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Thread: Why Modifiers?

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    Default Re: Why Modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by stoutstien View Post
    Same. Went for -3 to +3 because I'm using a dice + stat +stat as the base formula. Stuff like skills and prof don't add direct value to the total so at most its adding 4 single digit numbers. Want to do a backflip off a roof onto the back of a moving horse? Finesse + presence +die roll. This we there is a huge array of possible combos but is also very quicky to decide what to use. Lot easier to map an action as a relationship between 2 groups than trying to make everything fit in the boxes.
    I'm going with "if two or more proficiencies you have can apply (after checking with the DM), gain advantage on the check." But of course, the result has to match all the proficiencies you applied. So straight wisdom (insight) doesn't give you advantage, but gives you the broadest range of outcomes. But wisdom (insight + religion) might only give you info about how well a priest is fitting his ostensible religious beliefs. But you get advantage.
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    Default Re: Why Modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I'm going with "if two or more proficiencies you have can apply (after checking with the DM), gain advantage on the check." But of course, the result has to match all the proficiencies you applied. So straight wisdom (insight) doesn't give you advantage, but gives you the broadest range of outcomes. But wisdom (insight + religion) might only give you info about how well a priest is fitting his ostensible religious beliefs. But you get advantage.
    Nice. That would definitely make knowledge investments more appropriate. I'm doing something similar but the second "skill " is based on background and also frames how the GM would give the information back. The scholar priest would know a thing or two about dragons but the worldly former soldier trader has more of an applied understanding of why you might want to avoid them.

    Im a fan of anything that promotes makes fully fleshed out characters with a little variant in their background and foci.
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    Quote Originally Posted by stoutstien View Post
    Nice. That would definitely make knowledge investments more appropriate. I'm doing something similar but the second "skill " is based on background and also frames how the GM would give the information back. The scholar priest would know a thing or two about dragons but the worldly former soldier trader has more of an applied understanding of why you might want to avoid them.

    Im a fan of anything that promotes makes fully fleshed out characters with a little variant in their background and foci.
    I treat "this is a substantial part of your background" as reasons for auto-success or converting a binary (success/failure) into degrees of success, especially for information checks. The sailor wants to walk on a thin branch (much like the spar of a mast)? Probably just going to let them do that. The soldier wants to know about a mercenary badge (from an area close-ish to where he served)? Great, I just give him the info. The scholar looking at a mural might go degrees of success--he's guaranteed to get something, but the higher he gets, the more details he extracts. Etc.

    I like when characters know about the world and I can just feed information through the appropriate character. I dislike "alien" characters (where "alien" might be "from very far away") because I can't just set a reasonable "any reasonable competent adult in <area> would know that..." baseline as easily.
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    Default Re: Why Modifiers?

    Modern D&D probably still uses it because it's D&D. Whether or not maintaining that identity is a good reason is a personal opinion.

    The system itself exists originally because the modifiers applied to different tasks were usually different. So if you had a +1 to hit because of a high Strength score in pre-WotC D&D there was no guarantee you had any bonus to damage. And at a +3 to hit you might only have +1 to damage and a slightly larger % chance to force open doors. These are examples, I don't actually remember the break down. And I don't think bonuses even scaled evenly across stats, so like your bonuses for Int weren't comparable in any capacity to your bonuses for Str.

    So the rolled number served to give you a specific spot on the table to look up while keeping characters relatively uniform (so you don't end up with no bonus to hit, but +5 damage or something). WotC simplified this system in 3e, so that you still rolled in a fairly traditional way, but you didn't need to look up a table every time you played because it was consistent across stats and your bonus to anything based on a stat was always one number. Additionally, at least up to 3.5, ability drain and ability damage were actually fairly common hazards, which meant that having the score itself be higher than the bonus mattered when you could take 1d6 or more ability damage and either die or go into a coma at 0
    Last edited by Luccan; 2023-08-24 at 01:17 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I treat "this is a substantial part of your background" as reasons for auto-success or converting a binary (success/failure) into degrees of success, especially for information checks. The sailor wants to walk on a thin branch (much like the spar of a mast)? Probably just going to let them do that. The soldier wants to know about a mercenary badge (from an area close-ish to where he served)? Great, I just give him the info. The scholar looking at a mural might go degrees of success--he's guaranteed to get something, but the higher he gets, the more details he extracts. Etc.

    I like when characters know about the world and I can just feed information through the appropriate character. I dislike "alien" characters (where "alien" might be "from very far away") because I can't just set a reasonable "any reasonable competent adult in <area> would know that..." baseline as easily.
    Im using a traveler's inspired mini game for character gen so there is a big possibility for them to have at least have a passing acquaintance with the area and each other. I'll write up a fast forward version but honestly i think rolling up stats is the least interesting part.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luccan View Post
    And I don't think bonuses even scaled evenly across stats, so like your bonuses for Int weren't comparable in any capacity to your bonuses for Str.
    They did not in the original game, nor in AD&D (although it got closer in AD&D) but in B/X and BECMI, that consistency appeared.
    18 was a +3, 16-17 was a +2, 13-15 was +1, 9-12 was +/- 0, 6-8 was -1, 4-5 -2, and3 was a -3. That was about 16 years before 3e, and I think that when they chose to unify the editions in 3e someone found that general consistency appealing. (And I still do).
    WotC simplified this system in 3e, so that you still rolled in a fairly traditional way, but you didn't need to look up a table every time you played because it was consistent across stats and your bonus to anything based on a stat was always one number. Additionally, at least up to 3.5, ability drain and ability damage were actually fairly common hazards, which meant that having the score itself be higher than the bonus mattered when you could take 1d6 or more ability damage and either die or go into a coma at 0
    We have STR reduction, and HP max reduction in a few cases in the current edition. I wonder if INT reduction ought to be introduced, to give the min maxers who dump INT a moment's pause.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2023-08-24 at 04:19 PM.
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    Default Re: Why Modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    We have STR reduction, and HP max reduction in a few cases in the current edition. I wonder if INT reduction ought to be introduced, to give the min maxers who dump INT a moment's pause.
    Indeed we do, but it's much more rare than in previous editions, I think. A lot of undead still have it, which is fitting, but not much outside that and unfortunately I don't find myself often fighting undead in 5e. I'll have a chance to deploy them when we restart my campaign, though

    Also, reduction to other stats should definitely be more common. More that reduce Dex would be welcome, given its god stat nature in this game. Give Strength warriors a break for once!
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    Yeah. I think it's mostly just for historical reasons. Modern D&D rarely actually uses the actual stat scores for anything (but there are still some things). Would be intreresting to just eliminate the stats (or just change them into the modifiers) and adjust the smalish things that directly affect stats to just directly affect the modifiers instead. I suppose the only lingering bit is that the stats are part of your actual person, and some things that drain stats may have effects beyond just lowering your ability modifiers (like say dying when a stat reaches zero, versus "your modifier just keeps going more negative).

    That, or you normalize all modifiers to be bonuses, but then you have to make a bunch of other adjustments to target numbers too.

    I have always found the modifiers to be strange, since they are all just directly about a single stat. In RQ, there are skill category bonuses, but they are almost all based on a combination of stats. So Agility takes into account dex, str, and siz, for example (and different stats may have different weight in each bonus). There's only one actual bonus that is based on just a single stat (knowledge bonus is basically just INT-10). This has the effect of making it a bit less advantageous to just focus on a single stat. Different stats will have different amounts of effects on just about everything you do. On the flip side, stat training is a thing, and not just something you get as you gain levels, so it's more common for older and more experienced characters to just have higher stats (and thus higher bonuses) across the board. Also, training up a stat may actually improve multiple category bonuses instead of just one.

    But yeah. It does seem odd to have a stat and a modifier based entirely off just that stat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    We have STR reduction, and HP max reduction in a few cases in the current edition. I wonder if INT reduction ought to be introduced, to give the min maxers who dump INT a moment's pause.
    Here's a wild idea: we remove the idea of 'finesse weapons' and make INT useful for something (initiative? Bonus tool/language proficiencies? I'm sure there's other options but they don't spring to mind). That should make it a fair bit harder to treat STR and INT as dump stats, which mostly leaves CHA (I'd add in 'scrounge up a relevant contact' rolls into the game and run them off of CHA). But honestly the first thing my 5e hack did was cut the stats down to four (Physique, Grace, Wisdom*, and Presence), which to me seems to improve the balance somewhat.

    I'm heavily considering gutting 'ability scores' like everybody else and going with modifiers from -2 to +5 (maybe +7 for some classes). But that's because I've reworked the only player-facing rule that actually used them, and I'll likely keep some kind of random score generation table.

    * Actually closer to D&D INT than WIS, but it's a better name and does keep the non-willpower aspects.
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    It makes more sense in 3/.5 where there are things that use one or the other. 5e and other systems don't use ability damage much though, so it feels redundant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stoutstien View Post
    Same. Went for -3 to +3 because I'm using a dice + stat +stat as the base formula. Stuff like skills and prof don't add direct value to the total so at most its adding 4 single digit numbers. Want to do a backflip off a roof onto the back of a moving horse? Finesse + presence +die roll. This we there is a huge array of possible combos but is also very quicky to decide what to use. Lot easier to map an action as a relationship between 2 groups than trying to make everything fit in the boxes.
    Star Trek RPG does something like that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Star Trek RPG does something like that.
    That is a nice little game really. Not a huge fan of narrative games but it does pull it off. Not a fan of 2D20 or meta points but thats a personal taste thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JellyPooga View Post
    Like, I get that it's what D&D did so clones and copies are bound to arise, but why is it so ubiquitous?
    But is it actually ubiquitous?

    I can honestly not think of any game that does is besides D&D derivatives.

    Fate doesn't do it. PbtA doesn't do it. World of Darkness doesn't do it. Savage World doesn't do it. 2d20 (Conan, Star Trek Adventures) doesn't do it. The Free League games (Mutant: Year Zero, Forbidden Lands, Coriolis, Alien etc.) don't do it. d100 (Chutullu et. al.) doesn't do it. GURPS doesn't do it. DSA doesn't do it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zombimode View Post
    But is it actually ubiquitous?

    I can honestly not think of any game that does is besides D&D derivatives.
    Considering the absolute dominance D&D has over the industry I'm fairly comfortable calling any mechanic used in it ubiquitous. Although I believe even it's derivatives are moving away from this practice.

    (Also Mongoose Traveller uses ability modifiers.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
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    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Although I believe even it's derivatives are moving away from this practice.
    True, I've seen this in Pirate Borg: you do roll your abilities with 3d6 but you don't write down this result, only the actual modifier. So your Strength is not 16 - its 2.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zombimode View Post
    True, I've seen this in Pirate Borg: you do roll your abilities with 3d6 but you don't write down this result, only the actual modifier. So your Strength is not 16 - its 2.
    Quite a few OSR adjacent systems do it this way. It's clean and simple but it does mean you can't just port them to OSR material/modules.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zombimode View Post
    True, I've seen this in Pirate Borg: you do roll your abilities with 3d6 but you don't write down this result, only the actual modifier. So your Strength is not 16 - its 2.
    So do the various AGE games, although they set the average at one rather than zero (Modern AGE is one of my preferred D&D alikes). You just end up having a stat generation table rather than a stat modifiers table.

    I believe Pathfinder 2.1 is also moving to just having modifiers, and I think it lands soon.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
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    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Why Modifiers?

    I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that the 3e designers started with something 'neater', found that it didn't work with their goals, and had to patch it into something that did. 3rd edition borrows much of its basic 'chassis' from Ars Magica, which I think at the time was already using -5 to +5 with a score of zero as the human average in a stat. For a D&D game though, a 3 - 18 range is more familiar to its target audience.

    If I had to guess what happened, they started with a +10 to -10 system (to fit the change from d10 to d20), changed it to a 3 to 18 system to make it more familiar to existing D&D players, and then decided either that numbers in general were too high as a result, or that ability scores were being emphasised too much. Possibly even both.
    Last edited by lesser_minion; 2023-08-27 at 05:10 AM.

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    The problem I have with the ability score modifiers is the unnecessarikt complicated way they did it. They could have just bumped up all the DCs by 5 had had the modifier simply be your ability score divided by 2, but instead they did this weird thing where you have to subtract ten first and sometimes the numbers are negative, and then you have to round to the nearest whole number even though multiclassing and stuff would work better if we tracked fractional modifiers but that's a whole different kettle of fish
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2023-08-26 at 09:59 AM.
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    Default Re: Why Modifiers?

    The offset by 10 doesn't bother me, but I really dislike the divide by 2.

    Like, 10 offsets make sense on a d20 system since that's the average result of a roll, so if your modifier was just stat minus 10, that would mean that your stat value equals the average result of a raw stat check (well, within 0.5). That would actually be pretty legible - someone with a Str 15 has a 50/50 shot at a DC 15 check, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    They did not in the original game, nor in AD&D (although it got closer in AD&D) but in B/X and BECMI, that consistency appeared.
    18 was a +3, 16-17 was a +2, 13-15 was +1, 9-12 was +/- 0, 6-8 was -1, 4-5 -2, and3 was a -3. That was about 16 years before 3e, and I think that when they chose to unify the editions in 3e someone found that general consistency appealing. (And I still do).
    We have STR reduction, and HP max reduction in a few cases in the current edition. I wonder if INT reduction ought to be introduced, to give the min maxers who dump INT a moment's pause.
    There are a few monsters that hit other stats in 5e. Some demons reduce CHA, and Iíve seen some creatures that reduce DEX, with you turning into stone if you hit 0, but that may have been something custom for an adventure, not an official monster.

    There are quite a few OSR games that deal stat damage after you plow through your HP (so your HP are effectively how much damage you can take before going into a death spiral of reduced effectiveness). Neoclassical Geek Revival does this across the board, for example.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    The problem I have with the ability score modifiers is the unnecessarikt complicated way they did it. They could have just bumped up all the DCs by 5 had had the modifier simply be your ability score divided by 2, but instead they did this weird thing where you have to subtract ten first and sometimes the numbers are negative, and then you have to round to the nearest whole number even though multiclassing and stuff would work better if we tracked fractional modifiers but that's a whole different kettle of fish
    The negative thing is the real issue. A range of +0 to +10 is mathematically the same as a range of -5 to +5, so there's no mechanical reason you need the penalties. And having them makes anything that lets you add a stat bonus you don't normally (or stops you from adding one you normally do) more complicated, because now you have to deal with negative modifiers that flip whether adding your stat is desirable or not.

    Also tracking fractional modifiers sounds like a huge pain in the ass. Dice produce whole numbers, stuff that interacts with dice should be done in whole numbers.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    The offset by 10 doesn't bother me, but I really dislike the divide by 2.
    Having a separate stat and bonus can be useful (e.g. carrying capacity in 3e is keyed off your your STR score, not your bonus) because it gives you more granularity. It also makes ability damage or ability score penalties less punishing. The problem is that there are a lot of cases where it's not particularly useful. It's hard for me to figure out even a hypothetical case where I could slice Intelligence or Constitution narrowly enough that I'd want the extra granularity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Having a separate stat and bonus can be useful (e.g. carrying capacity in 3e is keyed off your your STR score, not your bonus) because it gives you more granularity. It also makes ability damage or ability score penalties less punishing. The problem is that there are a lot of cases where it's not particularly useful. It's hard for me to figure out even a hypothetical case where I could slice Intelligence or Constitution narrowly enough that I'd want the extra granularity.
    I think ability damage/drain would be improved compared to 3e if all of the 1d4 sources were replaced with 1d2 or just 1 point, 1d6 with 2 points, etc; and each point of damage was a -1 to associated checks, but you didn't die until zero (so effectively you have twice the buffer before ability damage becomes lethal). And rather than having size categories modify ability scores directly, have everything they do be in the form of size penalties or size bonuses to AC/attack/etc. That would make things like Shivering Ray less dominant against big creatures as a direct kill strategy, while still allowing it to be quite a potent debuff. Carrying capacity doesn't really need the granularity I think.

    Having chargen stats be responsible for a -4 to +8 range on dice rolls is a bit more extreme though. I'm curious about it, but it'd probably even more encourage hyper-specialization. That's one of those 'I want to figure out how to make this work' rather than 'this seems like a good idea' things. Seems closer to functional with the skill system (you could just allow investing up to 6 points in a skill at chargen rather than 4, give classes more skill points in general to soften the impact of points from Int, and its probably okay) than it is with to-hit/AC/saves/DCs of spells. I suppose you could do something where Str/Dex only modify damage rolls and never to-hit rolls, keep effectively the same Max Dex armors currently have, and have to-hit only get modified by BAB, enchanted weapons, and buffs.
    Last edited by NichG; 2023-08-26 at 04:23 PM.

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    Default Re: Why Modifiers?

    Having a number and a derived number makes a difference in presentation and visual impact.


    Having Strength 18 vs. Strength 10 seems bigger than Strength +4 vs. Strength +0.


    D&D uses that a little, but (for example) Champions uses that more: a super-strong PC might have Strength 50, which I think seems significantly more impressive than Strength +8 (ordinary human is strength 8-10). (but it uses a 3d6 system, so +8 is actually a pretty big modifier)

    (and, to be clear, Strength 50 is enough to pick up an elephant, this is supposed to be an impressive number)


    Further in said system, Strength 50 is 50 points worth of Strength; if you want 10 more, you spend 10 more points on Strength.



    One could also make it a +50 modifier to checks, but that would basically require going from a 3d6 system to either 3d6*5 (super-mathy) or abandoning the bell curve and rolling d-percentiles, to get to the same end point.


    (I feel this example is worth pointing out because it shows this kind of model isn't just a D&D thing, and because the extreme case shows some of the effects you can get)

  25. - Top - End - #55
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    gatorized's Avatar

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    Default Re: Why Modifiers?

    Roll N dice, N = your rank in the related trait.
    Each die showing X or higher is a success.
    Target number is either an opposed roll or threshold set by GM.

  26. - Top - End - #56
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why Modifiers?

    "Why modifiers?" depends on what those modifiers are used for and how they work.

    D&D had been talked to death, so let me talk about Praedor instead. Like D&D, Praedor had six abilities with 3 to 18 range. It is a roll under system, where starting value of any skill is half of an ability's value. There are also some derived values and modifiers for carrying capacity, blood points, deep wound threshold, damage and other parts of the system that do not roll by rolling under. For example, damage is just an added value that goes up and is substracted from blood points; blood points are a resource that goes up and down; damage is compared to deep wound threshold and results over that value cause deep wounds; carrying capacity is in real weight units and so needs a multiplier to derive from ability. These additional parts do not neatly reduce to the base roll under system and removing the loses functionality.

  27. - Top - End - #57
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    Default Re: Why Modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Also tracking fractional modifiers sounds like a huge pain in the ass. Dice produce whole numbers, stuff that interacts with dice should be done in whole numbers.
    Or maybe not actually using fractional modifiers then, but changing where things get rounded. As written everything gets rounded down at least twice, possibly much more if the character is multiclass (the base bonuses and the stat bonuses all get seperately rounded) but I think they should be added together first and then rounded once at the end so that you don't get multiclass characters with weird stats
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  28. - Top - End - #58
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why Modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Or maybe not actually using fractional modifiers then, but changing where things get rounded. As written everything gets rounded down at least twice, possibly much more if the character is multiclass (the base bonuses and the stat bonuses all get seperately rounded) but I think they should be added together first and then rounded once at the end so that you don't get multiclass characters with weird stats
    I think the game should probably just not do open multi-classing, on account of that producing a whole bevvy of balance issues, beyond just "numbers can get weird".

  29. - Top - End - #59
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    Default Re: Why Modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I think the game should probably just not do open multi-classing, on account of that producing a whole bevvy of balance issues, beyond just "numbers can get weird".
    None of those balance issues come anywhere near to the balance issues of single classed wizards, druids, or clerics.

  30. - Top - End - #60
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why Modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by gatorized View Post
    None of those balance issues come anywhere near to the balance issues of single classed wizards, druids, or clerics.
    The only real class-level issue with the full casters is that the Druid and the Cleric learning all the spells from their class automatically is stupid. The majority of the problems are with the spells, not the classes. planar binding is exactly as broken whether you are getting it as a Wizard, a Sorcerer, or a Dread Necromancer. In fact, it would be colossally more broken if it worked like a Fighter's feats and taking it meant you could just use it as much as you wanted.

    Conversely, Rogue 3/Wizard 3/Cleric 3/Druid 3 is almost unplayable in a 12th level adventure, which is massively more of an issue than the vast majority of Wizards, who are simply going to cast combat spells like acid fog or flesh to stone that are entirely unobjectionable from a power-level perspective. And, worse, it's much less clear how you're going to fix it, because here the problem actually is with trying to stitch together four 3rd level characters into a 12th level character, not simply specific abilities (and it gets even worse if you start letting classes have unique mechanics for their powers).

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