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Trailblazer Houserules

joela

Villager
As I continue to go over my TB print edition, a plethora of ideas explodes from my mind for an upcoming one-shot. They include:

Clerics get additional uses for Turn/Rebuke Undead depending on their domain choices. The domain of Healing, for example, allows the healing of living beings within range while the domain of War grants attack and damage bonuses.

At 5th level, druids have to choose if they want Wild Shape or continue with spell-casting. They cannot have both.

Fighters get two Combat Reactions at BAB +0, +6, +11, and +16 instead of the standard one. They also get Armor Training starting at 3rd level per The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook.

Wizards, at first level, gets to chose either bonus spell slots as per the sorcerer (which doesn't exist my game) or the standard bonus readied wizard spell. Once they've determined their choice, they cannot reverse it.

What houserule's are y'all considering/working on?
 
Well, one thing that I am considering is NOT giving the full sorceror/wizard spell list out to the arcane casters as it is written. It's a big boost in versatility and to me it just doesn't feel right. I'm going to build a few casters with the rules to see how it works out before implementing. It's a flavor thing to me, though.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
Well, one thing that I am considering is NOT giving the full sorceror/wizard spell list out to the arcane casters as it is written. It's a big boost in versatility and to me it just doesn't feel right.
You've been acclimated to think it doesn't feel right.

I encourage you to explore it, but from a balance perspective, "versatility" is a non-issue with the RAW. Wizards are limited only by their funds, which quickly translates into "not at all." Both wizards (and even sorcerers) already had all the versatility they needed through scrolls.

Let's pose the question another way. Are clerics and druids balanced by virtue of the fact that they have access to all the spells on their list?

If you answer yes-- what happens when you add another rulebook full of spells to your game. They get access to all of those, too. Are the cleric and druid now broken? (Note that we're not talking about individual spells which may or may not be broken-- your sense is that the class is balanced when it has a list of 100 spells to choose from but somehow it "doesn't feel right" if they have 200 to choose from.)

Everyone simply accepts the premise that the cleric and druid are balanced, and part of that play balance is what spells they choose every day. If you want to argue that the wizard spell list is so staggeringly superior to the cleric spell list (with regards to their problem-solving versatility) then I could certainly use the spell-by-spell comparisons to show why this is so.

What matters to a spellcaster is what spells they have readied (prepared) at the moment they are tested.

Again, you've been acclimated to think it's an issue, but the distinction has no basis in mechanical balance whatsoever.

And you can ignore every word I wrote above if it just comes down to a flavor issue for you! :)

(But I don't do "flavor balance." That's not clean design.)
 
You've been acclimated to think it doesn't feel right.
And you can ignore every word I wrote above if it just comes down to a flavor issue for you! :)

(But I don't do "flavor balance." That's not clean design.)
Yes, I should have elaborated on that. It is totally a flavor issue for me. The wizard thing has been to maintain a spellbook and collect or research spells as part of either downtime or adventures. It's one of those divine vs. arcane issues as I see it. As you said, the funds quickly make it a non-issue assuming that the players can obtain spells they want, and I agree that adding splats increases versatility vs. spellbook based characters in RAW. When I said it was a big boost to versatility, I totally forgot there was the readied spells and spell slots, so it is really just a flavor issue. Thanks for the perspective!
 
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GlassJaw

Explorer
Clerics get additional uses for Turn/Rebuke Undead depending on their domain choices. The domain of Healing, for example, allows the healing of living beings within range while the domain of War grants attack and damage bonuses.
Cool ideas. I know we'll definitely include a turning damage variant in the Players' Option book.

At 5th level, druids have to choose if they want Wild Shape or continue with spell-casting. They cannot have both.
Be careful with this. I'm playing a druid right now and I'm convinced that we got the balance down pretty good.

The interesting thing we found with the druid's spell list is that it has a lot of restricted spells. That means a druid won't get a good chunk of them back with a 10-minute rest (unless he spends an AP). That's not insignificant.

I'm really enjoying Wild Shape, especially hybrid form, and I'm doing everything I can to break it. I even took a level of barbarian and often use rage + hybrid form but I still lag behind the fighter/barbarian. The druid doesn't have the BAB and feat slots needed to complete in damage output. The druid also has a larger demand on his ability scores and has to distribute them more evenly instead of loading up on strength.

Basically we are finding that the druid is a great support class. It can do a lot of things - melee, cast, heal, scout - but isn't going to eclipse any of the classes that are dedicated to a specific role. And that's exactly what we wanted.

Fighters get two Combat Reactions at BAB +0, +6, +11, and +16 instead of the standard one. They also get Armor Training starting at 3rd level per The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook.
That's a lot of reactions. Be prepared to have your fighters dodging every attack that comes their way.

I do like the Armor Training though. Wulf and I discussed (at length) giving fighters an Expert Armor Proficiency chain like we did for weapons. We could never really felt it was a strong ability though. Maybe we'll revisit it for the Players' Option book.

Wizards, at first level, gets to chose either bonus spell slots as per the sorcerer (which doesn't exist my game) or the standard bonus readied wizard spell. Once they've determined their choice, they cannot reverse it.
That's ok I guess if you don't allow sorcs. I know I would be making a specialist wizard with bonus spell slots though.
 

joela

Villager
Cool ideas. I know we'll definitely include a turning damage variant in the Players' Option book.



Be careful with this. I'm playing a druid right now and I'm convinced that we got the balance down pretty good.

The interesting thing we found with the druid's spell list is that it has a lot of restricted spells. That means a druid won't get a good chunk of them back with a 10-minute rest (unless he spends an AP). That's not insignificant.

I'm really enjoying Wild Shape, especially hybrid form, and I'm doing everything I can to break it. I even took a level of barbarian and often use rage + hybrid form but I still lag behind the fighter/barbarian. The druid doesn't have the BAB and feat slots needed to complete in damage output. The druid also has a larger demand on his ability scores and has to distribute them more evenly instead of loading up on strength.

Basically we are finding that the druid is a great support class. It can do a lot of things - melee, cast, heal, scout - but isn't going to eclipse any of the classes that are dedicated to a specific role. And that's exactly what we wanted.



That's a lot of reactions. Be prepared to have your fighters dodging every attack that comes their way.

I do like the Armor Training though. Wulf and I discussed (at length) giving fighters an Expert Armor Proficiency chain like we did for weapons. We could never really felt it was a strong ability though. Maybe we'll revisit it for the Players' Option book.



That's ok I guess if you don't allow sorcs. I know I would be making a specialist wizard with bonus spell slots though.
Thanks for the replies, Glassjaw. I'll let you know how the houserules turn out in practice.
 

joela

Villager
Autocrit

Fighters (and only fighters) don't need to confirm their crits. Additional effect of saving APs :D

EDIT: On second thought, maybe not. I can imagine folks multi-classing / dipping into fighter just for that ability alone.
 
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ValhallaGH

Villager
Fighters (and only fighters) don't need to confirm their crits. Additional effect of saving APs :D

EDIT: On second thought, maybe not. I can imagine folks multi-classing / dipping into fighter just for that ability alone.
Yeah, this is the sort of house rule that you make into a campaign feature, where all the PCs have it. Maybe monsters and NPCs have to confirm, maybe not (depends upon how you want to keep PC turn-over down).*


One other houserule I'm contemplating is giving all PCs the Bound Item action point enhancement. It's insanely good, as written, and I'm tempted to remove the selection tax of acquiring it.


*Thanks, by the way. I'd been considering this for a while, with mixed feelings, but hadn't stumbled upon making it PC-only until I replied to your post. The many mysterious sources of inspiration.
 

joela

Villager
confirm

*Thanks, by the way. I'd been considering this for a while, with mixed feelings, but hadn't stumbled upon making it PC-only until I replied to your post. The many mysterious sources of inspiration.
No problem. And thanks for the source stuff. I'll check them out.

Another option for the fighter gets auto crit as class feature is to make it available at higher levels (6th?). That, or has to use one of his/her combat reactions. So many options...!
 

Fenris

Villager
No problem. And thanks for the source stuff. I'll check them out.

Another option for the fighter gets auto crit as class feature is to make it available at higher levels (6th?). That, or has to use one of his/her combat reactions. So many options...!

You can always make it per rest for the fighter. So that once per rest he can auto-confirm. Maybe at higher levels he gets more. That way it isn't EVERY crit, but the fighter and only the fighter gets a freebie to free up APs while it not being way too much. And if you make it pegged at say 3rd level that will keep people from dipping in for it, but give it early enough that dedicated fighters can use it.
 

joela

Villager
you can always make it per rest for the fighter. So that once per rest he can auto-confirm. Maybe at higher levels he gets more. That way it isn't every crit, but the fighter and only the fighter gets a freebie to free up aps while it not being way too much. And if you make it pegged at say 3rd level that will keep people from dipping in for it, but give it early enough that dedicated fighters can use it.
+1.
 
I was inspired to go compare with the Pathfinder's fighter's 20th-level weapon mastery.

"At 20th level, a fighter chooses one wepaon, . . . . Any attacks made with that weapon automatically confirm all critical threats and have their damage multiplier increased by 1 . . . . In addition, he cannot be disarmed while wielding a weapon of this type."​

Makes me think about how the things Expert Weapon Proficiency is themed around. "Choose one weapon", damage multiplier increased for it.

How about as a way of not cluttering of the table more, implement it as part of the options for Expert Weapon Proficiency, which effectively makes it 3rd level minimum, consider the consequences of also allowing it to be taken more than once with a Fighter's EWP. Doing it as Fenris suggested, auto confirm 1/rest.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
I have mixed feelings about autocrits.

I don't think it's a bad mechanic or unbalanced per se but it does seem to be a bit of overdesign.

A fighter already has a lot of options to augment his crits: Improved Critical, Power Critical feats, and Expert Weapon Prof being the primary sources.

But more importantly, an auto-crit mechanic would definitely give the fighter a boost in the action point department. In our 2+ years or playtesting and developing Trailblazer, auto-confirming crits was probably the biggest use of Action Points, especially for the melee characters.

So an fighter-only auto-crit mechanic would essentially be giving the fighter more APs. Not saying that's a bad thing but I'd probably want to see it in play for a while before I made a final decision.

Powering up the melee classes and powering down the spellcasters has always been a goal for any 3ed revision. While TB does give the melee classes a boost in class features, Action Points, especially in the hands of the DM, are an important balancing factor.

The DM can use APs to counter a spellcaster's save-or-die spells, which reigns in their power. An auto-crit mechanic for fighters means that the DM has one less way to reduce the PCs APs.

It might not be evident on paper but the AP balance is critical to the balance and style of TB.
 
Here's a house rule I was considering for the paladin.

I am a bit bored, so I 'm building a table comparing Pathfinder classes with their Trailblazer counterpart, ability by ability.

I was looking at the Pathfinder paladin's smite and my eyes sort of bugged out reading that it lasts until the target dies. Traditional smite was for a single attack.

Now, traditionally you would save that smite for the important encounter for that day's adventure. One swing, and if you missed, you shot your cool power and got a buzzkill.

Looks like Pathfinder's fix for it was to let you keep that smite bonus going until that important foe dies. Use it again and again and again. Battles being short (2-3 rounds), that may just be a few swings instead of just one. But still, every attack until target dies even AoOs!

Trailblazer changes the iterative attacks so that no character is getting more than 1 extra attack on a full attack (excluding monk's flurrying). But I was thinking of a way to get the TB paladin up to speed with more than a single normal attack. TB's renewed smite mitigates wasting the smite with a miss, so the TB paladin could just swing again until the smite strikes.

All that prelude to say I'm thinking of having for the TB paladin's 7th level divine weapon ability to also grant the imbued weapon the ability to smite with each attack until the paladin's next turn. If all smites miss, renewed smite kicks in and the smite is not expended. If one smite hits but the other(s) miss, renewed smites considers the smite used. If both smites miss, but the paladin successfully smites with a triggered AoO before his next turn, renewed smite considers the smite used.

Would allow the paladin to potentially get up to two smites on a full attack. Not nearly as crazy smite again and again until target dies.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
All that prelude to say I'm thinking of having for the TB paladin's 7th level divine weapon ability to also grant the imbued weapon the ability to smite with each attack until the paladin's next turn. If all smites miss, renewed smite kicks in and the smite is not expended. If one smite hits but the other(s) miss, renewed smites considers the smite used. If both smites miss, but the paladin successfully smites with a triggered AoO before his next turn, renewed smite considers the smite used.

Would allow the paladin to potentially get up to two smites on a full attack. Not nearly as crazy smite again and again until target dies.
You'd get nearly the same effect if you just double the number of smites the TB paladin gets from 7th level up, with a lot less bookkeeping.

The PF version is a lot more like rage-- only thematically, you kind of have to tie it to the "duration" of the enemy, rather than the encounter. I don't have a problem with their implementation either (off the top of my head). It would have to be balanced in the context of the rest of the abilities. But my eyes aren't bugging out.

I also don't have a problem with the 3.5 version either-- you just have to think of smite as "a cool little bonus sometimes" as opposed to "this is a major class feature and my class is balanced around it." The only problem with the 3.5 smite is managing the expectation of the player.
 
You'd get nearly the same effect if you just double the number of smites the TB paladin gets from 7th level up, with a lot less bookkeeping.
What I was hoping to accomplish was simply have smite go on every attack until the next round. Also simple bookkeeping, but renewed smite got in the way so I thought I had to account for it. Let me know if I'm missing something glaring. :)
The PF version is a lot more like rage-- only thematically, you kind of have to tie it to the "duration" of the enemy, rather than the encounter. I don't have a problem with their implementation either (off the top of my head). It would have to be balanced in the context of the rest of the abilities. But my eyes aren't bugging out.
I was comparing them side by side. Here is what I saw and felt like evening things out in disparity. My "eyes bugged out" when I compared the effect and duration together. Seems like a serious power-up in comparison.

Effect:
  • Pathfinder smite, Cha to attack and level to damage. Extra damage if evil subtype, evil dragon, or undead. Also Cha to AC as deflection. Also, autobypass all target DR. Special: 11th level, expend 2 smites to grant paladin's smite evil effect to all allies within 10 feet for 1 minute. Special: 20th level, smites subject evil outsiders to banishment.
  • Trailblazer smite, Cha to attack and level to damage.
Comment: Pathfinder smite seriously powered up the smite's effect. Trailblazer's action points can come in to play to add a bit of oomph when needed though.

Duration:
  • Pathfinder smite, every attack against target until target dies.
  • Trailblazer smite, single normal attack.
Comment: Pathfinder lets the smite just go and go and go. Every single attack until dead is simpler bookkeeping of a sort, doesn't wear off with misses. Renewed smite brings parity for the Trailblazer smite so that it doesn't wear off on a miss, but still single attack. Again Trailblazer's action points can help out if a miss occurs before, or a used smite is needed again if APs are left.

Frequency:
  • Pathfinder smite, 1/day with +1/day every three levels. Though smite effect doesn't end until target dies.
  • Trailblazer smite, 1/rest with +1/rest every 5 levels.
Comment: Pathfinder gets +1/... faster than Trailblazer's paladin, and initially that may seem like Pathfinder smite can be used more per combat, but again TB's action points can bring parity here. Trailblazer smite can end up going even further on frequency if the DM offers frequent rests which renew the smites.

I know all this is not he be all and end all of the paladin. Here are some areas where I found other differences.
  • Trailblazer gives more skill points per level, and with no cross class cost to skills other skills are cheaper to get. TB's Persuasion includes bluffing.
  • Trailblazer opened up to four alignments for paladin. (not an ability boost here, just cool).
  • Trailblazer adds tower shield to list of proficiencies.
  • Trailblazer's unified spell chart means paladin's can cast spells a bit earlier than PF, ready a couple spells more at many levels, and at 19th and 20th levels cast 5th level spells. Drawing from the cleric spell list adds many many more spells to select from.
  • There was significant overlap between Trailblazer's divine mercy and Pathfinder's mercy ability, yet each could do something the other couldn't.
  • Pathfinder paladin chooses either the special mount or imbues his weapon. Trailblazer imbues the weapon, losing the special mount class feature all together.
  • Pathfinder paladin doesn't turn undead but channels either healing to living creatures or damage to undead, but drains lay on hands usage to do it.
  • Pathfinder paladin has increasingly better aura's some granting DR/evil and extra immunities (11th charm/17th compulsion)
Trailblazer steps above the paladin with skills and spells (<- nothing to sneeze at!), and action points bring hard to quantify extra oomph occasionally.
Pathfinder has more immunities, grants DR, area effect healing bursts, and a boosted smite that does more damage to common smite targets, bypasses target DR, gains deflection to AC, and doesn't run out until target dies.

I just felt that smiting could bring a bit of a boost to the TB's smite in comparison.

You know, going through all the classes comparing them with each other, I think I've arrived an insight at some design choices to class power.

Pathfinder was informed by the 3.x power curve in books (like Complete Champion, the devils and demons monster books) at the final days of 3.x, and brought every 3.x class up to meet the power curve from those books.
Trailblazer was informed by the 3.x power curve in the core rules, and evened out the classes between each other mostly by bringing up the underpowered classes and bringing down the spellcasting classes.
 

joela

Villager
You know, going through all the classes comparing them with each other, I think I've arrived an insight at some design choices to class power.

Pathfinder was informed by the 3.x power curve in books (like Complete Champion, the devils and demons monster books) at the final days of 3.x, and brought every 3.x class up to meet the power curve from those books.
Trailblazer was informed by the 3.x power curve in the core rules, and evened out the classes between each other mostly by bringing up the underpowered classes and bringing down the spellcasting classes.
That's pretty much summarizes my understanding as well. Also, the Pathfinder classes have been bolstered so there's less inclination to multi-class and take on prestige classes (especially if one wants the capstone abilities) while TB encourages multi-classing (especially spellcasters, which, due to the unified magic table, still retain some decent spellcasting capabilities even if multi-classing into a non-casting class like fighter, rogue, etc.)
 
Contemplating the possibilities of house rules, I was trying to come up with the areas that are ripe for house rule expansions (rather than mixing and patching). It seems like there are a two areas of Trailblazer taylor made for house rule expanding. Particularly,

Action Point Enhancements: Coming up with new action point capstones and the path of action point enhancements that lead up to it . . . sometimes it feels like this could offer the potential of taking the concept far down the road into a direction like kits or 4e themes. . . surely that's way beyond the design intent, but role of prestige classes morphed beyond Monte's orginal purpose too. :devil:

Combat Exploits: There are just three attack and two defense exploits. Surely more could be crafted . . . While I have put zero thought behind it, I wonder if there could be any room for spellcasting exploits? Hmm.

Combat Reaction: I love the ability to do more things when it isn't your turn. Anyone think there could be more combat reactions invented? Even if they are far too specialized and edge-situation in use, I'd love to see a long laundry list of more choices.
 

jedavis

Villager
Combat Reaction: I love the ability to do more things when it isn't your turn. Anyone think there could be more combat reactions invented? Even if they are far too specialized and edge-situation in use, I'd love to see a long laundry list of more choices.
I kind of agree with you. On the one hand, keeping the list of reactions short means that people can actually remember most of them and what they do without looking things up, which is good. On the other hand, there are things (namely Counterspelling) that would make awesome sense as reactions. Personally, I think the best thing to do would be to build more feats like Mounted Combat that make some other function available as a reaction - that way, the people who really want a certain function as a reaction can have it for a price without bogging down the list for everyone else.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
Few things, in no particular order:

Counterspelling - Wulf and I (and others in this forum) discussed making counterspelling a reaction. The problem with counterspelling is that it's fairly weak as written but becomes way too powerful as a reaction. Because of that, we left it as-is. There's always a chance we would come back to it, maybe in the magic book.

Combat Exploits - There are more in Mythic Heroes (Wulf's original mythic enhancement pdf). A few other d20 books had them as well. Iron Heroes comes to mind. We pared down the list to what we felt was the most essential and most balanced.

Combat Reactions - The only other reaction we discussed I believe is counterspelling. We wanted to keep reactions fairly generic because it's a system that every character uses.

Action Point Enhancements - This is definitely ripe for expansion, as is the AP system in general. Again, Mythic Heroes might have a few variations on some of the enhancements that we didn't use. We also didn't include any feats that augment what you can do with APs. We were saving those for the Players' Option book...;)
 

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