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Design Space

I was looking through Trailblazer last night and thinking about the disparity of attacks/damage between the TWF fighter and other melee fighters. While I recognize that this partially a design decision and that TWF fighters pay for their increased attacks/damage with a reduction in versatility I was thinking that other melee fighters need a little boost. Rapid Shot came to mind as a model for designing a feat to help out non-TWF fighters. Here is the initial draft of the feat:

Rapid Strikes
Your familiarity with your weaponry allows you to make an additional melee attack per round

Prerequisites: Str 13, Weapon Focus with one weapon

Benefit: When wielding a two-handed weapon or a one-handed weapon with nothing in your off-hand and using the full attack action you can make an additional attack per round. All your attack rolls take -2 penalty when using Rapid Strikes

I'm looking for feedback. Let me know if you think the prerequisites need to be toughened or if I'm crazy for even suggesting this.
 

ValhallaGH

Villager
Grr. Stupid post ate all my math.
  • Rapid shot is brokenly good.
  • TWF has the same average damage per round as using a two-handed weapon.
  • This feat is too good. If you use a single melee weapon then you will want this feat. That's a sign of being too good.
  • It would stack with a Monk's flurry ability.
  • Great ax barbarian, with whirling frenzy and Rapid Strikes, equals most melee damage EVAR!.

Good luck.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
Basically what Valhalla said.

I usually judge a feat with one simple question:

"Would I always take this feat if playing a <insert class here>?"

For a melee character, the answer is definitely "yes" with regards to this feat.

I understand where you're coming from though Kestrel. When looking at a fighter's damage, you have to take into account Power Attack and Cleave. Those feats are essential. Wulf and I actually considered giving the fighter those feats for free.

Note that we scaled back the number of extra attacks you get with TWF. At most, you will get 2 extra attacks, and you need a pretty heavy feat investment to reduce the penalties.

And don't forget Improved Shield Bash! I always hated how bashing with a shield required the TWF feats. I really like our version. Definitely makes sword & board fighters more viable.
 
Drat! I was afraid it might be too good for the given prerequisites, much less too good overall. So the next question is giving non-TWF combatants a third attack over-powered or is it who has access to the feat? I was originally thinking of adding weapon specialization part of the prerequisites and thus restricting it to fighters only. Any thoughts on that change?
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
Rapid shot is brokenly good.
Ehh... I think it's ok. Are there a lot of broken archer builds on char op forums? There's no question it's awesome at low levels and almost all the way through the typical "sweet spot" play. Power Attack will eventually outstrip it.

TWF has the same average damage per round as using a two-handed weapon.
TB has changed that math. But it should be a lot harder to get a great DEX&STR build than it is to get a great STR-only build. TB characters simply should not have access to the same kind of magic item customization as the 3e default. Nip those crazy builds in the bud at the DM level.

This feat is too good. If you use a single melee weapon then you will want this feat. That's a sign of being too good.
Definitely true. As GlassJaw noted as well, Power Attack is not only "too good" but it's also damn near indispensable if you want your fighter to maintain any kind of parity at high levels.

It would stack with a Monk's flurry ability.
Well, that's easily handled. You can write that fix into the feat.

Great ax barbarian, with whirling frenzy and Rapid Strikes, equals most melee damage EVAR!.
Also true. My concern with the feat isn't that you'll see Barbarians dishing out huge amounts of damage. I want to see Barbarians dishing out huge amounts of damage.

As in, "That's ok, egghead, you save that disintegrate for later, I'll drop this sucker the old fashioned way."

That would be a design feature.

Note well the Attack Exploits on TB page 103. At one time, indeed, I had included a "bonus attack" exploit that was patterned after Rapid Strike; in fact my earlier work Mythic Heroes may still include that one. I do tend to think it's too good. In the end we added one instead that mimics Cleave, which in the long run is a lot more important to game balance (for reasons related to Lanchester, the principle of concentrated fire, and the economy of actions).

Remember that as you go up in Level/CR, the fighters will usually start hitting their foes more often, to the point of a foregone conclusion. The game really moves away from the drama of, "Will you hit or not?" to the drama of, "Why won't this thing die already?" and "If we don't kill this thing right now, it's going to use its breath weapon/gaze/spells/instant-death ability again!"

So backing up to TWF. It's definitely better than 3e TWF, which was already in an inferior position to THF in 3e. TB gives TWF a serious boost, and if you're not doing other things to curtail the ability for players to make super twinky builds, it can be broken. I would not, for example, make it easy for the TWF player to customize his weapons, add two different stat boosters (STR and DEX), customize the best armor for his build (mithril breastplate for example) and so on.

You can wipe out most of the crazy char op builds by sensibly restoring the power to the DM, which, by the way, Trailblazer recommends on page 1.

My parting question for Black Kestrel is: Why do you want to give the other fighters a third attack? What problem, specifically, are you trying to fix?
 
My biggest concern is that at high-level fighters won't keep up in damage. I'm not convinced that at higher levels fighters will be able to use Cleave or the Cleave-like exploit often enough due to the sheer number of hit points most high CR monsters have. Mind you I haven't had a chance to play TB yet and won't until July at the earliest. I understand that THF and TWF are the "DPS" builds for fighters but I want to make certain finesse fighters and other offensive builds are viable as well.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
My biggest concern is that at high-level fighters won't keep up in damage.
Keep up with whom or what?

Fighters (specifically Fighters, the class) will benefit greatly from Expert Weapon Proficiency, Power Attack, and Action Points.

I'm not convinced that at higher levels fighters will be able to use Cleave or the Cleave-like exploit often enough due to the sheer number of hit points most high CR monsters have.
The importance of Cleave is to ensure that the fighter doesn't waste his attack action dropping a near-dead foe. It doesn't matter how many hit points the foe starts with-- what matters is that the fighter doesn't "overkill" his target and waste his action. Cleave addresses this.

(Great Cleave, on the other hand, is a much more optional feat, and requires much more situational awareness to get its full benefit. The concern you outline above is much better suited to criticizing Great Cleave, but not Cleave.)

Mind you I haven't had a chance to play TB yet and won't until July at the earliest. I understand that THF and TWF are the "DPS" builds for fighters but I want to make certain finesse fighters and other offensive builds are viable as well.
Well... but viable for what? Must all builds be viable DPS builds?

Build your fighter (or ranger, barb, or paladin, or even rogue) for a specific role: dealing damage, soaking damage (hp/DR), avoiding damage (high AC), special attacks, ranged attacks, etc. All of these roles are viable and moreso in TB-- especially if you are using the AP Enhancements; nevertheless you may not be able to cover all roles with a single build, nor are all builds suitable for all roles.

As the easiest example, "Sword and Board" is a "viable build" but it's specifically not a DPS build.
 
Keep up with whom or what?

Fighters (specifically Fighters, the class) will benefit greatly from Expert Weapon Proficiency, Power Attack, and Action Points.
Sneak-attacking rogues & centered monks come to mind. I agree that Expert Weapon Proficiency will greatly help fighters of all stripes. Who wouldn't like an 18-20 threat range, x4 crit multiplier, increased damage by 1-3 die sizes and Improved Critical?


The importance of Cleave is to ensure that the fighter doesn't waste his attack action dropping a near-dead foe. It doesn't matter how many hit points the foe starts with-- what matters is that the fighter doesn't "overkill" his target and waste his action. Cleave addresses this.

(Great Cleave, on the other hand, is a much more optional feat, and requires much more situational awareness to get its full benefit. The concern you outline above is much better suited to criticizing Great Cleave, but not Cleave.)
OK, I understand why Glassjaw said Cleave was critical now. Concern withdrawn.

Well... but viable for what? Must all builds be viable DPS builds?

Build your fighter (or ranger, barb, or paladin, or even rogue) for a specific role: dealing damage, soaking damage (hp/DR), avoiding damage (high AC), special attacks, ranged attacks, etc. All of these roles are viable and moreso in TB-- especially if you are using the AP Enhancements; nevertheless you may not be able to cover all roles with a single build, nor are all builds suitable for all roles.

As the easiest example, "Sword and Board" is a "viable build" but it's specifically not a DPS build.
I agree that not every fighter (or other melee/ranged class) should be the best damage dealer in the world. I'm looking to increase the viability of damage dealing builds beyond TWF, THF and Ranged (whether bow or thrown), primarily for fighters. I agreed that Sword & Board is a viable hybrid build of damage/defense, but it gets a third attack (at a higher penalty than Rapid Strikes, but offset by keeping the defensive benefits of a shield) by taking a feat as can any ranged build.

The precedent is there for an additional attack at penalty, the design space is open, the real question is whether it should be filled? The answer looks like yes to me, but I admit that just because it looks good and sounds reasonable it won't turn into an unmitigated nightmare that I'll regret for the rest of a campaign. I'm not wedded to implementing Rapid Strikes as written or at all in my game which is why I'm posting it here for feedback.

After we finish talking through Rapid Strikes I'll be posting a revised Spell Mastery feat (the old one gets renamed to Spell Knowledge) that may drive you absolutely crazy.
 
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ValhallaGH

Villager
Ehh... I think it's ok.
Some of my reaction is leftovers from my time with Iron Heroes. When a single ranged attack is doing 1d8+4d6+18 (18-20, x4) at level 12 and you're getting four shots per full attack (plus rapid shot), RS gets a wee bit insane. And it's worse when most of your foes are melee, and you're picking them off from 600+ feet (free attacks for about 5 rounds).

Still, it's an amazingly good feat, one of the strongest in the game, and the only thing that keeps it in check is the general weakness of ranged combat (and the high feat threshold of that style).
TB has changed that math.
Actually, I was using TB for my (lost and lamented) calculations. :D The real difference is in the action economy. Two TWF attacks is generally as damaging as one THF attack, so the 2 / 4 ratio full attack is pretty spot on. (Kudos!)
Now, the 2 / 6 ratio is a bit wonky, but Whirling Frenzy is the strongest of the rages, and when you haste one of those guys .....
Still, tons of melee damage isn't the end of the world. It's nasty but not insurmountable. I just don't like how Whirling is so much a better option than the Sturdy Rage. [/nit pick]

The Black Kestrel said:
My biggest concern is that at high-level fighters won't keep up in damage. I'm not convinced that at higher levels fighters will be able to use Cleave or the Cleave-like exploit often enough due to the sheer number of hit points most high CR monsters have. Mind you I haven't had a chance to play TB yet and won't until July at the earliest. I understand that THF and TWF are the "DPS" builds for fighters but I want to make certain finesse fighters and other offensive builds are viable as well.
My experience with TB (up to fifth level, so far) is that all builds are pretty darn viable. The halfling Sword & Board fighter started pretty weak, but just hit her stride as one of the murder-machines (and has long been the hardest to kill).
Damage was spotty (except the great ax barbarian) until level four. Now, everyone is killing most of the time. Of course, three of my players were novices and they've learned quite a bit about being more effective in a straight combat.
For Reference: Halfling S&B fighter, half-elf TWF rogue, half-orc THF barbarian (deceased), half-orc TWF barbarian (double ax), human cleric (St. Cuthbert - replaced the dead barbarian).
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
Kestrel it sounds like you have a good handle on it (especially if you take the good advice from Valhalla as well). I'd be confident playing under any fixes you implement in your game.
 
Improving Spell Mastery

Spell Mastery is a rarely taken feat that only applies to wizards, few of which take it. By integrating the rest mechanic into the feat instead of the ready mechanic we make the feat more useful and appealing to all spellcasters. The current Spell Mastery feat is renamed to Spell Knowledge. I want to give casters a way to partially customize thier rote and restricted spell lists without tossing the whole rest mechanic on its head.

Option One:

SPELL MASTERY [SPECIAL]
Prerequisite: Caster level 1st.
Benefit: Each time you take this feat, choose a number of spells equal to your primary spellcasting attribute's modifier that you already know and are restricted or ritual spells. Restricted spells you select are now rote spells for the purposes of what spells are regained during the 10-minute rest period. Ritual spells you select are now restricted spells for the purposes of what spells are regained during the 10-minute rest period. You cannot select the same spell twice when you acquire this feat. If you want to change a ritual spell to a rote spell you must take this feat twice and select the same spell with both times. Selecting a rote spell has no further effect. Your DM may not allow this feat to affect certain spells. Check with your DM when choosing the spells effected by this feat.
Normal: Without this feat, you cannot change the designation of a spell for the purposes of the 10-minute rest period.
Special: You can select this feat multiple times, you can select the same spell up to twice with this feat.

Option Two:

SPELL MASTERY [SPECIAL]
Prerequisite: Caster level 1st.
Benefit: Each time you take this feat, choose a number of spells equal to your primary spellcasting attribute's modifier that you already know and are restricted or ritual spells. Restricted spells you select are now rote spells for the purposes of what spells are regained during the 10-minute rest period. Ritual spells you select are now restricted spells for the purposes of what spells are regained during the 10-minute rest period. Your DM may not allow this feat to affect certain spells. Check with your DM when choosing the spells effected by this feat.
Normal: Without this feat, you cannot change the designation of a spell for the purposes of the 10-minute rest period.
Special: You can select this feat multiple times, each time you select it apply the effect to a different group of spells.

As usual comments are appreciated.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
"Ritual" is a meta-game definition.

The only reason that spells are classified as Ritual is if the DM wants to strictly control their use. There's therefore no reason, ever, to allow a player a mechanical workaround for Ritual spells.

"Taxing" the player a feat is simply not going to achieve the desired objective for which the DM classifies a spell as a Ritual in the first place. If you're ok with such a spell being Restricted then just don't make it a Ritual to begin with.

Restricted spells are more of a class balance issue. They are Restricted in order to force the spellcaster to occasionally take more linear (and therefore sub-optimal) spells, which in turn puts the spellcaster back onto a more even footing with the linear power progession of the non-casting classes.

This is a bit of a no-brainer feat, and I suspect you'll very quickly see the same Restricted spells moving over to the Rote list.

I personally wouldn't allow this feat, but with respect to Restricted spells, at least you're not crossing that meta-game line.
 

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