mine: darkvision is a bad mechanic, and doubly so for PCs. Either it's rare enough that you get no value from it because everyone without it still needs to get by (3.5) or everyone and their dog gets it (5e) and you have absurd situations where players will look at other players funny for picking a race that doesn't have it. Either way, it adds nothing of interest to the game and leads to games getting bogged down in vision-measurement minutiae that nobody enjoys.
    When the DM forgets it's dark, everyone has darkvision!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ignimortis View Post
    AC is the only fundamental statistic that doesn't really work out in the same way, scaling rather poorly to the extent that concealment is considered a better defense (maybe there should be Bonus AC or something similar to BAB or even derived from it, but scaling slower?)
    I think the design intent is that AC is supposed to be scaled so that people have a reasonable chance of hitting with secondary or tertiary attacks, or when Power Attacking to boost damage output.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    Too many you run the risk of accidental traps and overpowered.
    I would argue that this is to some degree backwards. There is always going to be a best option. However you write your Archer Feats, there will be a best Feat for Archers. The way around that isn't to limit the number of feats it's to A) make feats relatively low impact and B) give people lots of feats (while writing even more). That way the party Archer can just take Recurve Bow Mastery or whichever thing makes them a real good Archer, then go off and take Etiquette Training or Bear Lore or any other secondary abilities appropriate to their concept.

    Quote Originally Posted by BloodSquirrel View Post
    The last two can easily reduce the damage output of a monster by 90% or more when combined
    They can. But they can also be almost completely useless. Imagine, for instance, a monster that has a single attack with high base damage and some sort of Backstab or Sneak Attack damage boost. Against such a creature, neither ability has any effect. Similarly, a monster with enough reach to threaten multiple players and multiple attacks can simply ignore the player with good defenses and target the other members of the party. A defense that effects only you is of relatively limited utility in D&D, as the game seldom provides effective tools for tanking.

    The damage ghost is practically an auto-hit.
    Sure, but who cares? Hitting touch AC in 3e was an auto-hit against almost everything, but no one thought Eldritch Blast is broken. In XCOM, auto-damage explosives coexist effectively alongside guns that can miss, with guns often being the dominant option for various reasons.

    Turning a character's basic attack into an AOE is on the level of "Now we don't need the wizard anymore".
    Why? The Wizard doesn't just do AoE damage, they have battlefield control effects, single-target disables, summons, and more (depending upon the edition). You could also very easily imagine that the AoE damage the Wizard does is higher or larger in area than what the Fighter gets, providing them with a clear niche.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gurgeh View Post
    Here's mine: darkvision is a bad mechanic, and doubly so for PCs. Either it's rare enough that you get no value from it because everyone without it still needs to get by (3.5) or everyone and their dog gets it (5e) and you have absurd situations where players will look at other players funny for picking a race that doesn't have it. Either way, it adds nothing of interest to the game and leads to games getting bogged down in vision-measurement minutiae that nobody enjoys.
    Darkvision has the same basic problem as water breathing. In some campaigns, it will be completely mandatory and it is therefore unfair for people to be charged for it. Whereas in other campaigns it will be completely useless, and it is also unfair for people to be charged for it. Some DMs will be able to thread the needle of making Darkvision or a swim speed or being adapted to the Elemental Plane of Fire useful but not overpowering, but it's not common.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gurgeh View Post
    Here's mine: darkvision is a bad mechanic, and doubly so for PCs. Either it's rare enough that you get no value from it because everyone without it still needs to get by (3.5) or everyone and their dog gets it (5e) and you have absurd situations where players will look at other players funny for picking a race that doesn't have it. Either way, it adds nothing of interest to the game and leads to games getting bogged down in vision-measurement minutiae that nobody enjoys.
    I agree. DMs, unintentionally or intentionally, use darkness as a paranoia inducer. They always like to ask players what light source they're using. The dungeon may be dark, but in reality it's rarely relevant. PCs light a torch or cast Light and move on. Players aren't innocent either. They make their own paranoia, They hate having to light a torch in dungeons and are outright hysterical against having a campfire at night in the wilderness. I can understand no campfire when in a known hostile area of orcs or hobgoblins. but when you're just in a clearing of the forest or the hills and fields, what do you expect to happen? As I see it, if the DM throws bandits or other hostiles at us every time we camp for the night with a campfire in what was an open empty field for miles around, I say let it be a TPK, game over, and someone else DM who isn't such a donkey cavity about these things.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I would argue that this is to some degree backwards. There is always going to be a best option. However you write your Archer Feats, there will be a best Feat for Archers. The way around that isn't to limit the number of feats it's to A) make feats relatively low impact and B) give people lots of feats (while writing even more). That way the party Archer can just take Recurve Bow Mastery or whichever thing makes them a real good Archer, then go off and take Etiquette Training or Bear Lore or any other secondary abilities appropriate to their concept.
    Having so many leads to bloat. After creating X feats you need a reason why someone would want the X + 1th feat, the X + 2nd feat, and so on. It's not as easy to just say don't make the feat have high impact. How do you know it isn't? The idea is these feats won't have plus numbers to things. They give abilities. If you're wrong on their impact, overpowered. Even if it is of low impact, why would anyone take it? Why take that one that will see so little use when you can take some other feat you'll get more use of, avoiding the trap feat that will see so little use.

    That was a problem for 3E and a fustercluck for Pathfinder 1E. Pathfinder got reamed a new one when they made a feat to allow a PC to use the Diplomacy skill in combat to get an opponent to surrender or at least parley. DMs and players have been doing that for years out of good roleplay, and now the game was telling them no, only PCs with the feat may do it. Everyone rightfully ignored that feat.
    Last edited by Pex; 2021-12-06 at 02:01 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I think the design intent is that AC is supposed to be scaled so that people have a reasonable chance of hitting with secondary or tertiary attacks, or when Power Attacking to boost damage output.
    I mostly meant PC AC, which scales, at the top intended by the system (heaviest armor should provide top AC, right?), from maybe 16-18 (scale mail +DEX) at level 1 to around...35 if you only get the expected bonuses (+5 mithral full plate, +5 natural armor, +5 deflection). Shields can add a bunch too, but I don't think every PC is expected to have an Animated Heavy Shield +5. Everything on top of that is not really expected.

    Meanwhile, attack for full BAB scales much better ó you start off with +5, maybe +6 (equivalent of 15-16 AC basically, average roll and all) and end up with at least +34 (20 BAB, +9 stat (no wishes involved, yet), +5 magic weapon), so your first attack hits the equivalent PC pretty much always, and you have a solid chance of landing three out of four. Increasing attack is also easier than increasing AC, since a lot of AC bonuses are dependent on you not wearing armor and therefore exist to compensate for the lack of AC, not to improve it.

    Then again, I'm a pretty low-OP player as far as these forums are concerned, so maybe my understanding is flawed.
    Last edited by Ignimortis; 2021-12-06 at 12:22 AM.
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    Darkness was an important factor when torches/lanterns meant a hand used up, Light cost a spell, and infravision meant a level cap. Not so much when Light is a cantrip and non-humans don't have a level cap.

    Of course, many DMs just go the Terry Pratchett route: "... mysterious caves and tunnels always have luminous fungi, strangely bright crystals or at a pinch merely an eldritch glow in the air, just in case a human hero comes in and needs to see in the dark. Strange but true."

    Unpopular opinion: non-human level caps were a good thing, being an important balancing factor and doing the intended job of making D&D primarily human, and should be brought back.

    Unpopular opinion: Archery being hard to use due to firing into melee rules and impossible to use in melee, and spells being impossible or very hard to cast in melee, we're important balancing factors and should be brought back. Offensive cantrips are okay for arcane squishy casters, but should be toned down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Unpopular opinion: non-human level caps were a good thing, being an important balancing factor and doing the intended job of making D&D primarily human, and should be brought back.

    Unpopular opinion: Archery being hard to use due to firing into melee rules and impossible to use in melee, and spells being impossible or very hard to cast in melee, we're important balancing factors and should be brought back. Offensive cantrips are okay for arcane squishy casters, but should be toned down.
    Oh my. Those certainly would be unpopular. A solid contender for the winner of the thread, even.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant
    There is always going to be a best option. However you write your Archer Feats, there will be a best Feat for Archers.
    Provably false. There's a host of game design tricks to, say, create a rock-paper-scissors relationship between feats, or make feats usable in mutually exclusive situations so that there isn't a single best archery feat. The difficult part is then making it so that this doesn't end up with every archer using all their feats to be good at archery. Repeat for every aspect of life you want feats for.

    In practice, the more feats you have, the harder it becomes to cross-check them for bad interactions. The way around that is to make each feat unremarkable. So your proposed solution of a lot of low-impact feats is a solution to a self-created problem.

    A saner way to do it would be to do away with redundant structures of subclass and multiclass and boil then down to feats. In fact, you could remove entire classes if you did it, because some classes (paladin, ranger, barbarian, druid, sorcerer) were originally subclasses of broader classes (fighter, cleric, magic-user). Others (warlock) have 100% thematic overlap with other classes (what did you think evil magic-users are?) and only exist as independent classes because someone slapped the name on an alternate magic system. Alternatively, lean hard into subclasses and do away with feats and multiclassing.

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    Are we back to PF 2 ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Unpopular opinion: non-human level caps were a good thing, being an important balancing factor and doing the intended job of making D&D primarily human, and should be brought back.
    How do level caps serve as a balancing factor? If you're below the level cap, they don't do anything. If you're above the level cap they make your character increasingly underpowered the higher above the cap you go.

    And why do you think D&D should be primarily human? I think that qualifies as an unpopular opinion in its own right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Darkness was an important factor when torches/lanterns meant a hand used up, Light cost a spell, and infravision meant a level cap. Not so much when Light is a cantrip and non-humans don't have a level cap.

    Of course, many DMs just go the Terry Pratchett route: "... mysterious caves and tunnels always have luminous fungi, strangely bright crystals or at a pinch merely an eldritch glow in the air, just in case a human hero comes in and needs to see in the dark. Strange but true."

    Unpopular opinion: non-human level caps were a good thing, being an important balancing factor and doing the intended job of making D&D primarily human, and should be brought back.
    In both cases, I think these illuminate the same thing - D&D rules existed for a reason, usually one that made sense in Gary's open table megadungeon game.

    As the game moved away from that, and the rules migrated with it, I think it was often missed that these things often worked together or were balancing other things, and so you ended up with some wonkiness and things being either vestigal and pointless or massively overpowered.

    Like, non-human races. They were just better in TSR D&D. The level caps made sense with them, to keep the game from being completely dominated. They were to a certain extent "easy mode". But that came with the limitation of not being able to get as far. And that worked in an open table game, where getting to high levels wasn't guaranteed, and you had multiple characters anyway.

    That doesn't really work as well in most modern games where the assumption is that the party sticks together - but humans have retained their overall lack of specialness in most cases, making them a pretty poor choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Unpopular opinion: Archery being hard to use due to firing into melee rules and impossible to use in melee, and spells being impossible or very hard to cast in melee, we're important balancing factors and should be brought back. Offensive cantrips are okay for arcane squishy casters, but should be toned down.
    100%.

    Again, I think that the difficulty of spellcasting (especially!) was a deliberate balancing factor forcing spellcasters to be vulnerable to cast and forcing them to be protected. Reduction of the difficulty of casting was the biggest factor in the caster-dominance of 3e.
    Last edited by kyoryu; 2021-12-06 at 09:51 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    That doesn't really work as well in most modern games where the assumption is that the party sticks together - but humans have retained their overall lack of specialness in most cases, making them a pretty poor choice.
    To be fair, humans not seeming very special is kind of a given in a game written from a human perspective. If D&D was written by dwarves, humans would be freakishly tall and kind of frail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    To be fair, humans not seeming very special is kind of a given in a game written from a human perspective. If D&D was written by dwarves, humans would be freakishly tall and kind of frail.
    Sure, humans are "default".

    But mechanically, they're just weak in most editions. Arguably more so in TSR D&D, since there light was more important and having access to multiclassing was more limited.

    But default or not, the things other races get are pretty much shown as straight up being better than humans. Or, at least, being better for certain niches - dwarves are pretty much straight up better fighters, for instance, and the downsides they have don't really matter if you're a fighter. For almost any character concept, there's a race that is strictly better than humans, even if it's not always the same race.

    IOW, humans win on flexibility, but flexibility doesn't matter in a class-based system. "Dwarves are better at fighters, but worse at being mages, while elves are great mages but poor fighters" doesn't really matter. All that ends up mattering is "dwarves are better fighters, elves are better mages, humans.... eh, they exist."
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