DrSpunj's Class Balance Spreadsheet
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  1. #1

    Acolyte (Lvl 2)



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    DrSpunj's Class Balance Spreadsheet

    [EDIT: Much of the system has changed thanks to the comments in this thread, but the underlying system is essentially the same. For the latest downloads go to post #199! Thanks!]

    In this thread we've been discussing a variant fighter, and talking about whether he deserves a "dead level" at every odd level beyond 1st.

    Because of that very question I started working on a spreadsheet a couple months ago that assigns values to each of the various class attributes that I've chosen to use in an upcoming campaign I hope to start midsummer. I did this to try and discover whether a Bonus Combat Feat really is so powerful that getting one more often than every even level would unbalance the character.

    The attributes are:
    • HD - d6, d8, d10 (a d12 is easy to add)
    • BAB - Poor, Average, Good (using fractional bonuses from UA)
    • Defense Bonus - Poor, Average, Good, similar to the UA variant
    • Fort/Refl/Will Saves - Poor, Average, Good, again using fractions from UA
    • Skill Points/lvl - 4, 6, or 8 per lvl
    • Weapon Group Proficiencies - as per the UA variant
    • Armor Group Proficiencies - extrapolated from the UA Weapon variant
    • Special Class Abilities - General vs Combat
    • Magic - either Half or Full caster levels, as per Monte's AU Magic system
    • Restrictions - like a Cleric's devotion to their deity, Druid's reverence for Nature, an Oathsworn's Oath and a Paladin's Code
    The system is 'Feat driven", and by that I mean I've categorized all Special Class abilities as either General or Combat feats, and valued them accordingly. While this does require a minor bit of tweaking with some abilities, it's not nearly as much work as I expected it might be. For instance, Bardic Lore gets a +1 for every Bard level. Since +1 didn't seem like enough of a bump, I changed the General Feat to give a +2 bonus with the limitation it can only be taken no more often than every other level.

    Because the values of each of these class attributes, as well as the various Special Class Abilities, are very "user-dependent", I've setup the spreadsheet so anyone can easily change the values of everything to something more to their liking in a small table at the top of the spreadsheet. Then all 20 class levels for all the Core & AU base classes are recalculated using the new values. It's easy to compare the relative worth of each class, at each level, using the totals and averages (that are computed for each class over 20 levels, all classes at 1st level, and all classes over all 20 levels).

    I've already sent this out to a small number of people this weekend, at their request. SSquirrel has been kind enough to offer it for download from his website here.

    I'd be interested in any feedback, criticism or comments people have regarding the spreadsheet, whether it's because they've found an error, think the spreadsheet would function better in some other way, and/or have a differing viewpoint on how the various class attributes should be valued than what I've started with.

    Thanks!

    DrSpunj
    Last edited by DrSpunj; Wednesday, 7th September, 2005 at 03:08 AM. Reason: Updating Post # & Page for most current files!

  2. #2

    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

    John Q. Mayhem's Avatar

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    Just wanted to say I got the spreadsheet, thanks. Looks nice.

  3. #3

    Acolyte (Lvl 2)



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    Is John the only one that's looked at this?

    Could be, but I'm hoping to get some comments, feedback and/or criticism from many of you. Please chime in!

    ***BUMP***

    Thanks.

    DrSpunj

    EDIT: I just downloaded the version SSquirrel has hosted, and it seems a few font/formatting errors slipped in somehow. A couple of the text boxes are no longer big enough to view all the text, but by selecting the cell you can read all the text. Second, the Averages Cells at the top of both calculation sheets I needed to reformat to a Font Size of ~14-18 to see the numbers & text correctly. Go figure.
    Last edited by DrSpunj; Tuesday, 6th April, 2004 at 02:55 PM.

  4. #4
    I've had a looksee at it, pretty impressive! Is your intent with this as a worksheet to figure out appropriate characteristics for each class, then use what you've gained from that to produce a word document that would apply to your campaign?

    I also see that you could easily use this as the basis for a "design your own class" document, where you give all these options and say that it must equal xx CBs.. that could be interesting.. (the final result would still need vetting by you since there'd be DM interpretation about how much a particular unlisted ability would be in CBs, but it would mean more distinctiveness than is present now).

    Some comments about the document itself:
    1) Definitely add d12 HP to the chart

    2) Consider adding a "blank" character class region where you can put various values in to experiment with (and exclude it from the average value calcs), so that it's easier to compare with other classes.

    3) On the Intro page, it's unclear what the values "0+0.33" , "1.2+0.4", "2+0.5" mean. For instance, for average saves, do you add 1.2 or 0.4? Also, in the Unearthed Arcane, there's four classes of defense bonuses, yet you only list three categories. So you might want to split defense bonuses off, I personally find it a bit confusing.

    4) What's the rationale for using defense bonuses in the first place? From a quick read of the UA, it will tend to devalue the use of armor. Is this your intent? One disappointing thing I do have with how armor changed from 2e to 3e is that there's not usually much benefit to wearing the heavier armors unless you have a really low dex. Though giving DR rating to armor would help with that. I also note that Exotic armors help too, though at the cost of a feat.

    Good work!

  5. #5

    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

    CRGreathouse's Avatar

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    I got the spreadsheet, but I haven't had much time to look it over. It looks good at the first glance.

    I should have more constructive thoughts once I'm not so busy -- in a few days, I hope?

    Edit: Videssian, I think "1.2+0.4" means that the save bonus is 1.2 + 0.4 * level. Level 1 gets +1, level 5 gets +3, and level 20 gets +9.
    Last edited by CRGreathouse; Tuesday, 6th April, 2004 at 07:37 PM.

  6. #6

    Novice (Lvl 1)



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    The more things change...

    Nice work, DrSpunj. This chart is definitely meant to be used as a step-off point to either make new and balanced classes, or to make point-based classless characters, level-by-level. And a lot looks similar to the much earlier work you did on classless character building.


    Videssian, to address some of your comments:
    1) I agree, add d12

    2) I agree, that would be invaluable for new class-building, or classless experiments.

    3) CRGreathouse has got it. The "0+0.33" values, et al, seem to be the coefficients of a linear progression. Start at first level with "0", and add 0.33 to your save at 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. levels, rounding up at 0.5 and above.

    EDIT: I see DrSpunj's explanation is that you always round down, but add in the 0.33 immediately at 1st level. Though this gives the exact same results for all three categories, it is more consistent with 3E's "always round down" rule.

    4) (I dunno what a defense bonus is.)

    Which brings me to a few comments of my own:
    - Good work, Spunj! It looks like you worked out a lot of the earlier kinks, and extended the scope and useability of the chart remarkably.

    - Being in an archaic 3E campaign, myself, I don't know what a defense bonus is. Quick explanation?

    - Along the same lines, I can guess in general terms what the Weapon Group Variant is about, but where can I find specifics?

    - I haven't tried any tweaking, yet, but was the general idea when assigning these values to find out how much should be assigned to each class to have them come out being worth the same, or were these values previously arrived at by Monte or some other person/thread?

    This last I ask because I don't think the main beef -- the fighter being undervalued unless feats are added -- is a real beef if, say, hit dice or BAB were worth more, or the fighter somehow pays for his proficiencies at each level he uses them. (Or barring that, the fighter buys a few more weapons and armor at higher levels, once he can financially afford them.)

    But hey, with the spreadsheet as versatile as it is, that's not even a real issue! I can just assign my own experimental values until I find something that works for me!
    Last edited by ouini; Tuesday, 6th April, 2004 at 08:58 PM.

  7. #7

    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

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    Quote Originally Posted by ouini
    - Being in an archaic 3E campaign, myself, I don't know what a defense bonus is. Quick explanation?
    It's not a part of 3.5. It's a class-based feature that adds to AC.

    Quote Originally Posted by ouini
    - Along the same lines, I can guess in general terms what the Weapon Group Variant is about, but where can I find specifics?
    Unearthed Arcana (3.5)

  8. #8
    It's not a part of 3.5. It's a class-based feature that adds to AC.
    If I understand it correctly, it only sometimes adds to AC.. the rationale being that it is largely treated like armor (it's an armor bonus), in that it doesn't stack with armor.

  9. #9

    Acolyte (Lvl 2)



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    My clinic is underway for this afternoon, so I'll answer a few of these now and see what others I can get to later today.

    Quote Originally Posted by Videssian
    I've had a looksee at it, pretty impressive! Is your intent with this as a worksheet to figure out appropriate characteristics for each class, then use what you've gained from that to produce a word document that would apply to your campaign?

    I also see that you could easily use this as the basis for a "design your own class" document, where you give all these options and say that it must equal xx CBs.. that could be interesting.. (the final result would still need vetting by you since there'd be DM interpretation about how much a particular unlisted ability would be in CBs, but it would mean more distinctiveness than is present now).
    Some of both. It started out working with ouini as a classless generation system, but we couldn't get some major flaws worked out. Once Monte released AU and addressed some of them, and UA came out and addressed most of the others, it didn't really take all that long for me to pull everything together into a workable form.

    Quote Originally Posted by Videssian
    1) Definitely add d12 HP to the chart
    Umm, that was me being lazy.

    Every other category (except maybe Weapon Prof groups) broke down easily into 3 groups. BAB/Defense/Saves/Magic are all Low, Medium & High. After getting the d6, d8 & d10 in there I ran out of room for the d12! It's not overly difficult to add, but I only wanted to do it if I really found this useful. Well, I have, so I'll probably go back and add it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Videssian
    2) Consider adding a "blank" character class region where you can put various values in to experiment with (and exclude it from the average value calcs), so that it's easier to compare with other classes.
    Ooo! That's good! Consider it on the list!

    Quote Originally Posted by Videssian
    3) On the Intro page, it's unclear what the values "0+0.33" , "1.2+0.4", "2+0.5" mean. For instance, for average saves, do you add 1.2 or 0.4? Also, in the Unearthed Arcane, there's four classes of defense bonuses, yet you only list three categories. So you might want to split defense bonuses off, I personally find it a bit confusing.
    CRG has it correct (and ouini almost does). The formulas for Poor & Good I believe generate exactly the proper save bonuses for levels 1 through 20 in the PHB. The Medium path (from +1 to +9) is a tad different than Monte's offering in AU (which starts at +0, which I didn't like) and is, in fact, identical to that used in WoT. @Ouini: You don't round up for 0.5, you always round fractions down. So at 1st level with a Good save you get +2 as a base, then add (1*0.5 =) 0.5 for a total bonus at level 1 of +2.5. That rounds down to +2, which is exactly what you get in the PHB for a Good save. At 2nd level you get another 0.5 making your total +3, again the same as the PHB.

    @VidessianThe Defense bonus I want to use is NOT exactly like the UA version. It's closer to the variation found in WoT. I can see where others may want a different set of Defense bonuses (whether it's those from UA or some other source) but I originally created this for me to use personally. It was only after I had already hard-coded most of the sheet that I realized it may be useful for others but they may have very different ideas about some things, so I went back and added quite a bit of versatility (or tried to). That said, I'm not looking to make money of this and am not going to spend a great deal of my limited time making it perfect for everyone else. I will use the d12 and will use the blank character section you mentioned so I'll be adding those next.

    Quote Originally Posted by Videssian
    4) What's the rationale for using defense bonuses in the first place? From a quick read of the UA, it will tend to devalue the use of armor. Is this your intent? One disappointing thing I do have with how armor changed from 2e to 3e is that there's not usually much benefit to wearing the heavier armors unless you have a really low dex. Though giving DR rating to armor would help with that. I also note that Exotic armors help too, though at the cost of a feat.
    I personally like the idea of higher level characters being better at avoiding blows because of their improved abilities, and not just because they have a bunch of magical stuff. I first saw this option in the d20 system in WoT and liked it immediately. There, Defense does not stack with Armor Bonus, you get one or the other. The only exception are the Armsman (essentially Fighters). Since they are trained at letting their Armor absorb the blow, they don't dodge as well. Because of that they get the lowest Defense bonus available. However, they get a special class ability at level ?3? called Armor Compatibility that allows them to stack their Defense bonus with their Armor bonus, because they're trained to use them together.

    I'm still deciding which UA variants aside from Defense bonus to use. I like the Armor as DR variant and a couple of the others. IMC currently Medium Armor doesn't reduce your Base Speed, just your Run speed, so more people actually find Medium armor appealing (after all, in the Core rules you go from a Chain Shirt with a +4 to a Breastplate with a +5, whoop-dee-frickin'-doo! Why drop your base speed for a measly +1?!?). To compensate for that change I gave all Heavy Armors a DR of 1/-, which people have enjoyed.

    As for the campaign this summer, I'm still trying to figure out what I'd like to run with, and also trying to imagine what my players are willing to try out variant-wise. We'll see.

    Quote Originally Posted by Videssian
    Good work!
    Thanks!

  10. #10

    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)



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    Personally I'm a pretty big fan of Monte's wider variety of armor in AU. Leather Coat is great! +4AC -2 Check Penalty 10% Spell Failure No speed loss.

    Naturaly Spunj, when you make an update, email it to me and I'll post it.

    Oh and for those interested in another house rule thread on this board, I'll be using Ken Hood's Revised Ggrim N Gritty rules in the AU campaign I'm starting next month heh. So long as my players don't revolt between now and then.

    Hagen

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