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The Nerfing of the Bladesinger

Remus Lupin

Adventurer
When I rolled up my 1st Level Elven Wizard for a Forgotten Realms campaign two years ago, I didn't really think of him as epitomizing the Wizard/Warrior archetype. But when I realized that he was an Armor Class king, I decided to give him levels in fighter and work toward the Bladesinger PrC.

At the time, I was working from the Tome & Blood version of the Bladesinger, which was quite a nice PrC, once you located the corrected version on Wotc's website. I liked that PrC for two basic reasons: Applying your Int modifier to your AC (which helped my AC king become that much harder to hit), and Song of Celerity, which allows you to cast a bladesinger spell every round as a free action.

So, when Races of Ferune came out, I turned to the appendix to check out their new version of the Bladesinger. It was even better. Not only did it allow you to specialize in either longsword or rapier, it made song of celerity even more powerful, since it allowed you to cast any one-action spell as a free action per round, not just Bladesinger Spells.

Now, with Complete Warrior, they have a new version of the Bladesinger. At first, I thought it was a real improvment over the earlier versions, because instead of adding a seperate spell list, it added +1 caster level every other level. But upon further examination, I realized that this new version made the Bladesinger weaker in three important regards:

First, Bladesong Style no longer added your intelligence modifier to your AC, but instead, added +1 to your AC/level up to your Int. Modifier. Thus, my 20 Int elf doesn't get +5 to his AC until 5th level.

Second, Song of Celerity is radically altered, so that it is no longer one spell/round as a free action, but only one spell/day as a free action. It can either be up to a 2nd or up to a 4th level spell, depending on your level, but it's radically weaker than before.

Third, and finally, by making the spellcasting ability +1/caster level lever other level, it changes my Bladsinger, whose independent spell list was quite powerful, into, essentially, a 5th level wizard, with access to only 3rd level spells. Now, on the one hand, that gives him more diversity of spells to cast, but on the other hand, it detracts from his very specialized role as combat caster.

So, here's my question: What do people think about this? Was the Bladesinger, in either its T&B or its RoF incarnation, really too powerful? Does the new incarnation make it too weak? I'd love to get feedback. In addition, how do you handle it when you've got three versions of the same prestige class floating around in official Wotc books?
 

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xenoflare

First Post
hmm

hi!

i guess this is just from my experience as an observer, because i hadn't really got any bladesinger playing experience in 3e and later.

i think the staggering and delaying of the AC bonus is to prevent "creative multiclassing" from various classes, both base and prestige, to engineer the AC monsters that players can whip up haha. Now, instead of just taking one level of bladesinger to dump my high Int mod into AC, i have to actually take a commitment to the class, therefore preventing a repeat of the "cherry-picking of classes" phenomenon. For example, if we were to give full int mod to AC at level 1, suppose some player made a level 10 character - a half-elf monk 2/ cleric 3/ psychic warrior 2/ mystic wanderer 1/ wizard 2/ bladesinger 1, he could easily get a very high unarmored AC that includes his full dexterity, wisdom, charisma, and intelligence modifiers to AC, together with access to Inertial Armor as a psi PC and Shield of Faith etc as a divine caster. And if you add in the various buff spells, that's easily 4 more buffs to your AC!

This is an extremely rare hypothetical situation - but indeed it can be done, and i guess that's why the int bonus got staggered to prevent system abuse at higher multiclass levels. i know the "pure" bladesinger probably got shafted in this agreement, but hey - if you can convince your DM you won't pull a super monty haul chop suey kway chap mixture of classes and prestige classes on him, and will stay focused on the bladesong path, i suppose negotiations can come out with something favourable for you.

About Song of Celerity - well, i think the Web Enhancement one was good, on the high end of good, in fact, but the Races of Faerun was quite whacked out, IMHO - it seems to be incredibly powerful and versatile. The Complete Warrior's version seems to be ok, but on the low end of the scale - in a rather arbitrary fashion, i think maybe an increased use/day of the Song of Celerity would be warranted, maybe at level 6? or maybe you could argue for both the level 2 spell and level 4 spell quickening-uses of Song of Celerty to be usable once per day each? That'll make the class feature a lil' more balanced, in my opinion.

Lastly, about the focus of the class, i think the design philosophy went thru a bit of change here and there. In Ad&d, the bladesinger kit was basically one of the more powerful ones around (but hey, kits were hardly balanced at all those days. i was a patrician - gee, i have extra gp to spend, but i must spend it on feeding other nobles and housing them. another guy, the bladesinger gets extra AC or attack bonuses. what's the rule of thumb to balance them out with one another?)

But in 3e, where people try to make an attempt to make classes more balanced with each other, i guess the bladesinger stopped being a pure "fighter/ wizard". now you can progress into a bladesinger from a bard, or a hexblade, or a weird PrC that gives arcane spells, or progress into bladesinging from being a spellsword samurai or whatever. The shift to spell progression by level rather than separate spell list reflects the system's emphasis on letting your character define the class style, rather than vice versa - ie, a hexblade who takes bladesinger would be a different kettle of fish from a bard/ barbarian/ bladesinger, who would be different from a rogue/ wizard/ bladesinger.

i know this is little consolation to you, my fighter/ wizard friend, in this new world of strange new neighbours on the bladesinging block, but i hope it helped anyway.

and by the way, happy new year, in a rather late way!

yours sincerely,
shao
 

Cbas10

First Post
Remus Lupin said:
First, Bladesong Style no longer added your intelligence modifier to your AC, but instead, added +1 to your AC/level up to your Int. Modifier. Thus, my 20 Int elf doesn't get +5 to his AC until 5th level.

I actually really like this. Front-loading a bunch of crap in the first level or two of a class made the concept of advancing in a certain clas or two pointless.

Second, Song of Celerity is radically altered, so that it is no longer one spell/round as a free action, but only one spell/day as a free action. It can either be up to a 2nd or up to a 4th level spell, depending on your level, but it's radically weaker than before.

I'm not sure what the Bladesinger from RoF looked like, but I agree that there should be a bit more to this ability. Maybe something like an additional use at 6th, 8th, and 10th levels. I would also say that one could not use Song of Fury and Song of Celerity in the same round.

Third, and finally, by making the spellcasting ability +1/caster level lever other level, it changes my Bladsinger, whose independent spell list was quite powerful, into, essentially, a 5th level wizard, with access to only 3rd level spells. Now, on the one hand, that gives him more diversity of spells to cast, but on the other hand, it detracts from his very specialized role as combat caster.

I strongly favor this version of spellcasting advancement. It more accurately represents the character's dual focus and blend of swordsmanship and sorcery; he is not developing NEW magical skills, merely building upon what he already has. In my opinion and games, only base classes get unique spell lists, and prestige classes always build upon the classes that got them into the prestige class.

In addition, how do you handle it when you've got three versions of the same prestige class floating around in official Wotc books?

It would really depend on how I felt the various rules fit within my game. I would generally allow the player to keep the version he started with, but I would give him the option of "switching over" unless too many prerequisites changed. In that case, I would just say something in the setting allowed/caused two versions of the same concept to sprout. For example, if the 1 free quickened spell/round is an accurate statement regarding the RoF version, I most definitely would have stayed with the older TaB version, pretending the RoF version "did not exist."
 

Shard O'Glase

First Post
Remus Lupin said:
.

So, here's my question: What do people think about this? Was the Bladesinger, in either its T&B or its RoF incarnation, really too powerful? Does the new incarnation make it too weak? I'd love to get feedback. In addition, how do you handle it when you've got three versions of the same prestige class floating around in official Wotc books?

Yes the bladesinger in its T&B after web enhancement and in RoF was too good. Int boost to AC, full fighter BAB d8 hp, and some spells, and a few bonus feats. This guy without buffs equalled the fighter in a fight, had a better skill list, and got a decent assortment of spells to boot, oh and he could cast them as a free action.

So yes he was overpowered. Now the complete warrior may have gone too far with making the free action thing once a day and the other changes. In fact I think they did go to far and this prestige class is a bit weak.
 

Vocenoctum

First Post
Remus Lupin said:
In addition, how do you handle it when you've got three versions of the same prestige class floating around in official Wotc books?

There's only one "official" version, but that doesn't really matter. It's whichever version your DM wants you to use. The web version was an erratta to the T&B one, but in a way, so are the next two.

Are you already a bladesinger? I don't think it fair to only change to the newest version when it's more powerful. :)
But really, it's whatever you can convince the DM to allow. unlimited quickened spells seems a bit much though, as I'm sure everyone would agree.
 

Remus Lupin

Adventurer
Well, I am already a bladesinger, using the RoF version of the class. Since we haven't switched to 3.5, I don't imagine that my DM will try to impose that version on me, but I was curious about the design thinking that went into the changes.

On the one hand, I agree that the bladesinger is "too good" in a sense. That's wny I wanted to play him. :) But on the other hand, he's very specialized, and thus what he gets in terms of combat prowess (with the spellcasting supplement), he loses in terms of ability to branch out into new areas.

Now, when my bladsinger maxes out on bladesinger levels (at level 16), he could conceivably take 4 new levels of Wizard, or 4 levels of Fighter, or some combination thereof, which woudl "re-diversify" him a little bit. But the concept remains quite narrow.

On the subject of "class cherry-picking". I see the concern, but it seems such a rare type of munchkinism that it doesn't make sense to re-engineer a class to account for it.

Frankly, I'd take the caster level change if I could keep my Bladesong Style and Song of Celerity, since to my mind those are the two "very cool" elements of the class.
 

7thlvlDM

Explorer
I agree, quite disappointing

I totally agree about the new bladesinger: quite disappointing. It seems to me that every improvement WotC makes is accompanied by a step back.

IMO, the old bladesinger was much better because it filled a unique role. He was a warrior with the unique ability to fire off combat enhancing spells as his sword clanged against his enemy's. Now he's no more unique than any other fighter/wizard. I can tolerate his intelligence bonus to AC being capped by his level, if they felt it was necessary for balance. But the Song of Celerity was what really defined him. It shouldn't have been nerfed, and the bladesinger shouldn't have been given breadth in his spell selection. That's what the Spellsword and Eldritch Knight are for.

-7thlvlDM
 

Remus Lupin

Adventurer
This guy without buffs equalled the fighter in a fight, had a better skill list, and got a decent assortment of spells to boot, oh and he could cast them as a free action.

I'm not sure I agree with your comparison to the fighter. Consider: A Wizard 2/Fighter 4 Bladesinger 6 has a BAB of 10, I believe, compared to a 12th level fighter's BAB of 12. Additionally, a 12th level fighter has gotten access to a number of bonus feats by 12th level to give him a distinct niche advantage over a bladesinger in terms of combat ability.

Similarly, take the same bladesinger and compare him to a 12th level Wizard. He gets 1st level Wizard spells, 4th level bladesinger spells, whereas the 12th level wizard has access to 6th level Wizard spells. So, your wizard can beat the tar out of my bladesinger by simply taking to the air and launching fireballs at him.

The Bladesinger's Song of Celerity gave him one really good thing that he could do in very specialized situation. I think it's a shame that they downgraded it.

That said, I'm sure we're going to be sticking with the RoF Bladesinger.
 

Darkness

Hand and Eye of Piratecat [Moderator]
Remus Lupin said:
A Wizard 2/Fighter 4 Bladesinger 6 has a BAB of 10, I believe, compared to a 12th level fighter's BAB of 12.
Close; it's +11 (the only level this character doesn't get a point of BAB is the Wiz1 one). :)

Oh, and I'll move this to Rules.
 
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Squire James

First Post
Personally, the only change I'd make to the new Bladesinger is to increase the Celerity uses/day every 2 levels after gaining the ability. Everything else is either an improvement or a "lateral transfer" in my opinion.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
re

I like the new Bladesinger. It is closer to the flavor of the old 2nd edition version of the class. The fact that they give you a Quickened Spell even once per day is an improvement over the 2nd edition version. The versatility gained with five more levels of Wizard casting will make the class more powerful at high level. The new Bladesinger also better simulates the Bladesingers portrayed in WotC novels. I definitely like the new Bladesinger best.
 

Ranger REG

Explorer
I agree, one of the few good things (actually less than a handful) about The Complete Warrior is the revision of the Bladesinger prestige class. I like the gradual AC increase, which is akin to the 3.5e Duelist prestige class, for the same reason mentioned above (front-loading). I also like the benefit it offers in increasing the level of existing spellcasting class.

As for the song of celerity, I think it is too restrictive. Of course, I don't want it to be too lax as RoF version, so increase it to level 3 spells and level 6 spells maximum.

You do that and you get the real adaptation of the original 2nd edition version.

Otherwise, if you're happy with the RoF version, use it. I personally won't.
 

Ridley's Cohort

First Post
Remus Lupin said:
On the subject of "class cherry-picking". I see the concern, but it seems such a rare type of munchkinism that it doesn't make sense to re-engineer a class to account for it.

Couldn't disagree more. You can see for yourself that a number of 3.5 core classes were re-engineered to tone down the frontloading. IMHO frontloading is a huge problem in 3.0, made worse by the introduction of PrCs. It is still a minor problem in 3.5.
 

Remus Lupin

Adventurer
Couldn't disagree more. You can see for yourself that a number of 3.5 core classes were re-engineered to tone down the frontloading. IMHO frontloading is a huge problem in 3.0, made worse by the introduction of PrCs. It is still a minor problem in 3.5.

Well, the Ranger is the example that leaps right to my mind as an example of 3.0 frontloading. But it seems to me that the problem there was less the cool skills that you got at 1st level than the absence of anything particularly cool at subsequent levels. I can't think of other classes for which that was such a big problem.

It is clear that the prestige classes in 3.5 are more designed to avoid that. So, maybe it's a bigger problem than I realized, but I still think it's a mistake to reengineer a class to account for the proportion that abuse it. abusus non tollit uses
 

Darklone

Registered User
Hmm. I really dislike the new Complete Warrior classes with spellcasting progression in the first level and full BAB. You are often better of to take a combination of EK, Spellsword and Bladesinger instead of one of them... and the DM has to look after it. Poor.

In this case.... I don't see why the Bladesinger should be weak. He can Quicken one spell without increasing the spell level? That's weak, even if limited? Not in my games.
 

Ranger REG

Explorer
I disagree. When you use any one of the metamagic feats to enhance the spell, it cost a higher spell level slot, with no change to the spell's itself, except the benefit of metamagic. To offer Quicken for free makes it easier to pay for other metamagic feat(s) with lesser higher spell level slot than you would normally if you HAVE to pay for Quicken.
 

James McMurray

First Post
I too dislike the classes that grant spellcasting, BAB, and special abilities all at first level. In my campaign I'll be delaying caster level increase until the second level of the class, that way it isn't a no brainer to take the classes as a sorceer, and an almost no brainer to take them as a wizard.
 

Epinephrine

First Post
Well, to be fair, the prerequisites are probably too steep for either of the +1 BAB, +1 caster level classes to be no-brainers if you're just a pure spellcaster. Spellsword requires martial weapon and all armor proficiencies, which is a lot of feats for a character who doesn't want to lose a caster level, and bladesinger requires a race, a number of probably cross-class skills, and four feats, two of which (Combat Expertise and Weapon Focus) are pretty useless to the devoted spellslinger.

That said, I do think that combining the spellslinging warrior prestige classes with each other is a bit more powerful than it should be. If you already have even a single level in fighter, perhaps for eldritch knight or some such, there's no reason not to take the first level of spellsword, especially when you throw in the 10% spell failure reduction.

Back on topic though, the new bladesinger looks a bit on the weak end of balanced to me, though certainly still viable, so I don't see allowing the cheesy dip into spellsword to be too unbalancing. The eldritch knight has that balance-aiding bonus feat instead of spellcasting at 1st level, and the bladesinger has steep enough prerequisites that it probably isn't worth it to just dabble in it.
 

pawsplay

First Post
I'll go so far as to say the Bladesinger is a compensation for a necessarily sub-optimal advancement path. It's a fighter-mage with required skills that are not class skills for Fighters or Wizards. Swashbucklers have some of the right skills, but don't get bonus Feats. Rogues, likewise. While it is possible to enter Bladesinger as early as a 7th level character, it's usually better to wait, either to load up either magic or BAB, or to dip into other PrC's.
 

LordAO

First Post
Now that the Bladesinger gets +1 Caster Level/2 Class Levels, I must ask the obvious. Why doesn't the Arcane Archer get any spell advancement?
 

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