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[Weekend Design] New Classes?

Kaskus

Villager
New / late to the discussion. I have been catching up on all the trailblazer stuff and i have to say great job. I actually signed up just to reply to this thread. I had a thought for a name for your arcane wild full caster. How about Witch Doctor? I just thought a tribal sort of feel was fitting to mesh arcane with wild.

Keep up the good work.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
New / late to the discussion. I have been catching up on all the trailblazer stuff and i have to say great job. I actually signed up just to reply to this thread. I had a thought for a name for your arcane wild full caster. How about Witch Doctor? I just thought a tribal sort of feel was fitting to mesh arcane with wild.

Keep up the good work.
Welcome-- and thanks!
 

Sylrae

Villager
The witch doctor would be cool, the tricky part would be figuring out what to give him for abilities to make him different than a a druid or a cleric or a sorcerer.

As for the Bard slightly sucking, it's because the bard is a skill-based character, like the rogue was in 3e, more than it is a full caster.

And, since as you pointed out in the 3.5e Houserules forum (before I realized ENworld had all these nifty hosted forums...), Skills are not nearly as useful in 3.5e as is (They are often a way to avoid consequences, not a way to do things), the Bard and Rogue suffer for it.

You've turned the rogue into a full-on melee class, in the hit hard but don't get hit back, kind of way. Which is cool, considering 3.53/PFRPG don't make skills do enough.
But with your change, the swashbuckler is just a slight flavor change on the rogue. They're a rogue with different abilities, sure, but they're not really a that much more of a fighter than a rogue. I thought it was a tad ridiculous to give a swashbuckler a d10 in Complete Warrior, but a bunch of their things were not as good as they could have been.

For a Swashbuckler (A niche I much like) > Really should be a monk/rogue type, but with different gear limits; having low HD (d6), full BAB, precise strike/flurry, no more than light armor for class abilities, some kind of AC bonus, Good Reflex, and I'd say will before Fort, but it would depend, they're close to even probabilities. In my game I'd probably use medium progressions on FORT and WILL, but most people don't have Medium Progressions or use Fractional saves (I've seen fractional BAB before).

The Bard, should really be a full caster. Don't beef up his combat abilities, that just seems silly.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
The witch doctor would be cool, the tricky part would be figuring out what to give him for abilities to make him different than a a druid or a cleric or a sorcerer.
I've started laying some groundwork for the witch class. Wulf and I have had some preliminary discussions and I'm really liking how it's shaping up so far.

The Bard, should really be a full caster. Don't beef up his combat abilities, that just seems silly.
I tend to agree. Wulf and I have talked about whether giving the bard full caster progression would make him too powerful but I don't think so. The big limiter for the bard is that using bardic music requires an action and casting a spell requires an action.

Making the bard a full caster also helps the round-out the "skill-based" tree (and opens the door for a Trickster/half-bard caster class).

Wulf and I have also discussed what I call an "Influential" tree, with a full caster at the top, the bard in the middle as a half-caster, and something like the Marshal or Warlord at the bottom as a non-caster.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
The problem, is that the bard simply isnt as good as the Ranger, Paladin, or spellblade.
If you mean by making him a half-caster, I agree. You would certainly have to give him a significant boost.

Which is why it's easier to leave him as-is and make him a full caster.

Doing that would also get rid of the annoying 2/3 caster progression.
 

Sylrae

Villager
Agreed on that one. The bard could make a decent full caster.

I dunno if wulf will agree with me, but the issue I see with the Bard and Rogue is this:

The Bard and Rogue are not mainly designed as a spellcaster and a backstabber, they're the skill character, and the half-skill, half-caster character. (Whereas Paladins and rangers are half-melee half caster).

However, skills are not as good as they should be, so These two characters get the short end of the stick, particularly the bard.

But if you're going to beef up the class in the other areas, they should be getting a smaller number of skill points.

At least that's my thought on the matter. I like your take on the rogue with crazy backstabbing skills. But I think he needs his skill points dropped to 4/lv.

If you make the Bard a full caster, he should probably get a skill drop, and maybe a HD drop too to put him in the other direction. Because the skills need to be balanced in there somehow, even if they aren't as good as Wizards made them out to be.

My two cents.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
I dunno if wulf will agree with me, but the issue I see with the Bard and Rogue is this: The Bard and Rogue are not mainly designed as a spellcaster and a backstabber, they're the skill character.
Take the rules-as-written (no changes to any skills), give the Rogue a skill bonus in every single skill equal to his level +3, and he still under-performs.

He can tumble, he can bluff, he can spot search and listen, find traps, charm the pants off the king, intimidate the ogre champion, climb jump and swim like an Olympic athlete, and use any magic item the party comes across.

None of this is gonna impress a pack of ghouls.

Skills just don't move the needle much when it comes to Challenge Rating, and an overwhelming portion of the game revolves around combat.

Conversely, if the game throws the balance farther towards skill challenges, then it's kind of irrelevant what your BAB and HD are.

As the sliding scale of "Combat" approaches 1.00, the value of skills approaches 0; as the sliding scale of "Combat" approaches 0, the value of BAB and HD approaches 0, and perhaps the value of skills shoots up instead.
 

Sylrae

Villager
Take the rules-as-written (no changes to any skills), give the Rogue a skill bonus in every single skill equal to his level +3, and he still under-performs.
Depends on playstyle, but assuming lots of combat, yep. I wasn't saying that designing the Bard and rogue as skill characters worked out, i was just saying that is how they were designed. I'd argue that it didn't work out. Great, they're awesome skill monkeys, but skill monkeying doesn't affect gameplay as much as it should.

He can tumble, he can bluff, he can spot search and listen, find traps, charm the pants off the king, intimidate the ogre champion, climb jump and swim like an Olympic athlete, and use any magic item the party comes across.
Yep.

None of this is gonna impress a pack of ghouls.
Well, the tumble ranks give you an AC bonus eventually. lol. Some of the skills might be good at helping you run away from said ghouls. But I agree, skills are not as good as they should be.

Skills just don't move the needle much when it comes to Challenge Rating, and an overwhelming portion of the game revolves around combat.
Quite true. I'd argue that they should. they should be considerably more useful in combat scenarios. They should let you do crazy stunts, and let you act like a ninja. Or a swashbuckler. You should be able to use your skills to make combat work out more in your favor.

Conversely, if the game throws the balance farther towards skill challenges, then it's kind of irrelevant what your BAB and HD are.
Depends how much more towards skills it is. And not every skill check will be "check or die", som will be "check or damage".

As the sliding scale of "Combat" approaches 1.00, the value of skills approaches 0; as the sliding scale of "Combat" approaches 0, the value of BAB and HD approaches 0, and perhaps the value of skills shoots up instead.
I agree with this one wholeheartedly. Ok, most-heartedly. Skills can make a difference in combat, but you're right, its not a very big difference. If your games are about a 50/50 blend of combat/noncombat(mine are around there), the skills ae useful, but still dont seem to be quite useful enough (though definitely more useful than your posts seem to indicate in your playstyle).

So, I'd say yeah. Make the Rogue and Bard have other abilities instead, but I'd still drop the skills around the level of other characters, because a full caster with 6+int skills is better than a full caster without. Albeit, not by a large margin, but still better. (Unless they lose most of the interesting class abilities, and thats no fun.)

Another fix, would be to work on the skill system.

If skills were more generally useful, a skillbased character could be good in combat if he chose, or he could spend his skills elsewhere. Personally I think that would be a better fix, but the other one will still work.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
Let's see if you guys can settle a quick disagreement between GlassJaw and myself:

1) Should the bard have the full spellcasting progression or a one-half spellcasting progression?

2) Based on your decision regarding the above point, do you consider it merely reinforcing the class as the bard has been historically understood; or a change to the bard, as something that needs to happen?

3) What is the bard? Is he a spellcaster with some fighting ability, or a fighting class with some spellcasting ability?
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Let's see if you guys can settle a quick disagreement between GlassJaw and myself:

1) Should the bard have the full spellcasting progression or a one-half spellcasting progression?
One-half spellcasting progression. If he can cast up to 9th-level spells like a wizard or sorcerer, and has a better BAB and more class abilities, why would anyone ever want to play either of the latter two classes?

2) Based on your decision regarding the above point, do you consider it merely reinforcing the class as the bard has been historically understood; or a change to the bard, as something that needs to happen?
I think keeping the bard to one-half spellcasting progression reinforces how the bard has always been understood; he was never meant to be a strict alternative to a fully-fledged spellcaster - rather, bards were meant to be generalist utility characters.

3) What is the bard? Is he a spellcaster with some fighting ability, or a fighting class with some spellcasting ability?
To me, a fighting class with some spellcasting ability, as well as some other abilities to round that out. He's the guy who has a little bit of everything, and so always has something for whenever the specialists are out of their element.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
Bard as a half-caster = booo!! ;)

Ben and I just had another class discussion. Our consensus was "stupid bard" because we are still unsure where it fits in the grand scheme of things. Heh.
 

ValhallaGH

Villager
Ben and I just had another class discussion. Our consensus was "stupid bard" because we are still unsure where it fits in the grand scheme of things. Heh.
You're not the only ones.

I was really, really, really tempted to bump the bard up to full BAB and leave him at 2/3 casting for my games. While they've got a wealth of awesome features, what they have doesn't synergize. As such, bards suck in a fight. Period. Which is totally unfun and generally untrue to the source material.

To be true to their roots, bards either need to be able to beat booty in a fight or be okay in a fight and back it up with powerful-enough magics that they can be as much of a big-damn-hero as the Fighter, Rogue, Cleric, Druid, Wizard, or other classes.
The 3.X Bard does not do that. At all.
Like the Monk only more so, he's got so many special features that people assume he's capable, but the features don't have any synergy, which means a Bard isn't relying upon his entire class to be cool; he's relying upon one class feature at a time to be cool. No one that I'm aware of ever designed a 3.x class feature that would make a character a big-damn-hero all by itself because of the assumption that it would be terribly broken in the context of a full class (and it probably would be). The problem is, the Bard as-written is the class context that makes such an ability balanced, because the ability would be used essentially outside the context of the rest of the class.
Interestingly, the 4E Bard does make you a big-damn-hero, and from the stories I've heard so did the 2E Bard. Might be worth looking at for some direction or at least inspiration.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
Like the Monk only more so, he's got so many special features that people assume he's capable, but the features don't have any synergy, which means a Bard isn't relying upon his entire class to be cool; he's relying upon one class feature at a time to be cool.
Completely agreed. And it's why I would prefer the bard to be a full caster.

Of all the classes, the bard suffers the most from the "economy of actions" problem. His main class abilities all require actions to use, and so do his spells. The bard almost has too many things he can do, but none of which define him as a class.

On top of that, the majority of his abilities aren't empowering for the player. Sure it's great to give everyone in the party a +1 bonus but the player doesn't get the same feeling that the fighter or wizard does laying the smack down on the bad guys.

Bear in mind that this is coming from someone that doesn't mind taking the backseat in the party and playing the buffbot. I found the bard a bit lacking. There were many times where I felt very underwhelmed by the options the bard offered to the party. This usually ended with me shrugging my shoulders and saying "Ok, I guess I use my bard song. +1's for everyone".

So giving the bard a full caster progression will at least give him more spellcasting options. It's also the path of least resistance as far as class design goes.

It doesn't address the bard being a lackluster class in general or his economy of actions problem. Ben and I have talked about making the "influential" abilities auras that the bard can select and change more frequently.

Interestingly, the 4E Bard does make you a big-damn-hero, and from the stories I've heard so did the 2E Bard. Might be worth looking at for some direction or at least inspiration.
Good idea. We did that with the monk.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
One-half spellcasting progression. If he can cast up to 9th-level spells like a wizard or sorcerer, and has a better BAB and more class abilities, why would anyone ever want to play either of the latter two classes?
But if you make him a half-caster, you are essentially removing the bard class as it stands now. The bard is already considered underpowered. You will have to give the bard a LOT of new abilities to a) make up for the loss of spells and b) make the bard more attractive in the first place.

I think keeping the bard to one-half spellcasting progression reinforces how the bard has always been understood; he was never meant to be a strict alternative to a fully-fledged spellcaster - rather, bards were meant to be generalist utility characters.
Really? Is that true? I don't think the bard was even understood, that was (and is) the problem. And generalists in 3ed are predisposed to fail. I'm not saying every class has to be a specialist or a one-trick pony but the bard lacks that one definable and FUN ability that makes him stand out and makes him attractive to players.
 

ValhallaGH

Villager
Of all the classes, the bard suffers the most from the "economy of actions" problem. His main class abilities all require actions to use, and so do his spells. The bard almost has too many things he can do, but none of which define him as a class.
Agreed.

Thought: Why not shift his Bardic Music abilities down to Move actions? Suddenly he can be using his inspiring performance and do something direct. Bonus, this could bump up his own ability that he could actually be the central figure in one or two of his stories.

The one thing that struck me about the 4E bard the most was that it can get allies out of trouble while helping them. It can shift an ally a square when it uses its basic healing power, it can grant saves to end effects with a lot of its attack and utility abilities, and it generally keeps that sense of "buffbot" while participating fully. Seeing that was one of the few times I haven't rolled my eyes at the hideous power-bloat of 4E (each class has around 100 powers to choose from over 30 levels, with another 50 showing up in other books).

Good luck and keep us informed, please.
 
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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
But if you make him a half-caster, you are essentially removing the bard class as it stands now. The bard is already considered underpowered. You will have to give the bard a LOT of new abilities to a) make up for the loss of spells and b) make the bard more attractive in the first place.
I agree; I think the bard, as it stands now, fails in its design goals to the point where applying "patches" won't work. It needs to be almost completely torn down and rebuilt from the ground up in terms of class abilities to fix it.

Really? Is that true? I don't think the bard was even understood, that was (and is) the problem. And generalists in 3ed are predisposed to fail. I'm not saying every class has to be a specialist or a one-trick pony but the bard lacks that one definable and FUN ability that makes him stand out and makes him attractive to players.
Well, the idea of the bard as generalist is how I always perceived the class. And while I do think that generalists are harder to design, I wouldn't go so far as to say that they're predisposed to fail. I think a good generalist is one that can serve as any of the major roles in a party, but not in an optimized fashion.

For example, I recently found a third-party product which had a feat called Incantationist. This feat let a character cast any spell as an incantation, laying out a series of guidelines for converting a spell to an incantation that serve to limit the feat's versatility. For example, the casting time is ten minutes per spell level, requires one assistant per spell level, requires several successful skill checks, has gp and XP costs, requires either a spell scroll of the spell or a spellbook entry of it to work, etc.

That's the sort of thing I mean in regards to having the ability to serve in a party role without eclipsing a specialist character. Someone with the above feat can serve as an ad-hoc spellcaster, but nowhere near as well as an actual spellcasting class. That's generally how I thought the bard should function for most (if not all) of its abilities...it just isn't built that way in 3.X.
 

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