The Favored Soul -- Pure Swiss

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Not only is it cheese, but its full of holes to boot.

I'd like to say up front though, that it isn't a bad idea. I tried to make a spontaneous divine class myself, but this class is just insane in what it can do. Essentially though, WotC broke its own main rule about spontaneous casting with this class, and really every other spontaneous casting class in the Munchk... err... Miniatures Handbook. The Sorcerer, the only previous spont. caster, was repeatedly said to be balanced because of how powerful of an ability spont casting really was. Repeatedly it was said that the ability to cast what you want, when you want, and to get metamagic on the fly was so powerful, that any extra class abilities would have been too much. Apparently the writers of the MH didn't agree with this, because they introduced several spont casters with class abilities out the yin-yang. This article is going to focus on one of those, the Favored Soul, the very first new base class this book introduced. Now, I am going to try not to give away everything you need to play this class, but I am going to try and do a breakdown on it, so there is going to be a lot of information here for those that insist on trying to leech from it. There shouldn't be enough here to actually reproduce a totally playable class from though, so here's hoping it'll be okay.

First thing you need to know, is that the Favored Soul is essentially the cleric version of a Sorcerer. Some things it shares practically cut and paste from the Sorcerer, such as BAB and spells per day. But that is where the similarities end, and the Favored Soul just starts to beat the Sorcerer like the proverbial red-headed step child.

Saves:
This should be one of your first warnings that something is wrong with the Favored Soul. Look at all the classic core class's Saves. You get one high, sometimes two. The Favored Soul has all three saves high. Yes, by 20th level, the FS's saves are +12/+12/+12. Not even any of the other classes in the MH can touch this.

Proficiencies, Hit Dice, and BAB:
FS gets all the armor and weapon proficiencies of the Cleric, but why? It specifically says that they are outside the normal orders of the churches, so why is it getting the armor and weapon profs taught by these orders? And don't forget the fact that they cast divine spells, so they don't have to worry about spell failure. This isn't too bad though, actually. The cleric has this, and they were trying to make a spontaneous cleric. Same reasoning can go for the fact they get the Cleric's d8 hitdice and BAB. Again, nothing seemingly bad here, but when combined with everything else, its just too much.

Spells:
We've got another big old slice of cheese here.
While the Favored Soul has the same number of spells per day as the Sorcerer, they actually know 17 spells MORE than the sorcerer does, and most of those are high level spells. We're talking 6 spells known of every level but 8th and 9th here people, compared to the Sorcerer knowing 3. Not only is the Favored Soul getting 30% more spells known than the Sorcerer, he's also getting access to Miracle to replicate all the other spells he doesn't know, and can cast it without the penalties a Sorcerer would suffer for Wish and Limited Wish. The Sorcerer must give up the majority of potential spells and really specialize, usually as a walking artillery platform. The Favored Soul doesn't, as their 60 spells know (as opposed to 43 spells known for the Sorcerer) means they pretty much get any spell they want. Did I mention they also get more spells per day than the Sorcerer at lower levels (although the Sorcerer does catch up by the end).

Now supposedly this is supposed to be balanced out by the fact that their casting is tied to two differant ability scores, Charisma and Wisdom, but that’s a straw man at best. Spell casting comes from Charisma, while save DCs come from Wisdom. Excuse me while I cry them a river, but by the time they reach a high enough level to actually cast high lvl spells, you can quite easily boost any ability up to a 19 to get access to all of your spells, then never touch that stat again. Any character that can't get Prime ability up to a 19 by lvl 20 probably doesn't deserve to be adventuring anyway.

Class Abilities:
This is where my biggest gripe is.
I could have swallowed everything above, and seen this as a perfectly well balanced class, that was totally playable. It would be just about identical to the sorcerer with a cleric twist. But they didn't stop there, they piled on the class abilities left and right.

Weapon Focus and Specialization: The Favored Soul gets free Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization in their Deity's favored weapon. I can almost see this, as they're closer to being a true avatar of their deity than a normal cleric, but weapon specialization? That has been one of the only real advantages a Fighter had over anybody else, and he still didn't get it for free. After how Andy said that the Sorcerer didn't get Diplomacy as a class skill (which the flavor text clearly says it should) because too many other classes already had it, and they wanted to keep the classes distinct, why the heck are they stealing the Fighter's thunder here? Yes, the FS doesn't get it until a much later level than the Fighter does, but they get it for free as a class ability, where the Fighter still has to buy it with his feats.

Energy Resistance: Wait a minute, nobody else in the game that I've heard of gets anything remotely like this, especially not as a base class ability! The Favored Soul gets an energy resistance of 10 to any element of their choosing, and by 20th level, they get to pick THREE differant elements to apply this to! What the heck is up with this??? There are no drawbacks, no limits, they just get energy resist 10 to half the elements in the game, no questions asked.

Wings: The Favored Soul grows a big pair of freaking mundane wings out of his back, and gets to fly around as a Ex ability at a speed of 60' per round. What? Now I know NOBODY else gets this ability. Closest thing I know of is the Elemental Savant (Air) getting flight of 100' as the capstone ability for the PrC, and the FS is getting it in a base class, and it isn't even the biggest thing they get. Wait a minute, just let me say this again. They grow wings and get to fly around at double their ground speed, with good maneuverability, as a normal class ability, that isn't even their 20th level ability?

Damage Reduction: Now we're just adding insult to injury. The 3.5 Barbarian gets DR of 5/- at lvl 19. The Favored Soul gets DR of 10/(silver/cold iron depending on alignment). On top of everything else, they get twice the bloody damage reduction of a raging barbarian. Again, I have to ask, WHY???

Overall:
Compared to the cleric, the Favored Soul loses domains and the ability to turn undead. They gain flight, damage reduction, and more energy resistances than you can shake a stick at. They are better at spontaneous casting than the Sorcerer, better in combat than the cleric, and have better saves than everybody in the game short of a high charisma paladin.

As I've been writing this, I've come to a realization.
The Favored Soul is not supposed to be a spontaneous cleric, it is a thinly veiled attempt to put an actual god in the campaign under player control. I mean, look at what its got. The FS has a favored weapon, resistances to both magical and physical attacks, the ability to fly at will, is great at making any save, has the third highest hitdice in the game, second highest BAB in the game, and can all around mop the floor single handedly with anything he runs up against.

Compared to the Cleric, this thing is overpowered.
Compared to the Sorcerer, this thing is so crazy freaking broken no DM in their right mind even think about letting it into his game, and should smack the player that asked to try it for being an
I do agree with you; cripes it's good. I would just like to point out the dragon disciple gets wings and blindsense an immunity to an element [or if you have the Draconomicon the option of things like energy drain or mind affecting spells] three natural attacks d12 hit points two good saves and great stat boosts.

That 's in the core rules. And in the Draconomicon the dragon slayer gets energy res 10 to all elements immunity to fear 3/- DR. Two good saves and a bonus feat of lightning reflexes and true strike as a move equivalent action once a day. And it gets half spell progression. This isn't including the anti dragon stuff.

Now neither of these classes are as good as favoured soul. I just wanted to point out that it is possible to get its abilities, albeit only with prestige classes.
A very opinionated article and highly biased against the favored soul, also with errors (mentions the favored soul gaining all of the proficiencies of the cleric, when it does not - among other problems).

The article also takes the abilities gained by the favored soul out of proportion and out of context.
I disagree.

If the information given about the last few abilities is correct, then the Favored Soul will get some chainsawing if I ever consider it. Specifically, High Will save, no free weapon feats, no wings, no energy resistances, no damage resistances, AND low BAB.

It seems to me that the MiniHB people tried to combine a spontaneous divine caster and a prestige class of some kind together in a terrible result.
Originally posted by Serene Selene
The article also takes the abilities gained by the favored soul out of proportion and out of context.

Care to back those up? Like how exactly its possible to even take Damage Reduction AND Energy Resistance to half the elements in the game out of context?

Or the ability to fly as a natural movement (meaning nothing short of cutting his wings off will keep the Favored Soul from flying, given enough room to do so). If anything, the Favored Soul turns the character into a high powered celestrial or a solar, but gives full casting progression at the same time and doesn't change the character's type so they gain the bonuses without the penalties of changing type.

If the Favored Soul had been billed as a Transitive Class into a Celestrial, changed character type to match, and forced a matching alignment onto the character, I might see it as balanced. But as billed, it has way too many powers, and not enough weaknesses.

But please, feel free to compare this to the Sorcerer, the main core spontaneous caster, or The Mystic, the spontaneously casting Cleric from Dragonlance Campaign Setting, or any of the core classes for that matter.
I agree with Edymnion, not only did they contradict their own rules they gave what should be at best PrC templates abilities (wings, DR, energy resistance) to a 20 level base class. Last time I checked a class was your characters job/role, the Favored Soul seems more like a race, and given it's power it should have an ECL. But that’s just going down the same drain pipe as 2eds class exp. penalty, it's both unrealistic and unfair to said player.

Worst of all the Favored Soul (and most of the other classes from the MH) simply shows one more way that the d20 system (which is a varied, flexible, and efficient system) is sliding into consumer pressure munchinisim from the video game generation.
Originally posted by pascalnz
Now neither of these classes are as good as favoured soul. I just wanted to point out that it is possible to get its abilities, albeit only with prestige classes.

But not while getting full caster progression.

Just the spellcasting is sufficient for an entire class (see the Dragonlance Mystic class, which is actually in line with the idea of a spontaneous divine caster). Just the physical abilities and saves is sufficient for an entire class. But both, in one package?

And with three energy resistances, it makes them very resilient to almost any monster in the game. Just with resistance to Fire and Cold you've ruled out the energy based attacks of most of the monsters in the game, not to mention now being virtually immune to weather hazards (too hot, too cold, doesn't matter, they can't do enough damage per round to hurt you). Take the other resistance in whatever type your DM likes to throw at you, and you're good to go.
Now mind you, I haven't seen the class yet so i can only use what Edy posted, but it think you people underestimate MAD, especially when it comes to casters. People cried the MT was overpowered until they played one. With the 3.5 DC nerf, and MAD, a Favored Soul's spell list becomes even more restricted than that of a sorcerer, since everything that requires a save is basically useless. By the sound of it, a cleric is more powerful then this dude.
I am Blue/White
Nicely written (I'm not familiar with the favored soul, but looks scary) but I have to nit pick one tiny point. Unless I am totally mistaken (and have been misreading that for over a year now), there is one other spontaneous "caster." The bard :D
To Edymnion:

While I readily agree with everything you said in your post, the FS is a terribly designed class, I believe that it should be pointed out that the FS is in the Miniatures Handbook. This means, judging from everything else is the book, that it was designed for miniatures games over role-playing campaigns. All of the base classes in the MH, excluding the slim possibility of the Marshal, are obviously intended not for D&D, but for Mini's. The designers even followed this philosophy when designing stuff for the MH, "What could be cooler that a mini that..."

Using the Miniatures rules, the FS would make a great, and balanced, miniature, however it is not designed for RPG's.
The Ugly: The Attitude of this Post

I am a bit disappointed with the ranting and the attitude of this post, especially in this forum, and doubly so from a poster I recognize as among the few whose opinion I respect. Furthermore, the FS only gets Med Armor Prof.

The Good and the Bad:

First, let me begin by saying that this class should be balanced against the Cleric only. If you balance the Cleric against the Wizard (or anything else), the Cleric wins by a mile. It is specifically overpowered for mechanical reasons (the need for a healer conflicting with the natural desire to play a non-support-only character leads to a healing character with offensive merit, ie an uber-class). Thus, when I discuss balance it will be with only the Cleric in mind, since the FS will fill a similar role in a party (though not identical, as I will later address).

:thumbsdow The Wpn Prof, Focus, and Spec all have to be in the FS's deity's favored weapon. (Thought choosing a deity for domain was bad? How about choosing one for favored weapon?) This is not too big of a mechanical advantage, though the Weapon Spec does steal from the Fighter's flavor. I think the real failure here though isn't stealing flavor, but the loss of it. Those abilities tend to "trap" the player into a specific martial weapon. I have to choose a sub-optimal route if I want to take a different primary weapon. Let's say I'm a FS of Pelor. If I want to be an Undead Bane Mace of Disruption guy, I can. If I want to be a Holy Staff of Healing guy, I have to take a sub-optimal route. Now, I might, but I am still discouraged, and weaker role-players will be compeled not to "waste" this class ability.

Spells/day. More spells per day than Cleric? Check. Roughly as many as Sorcerer? Check. Sorcerer has more than Wizard? Check. FS has more that Clc? Check. Clc has more than Wiz? Check. FS has more than Sorc? NOT CHECK. Yes the FS has a lot of spells per day, but this is not unbalancing (nor was it argued that it was, just being systematic).

Spells known. Also balanced. Yes, there are more than a Sor, but compare a Wiz (2 new/LV + $$$) to a Cleric (ALL). It is a rather small mark up after all, and only becomes so at the highest of levels. Also, the FS CANNOT spontaneous Cure/Inflict. That means to be a decent healer you either have to (1) take a Healing spell at most ever level (HP, affliction, or death healing) or (2) devote certian spell levels to healing and reserve those slots for it. Not to mention an Evil FS who wants to have both (to heal both himself and his undead allies) will have to "Know" 2 spells.

Turn/Rebuke/Domains (Both spells and Powers). Those are all lost, belonging only to the Cleric. A wonderful move to make the classes distinct. Distinction which the Sorc / Wiz is in serious need of. Domain powers are varried, and balance pretty well against the weapon feats. Don't think those stack up? Compare +1 Att / +2 Dmg with (possibly) a Martial Weapon stack up to 2 Controlled Elemental servants (with the Elemental domains) or the Utter Undead Blasting Power of a Sun / Glory domain combo (which one of the deities in BoED allows).

Energy Resistance. I think that this is a good trade off for Turn/Rebuke. If you think your FS are min/maxing by always choosing Fire/Cold/Acid or Electricity, then send some more Energy Admixtured Sonic Fireballs at them. After all, that is what PCs do to thwart ER, so it only makes since that everyone else does as well. After a few Undead encounters you will see how a Cleric makes those easy. (Want to kill a Vampire for good? Heighten Turning Feat or High CH + Sun Domain = Dead Vamp the easy way). Also realize that only the first one will see much play. The second will see some, but the 3rd very little. After all, you can get that kind of protection from a low level spell. At best, you might want to make sure you justify your choices RP not metagame. "My FS of Pelor chooses Fire, because Pelor is a Sun god. No sunburn for me at worship time!!!" of "My FS of Pelor chooses Cold, because the warmth of Pelor burns in my soul!!!" Electricity, Acid, or Sonic might be harder to justify. For a FS of Olidimarra, however, Sonic is appropriate (since Oli is a patron of many Bards). This wouldn't so much be a rule, as a flavor suggestion.

:thumbsdow Wings. Clip them. They only come at very high level, and if you in the last five levels of the 20 and you don't have other ways to fly, then it is only because you don't want to. It makes no sense, is abuseable at best, worthless at worst. Definitely a PrC only type of thing. There is no excuse for this ability, and chopping it is the one change I make to the class.

The LV 20 DR. Is it big, yes. Is it pointless, yes. It comes too late to break game balance. It is not like a PrC where the LV10 Apotheosis of the Class might come a character level 15. This is CL 20. At this point, you are almost epic, and most everything is going to fly out the window already, even if you have held it together until this point. If it was incremental and came sooner I would chop it, but it isn't worth it if it is only at level 20.

Split Abilities for spellcasting. Wouldn't be an annoyance for a Cleric who needs the CH for Turning and WS for casting, but I found boosting one all the time was necessary for the saves, leaving my other low. That meant my save DC stat was boosted by Items and Levels (since I wanted it as high as possible) and my spell ability was boosted by items alone (since DC means more to me than one or two extra low level spells). That meant that if I was itemless, I was greatly weakened until high levels when I could miracle it up.

My Take:

The class makes a good Thaumaturgist. Curing, Summoning, Protecting, and Buffing with spells, and entering Melee when necessary. (I am presently playing a FS of Wee Jas that way and I am enjoying summoning Monstrous Scorpions all the time from the protection of Sanctuary).

Again, I can not stress enough the pointlessness of those wings and how quickly I removed them from the class in my campaigns. All-in-all though, it really does not overpower any more than the Cleric does, so I allow it.
I'm a big fan of spontaneous casting. I remember asking why there wasn't a spontaneous divine caster way back in 2000 when 3e first hit the shelves. I do not, however, think the favored Soul is overpowered. I took a look at it, but I'd much rather play the warmage from the same book. Or, if you want a divine caster, take a look at the Evangelist from Dragon 311. I'd MUCH rather play an evangelist, even though the name makes me think of Jerry Falwell, or worse Earnest Angley running around slapping the crap out of people and screaming "Be Healed!"

The Evangelist gets SIX domains. More if you take a level or two of contemplative or another prc that grants additional domains. Those domain powers add up, especially for an evangelist with no devotion. Imagine having the domains luck, fate, travel, fire, celerity, and mysticism. Sure, the Favored Soul might be a bit better in combat, but In terms of spells known and sheer versatility, the Evangelist wins hands down.
Originally posted by Edymnion

Proficiencies, Hit Dice, and BAB:
FS gets all the armor and weapon proficiencies of the Cleric, but why? It specifically says that they are outside the normal orders of the churches, so why is it getting the armor and weapon profs taught by these orders? And don't forget the fact that they cast divine spells, so they don't have to worry about spell failure. This isn't too bad though, actually. The cleric has this, and they were trying to make a spontaneous cleric. Same reasoning can go for the fact they get the Cleric's d8 hitdice and BAB. Again, nothing seemingly bad here, but when combined with everything else, its just too much.[/b]

The Favored Soul doesn't get the all the Armor proficiencies of the Cleric. The Cleric gets Heavy and the Favored Soul doesn't. My question to you is have you play tested this against a Cleric and Sorcerer? If not how can you really know it is over powered? I can give you that it can look look overpowered but isn't that the only way to know?
*groan!*

Didn't you post this in another forum? Anyway, it's like I said before, the secret to playing all the classes balanced is to actually "role-play" not to "roll-play". Besides, we have a favored-one in our party. He's a front-liner that does combat-buffs on himself all the time. Also, the fact is, that the favored one is meant for MASS COMBAT, not regular adventuring. That's why it's in the miniature's handbook.
Good Lord!

That does indeed sound more like a race or template than a 20 level class. Personally, I'd cut every class ability except wings (after all, they don't get a familiar), bring the spells back down to the same number a sorcerer should have, and get the saving throws back to 6 Fort/6 Reflex/12 Will. Then maybe it would be balanced.
Well, of course it's going to seem ubermunchkiny. But that's because you're overlooking a few things. Now I'm not saying it isn't overpowered, but not quite the figure of pure power you seem to make it out to be. Lets have a look, shall we?

Saves:
Ok, so they get high saves for all three saves. Powerful? You betcha. Is there any other base class in the MHB that can touch this? Nope. But there is in the PHB. The Monk. Why should the Favored Soul get the same saves as the Monk though? Well, I suppose it's because both are somewhat beings of perfection. Thus, as beings of perfection they should have few flaws. And what better to iron out flaws then to have outstanding base saves?

Proficiencies, Hit Dice, and BAB:
The Favored Soul does not get all the proficiencies of the Cleric as you claim. They have the proficiency in the use of simple weapons, as does the Cleric and Sorcerer, and the addition of their deity's favored weapon. The addition of their deity's favored weapon is indeed quite the boon. However, Clerics with the War domain not only gain proficiency in their deity's favored weapon, but a weapon focus on it as well. A full two levels before the Favored Soul gets weapon focus as a class ability. What's this? They have the same proficiencies if and only if the Cleric has the War domain? Not quite. You see, the cleric has the advantage of the heavy armor proficiency. Why is that such a great deal? Well, because when you've got heavy armor you don't need an outstanding Dexterity bonus to offset the difference with medium armor. Meaning the Favored Soul has to have a higher Dexterity score to compete in combat with a Cleric. So really, they seem to be a spontaneous Cleric, just as the Sorcerer is a spontaneous counterpart to the Wizard, but is worse at combat rather than better. Yes, the Sorcerer is better at combat than the Wizard. Why? Wizards aren't proficient with all the simple weapons and Sorcerers also have bluff as a class skill.

Spells:
Spells per day between the Sorcerer and the Favored Soul are the same. Despite what you may think, that shifts the favor towards the Sorcerer. Why? Compare the Wizard and Cleric spells per day. Clerics get one more spell per spell level per day, other than 0th level of course, due to the domain spell. While the domain spell is rather limited in choice, it is still nonetheless another spell per spell level per day to add to the Cleric's arsenal. Known spells eating away at you? Well, why not cry out that the Cleric is vastly overpowering the Wizard? The Cleric not only knows all spells on his spell list, but doesn't have to pay money for them either. A Wizard theoretically could learn all every spell on the Wizard/Sorcerer spell list. But the amount of funds it would take is a bit less than 240600 gold and that's if he/she finds friendly wizards to copy the spells from and that's just the spells from the PHB(No I didn't factor in the spells they learn for free, I don't have all the time in the world). Not to mention the amount of space needed to hold all those arcane tomes. Spells known? The Favored Soul doesn't gain much of a foothold over the Sorcerer for spells known when you compare the Cleric to the Wizard. Not to mention the fact that the Sorcerer actually has a wider variety of spells to choose from, allowing for a more flexible caster(not flexible day to day, but more flexible in the options of character development) to better suit a campaign or party. Not to mention that the Wizard/Sorcerer spells are "more powerful" than those of a Cleric. For instance, the Sorcerer may not be able to fly with wings, but certainly may with the spell. Not to mention the ability to fly while under greater invisibility and flinging fireballs every round at a much lower level.

The Favored Soul's casting being tied to two abilities are also very crucial. Sure, it's less of a factor at high levels when one has magical items to "close the gap" with its single ability tied spellcasting competition. But while the Favored Soul is low level, it may not actually survive due to it's fewer spells per day, no access to mid-high level spells, or lower DC due to the fact that they have to spread out their scores. When does this matter? When the abilities are fair. Say, with point buy or using the standard ability scores. The Favored Soul has many choices to consider when they don't have the option of using the 2 16's and 17's they have rolled in character creation.

Class Abilities:
Ok, now onto where you seem to have the biggest problems.

Weapon Focus and Specialization:
The Favored Soul steps into the Fighter's domain with the Specialization. However, a Fighter does practically get it for free, considering the multitude of bonus feats they obtain to use for the feat. Why should this matter so much though? Fighters aren't Fighters because of Weapon Specialization. Fighters have their niche because they are able to adapt and learn several different fighting techniques. And as I had previously pointed out the Weapon Focus can be gained by a Cleric with the War domain. And as you say, these abilities come much later in the game. A point I'd like to say +1 damage isn't as significant.

Energy Resistance:
Yes this is a powerful, class ability. As powerful as the Monk's Diamond Soul? Certainly not, but the Monk's Diamond Soul does come at a later level than the Favored Soul's Energy Resistance. Energy Resistance is helpful, but not every situation is going to make this a determining factor. And the Favored Soul is still vulnerable to the types of energy he/she did not pick.

Wings:
Wings are certainly a boon to the Favored Soul, but it can also be a hindrance. In a campaign where hiding one's identity it can be quite detrimental. Also, the Favored Soul is going to need space to be able to take advantage of those wings, and most hack and slash games are fought in dungeons where one doesn't take full advantage flying. 60 foot move however isn't that huge of a leap. Yes, it's outstanding to be able to move that far without relying on a mount or magical items, but a monk of comparable level could practically fly and have a 10 foot advantage on the Favored Soul. Not to mention flying has its limitations when trying to change directions, a situation that happens all too often on the battlefield.

Damage Reduction:
Favored Souls also get Damage Reduction. More than the Barbarian in fact! That is overpowering. Until you notice that the Barbarian's DR cannot be bypassed. Not only that, but the same DR of a Monk. But the Monk's is harder to bypass than the Favored Soul as it takes magic rather than your easily obtained silver or cold iron weapons.

Overall:
Yes, this class is overpowered. But not by a whole lot. Why? Because it has too many ability scores to maintain to compete with it's competition for not all the benefits the competition reaps when specializing. A casting Favored Soul isn't going to hold a candle to a Cleric or a Sorcerer who doesn't even have to focus most of their good abilities into casting, while the Favored Soul does. The Favored Soul also cannot compete in combat against a similar level Cleric who are both focusing on combat because the Cleric doesn't need a high Dexterity modifier for defensive capabilities while the Favored Soul does. Not to mention the Favored Soul's pitiful fighting prowess compared to a Monk, who has the same HD, BAB, and Base Saves, despite the Favored Soul's ability to supplement their fighting ability with spells(Considering both have limited ability scores to work with).

All in all, it really is up to the DM to include this or not into their campaign. It certainly could be overpowered, but then again, it may not be depending on the DM and playing style of the group.
I have a point and a question. On one point you are mistaken, the Favored Soul doesn't have all the armor and weapon proficiencies of the Cleric. They can't gain martial weapon proficiency from the War Domain since they don't have domains, and they don't have heavy armor proficiency. My question is have you play tested one against a cleric and/or a sorcerer?
First off very nice analysis, Endymion.

Right off the bat, I want to point out that I like approx. 90% of the rest of the Mini Handbook, and I would say that of the other 3 base classes the Healer and Warmage are pretty solid and decently balanced (by the way I don’t want to get into a discussion of this here that should be a separate thread). The Marshal has its own problems.

It took me just a few minutes to exclude the Favored Soul from my own campaign.

Just recently a regular player pushed me on allowing an adjusted version, this was our final solution:

Alignment: Any (buy must match deity-the one step rule was silly in my opinion this class is akin to the Chosen of ... from Fearun. You represent a direct conduit to your god you not only have to be the same alignment but we worked out a code of conduct coming close to the paladin's)

Skill: same

Weapon & Armor Prof.- Of note here, Endymion made a minor error here the class is not proficient with Heavy Armor and we left it the same as the base class.

Saves: We dropped the Reflex save back to a clerics (why they thought they needed to give them all 3 saves at good was baffling to me as well).

Left spells as they were I still had some reservations here but by in large I hate messing with creating alternate tables (For my campaign I did require that I choose one of his 3 known spells at each new spell level to signify the God's direct connection in this mortal's life, By the way sometimes Gods in my campaign will deny clerics certain spells at certain times so this does not come out of left field).

For special abilities I left Deity's weapon Focus and Specialization but they were not free feats. I removed one of the energy resistances. Tthey come at 15th and 20th level. I removed Damage Resistance.

Wings comes at 20th level and the character gains outsider status upon attaining this level. (For my own campaign I made it clear that though we have not played an epic campaign yet anyway, 20th level would also mean that the character has become a herald/champion for his god and is retired from active PC status.)
Originally posted by Finley DaDum
First off very nice analysis, Endymion.

Right off the bat, I want to point out that I like approx. 90% of the rest of the Mini Handbook, and I would say that of the other 3 base classes the Healer and Warmage are pretty solid and decently balanced (by the way I don’t want to get into a discussion of this here that should be a separate thread). The Marshal has its own problems.

It took me just a few minutes to exclude the Favored Soul from my own campaign.

Why did you exclude it? Was it played and seemed overpowered? Of did it just look like it?
*pushes Edy off the soapbox*
*gets on the soapbox*
*thinks better of it and steps down and invites Josh Kablack, Oberoni, etc, etc to post their arguments again*

Same story as the other thread we all responded to.

Easy as pie to find something stronger than this class in the PHB: Druid, Cleric, Wizard, Sorcerer. If using core/splat, even easier to make a level 20 character that is "stronger" with any other base class + PrC.

If you play in a game where people have 18's in more than one stat (or any stat for some games I've been in) then a character of this ilk looks pretty strong. If you play one of the other primary casters in the same game it's stronger. If you're allowed other sources, making something stronger is simple. Kind of like the argument where someone said the Mystic Theurge was overpowered by giving a build with Ur-Priest in it. Interesting how that build does without Ur-Priest or True Necromancer...

we want to make the Favored Soul "pure swiss" we must nerf every other primary caster there is, disallow every prestige class, etc. I've debated this on the other thread from a min-max viewpoint how totally not-strong this is for a caster. Especially one who has to keep two "casting stats" reasonably high and can't just pump one like everybody else and put the other "high" stats into something that's actually going to save you at low levels where one hit will kill your character and will save you at higher levels if you don't have the foresight to get everything just right (buffing).

*shrug*
Oakspar77777 made a real good analysis and I do agree with it, even with me finding wings not that a big stretch. Wings can be attained at level3 by a wizard able to cast alter self (and anybody able to drink a potion), become obviously not so great at lvl5 where wizards or clerics with the right domain start to cast fly and nearly pointless within the near-epic levels a FS gets them.

I do also think that the loss of heavy armor is a really bad thing, there is no way of getting this back beside of losing a casterlevel or a feat.

The loss of two domains is a very bad thing. First of all, regarding the number of spells known, clerics do not only know all clerical spells, they do even know more from their domains. There are quite a few domains that grant access to great wizard spells. The domain-powers are just another point; some of them are really powerful. Travel, for example, gives a huge benefit especially at lower levels when not every guy walks along with freedom of movement. Many of the most important abilities are cut off by this, and a hold cleric is much more in danger then one getting a weak elemental su-ability.

Elemental resistances:
I thought you were joking. It’s one of the earliest and most-used buffs in the game, at the level a FS gets it every cleric and his friend are using elemental resistances or even immunities by buffing. It’s nice to have, but in no way crucial.

Weapon specialization:
I think this one is useless. It’s not the best feat or totally overpowered for them to have, but it does indeed steel from the fighters flavor. Giving it for free would be a point one could change. I don’t think its too bad from a mechanical point of view, compare the +2 to divine favor and most melee-clerics wont even get the difference.

Until here, I am really fine with this class. The high-level abilities are mainly cut off by using a PrC anyhow, and games where things like a PrC (uh) are not common will most likely not integrate the new core classes, imo. There remains a point to say though: There several possibilities to abuse the FS balance with the same mechanism a sorcerer can get more spells: adding a domain via a PrC.

A FS is not a cleric, so one could qualify for the windwalker in F&P without having access to air or travel, but would get access to all the spells. Divine disciple, contemplative, sacred exorcist and a good number of others does grant a domain. It’s discussable whether the FS gets the spells to her list of spells known or if they are just castable in a domain-slot, but in any case a FS would get an additional spell per day via a domain slot, would be the same as a druid taking a domain.

First, these are methods not really used by most players out there, I came over from the min/max-board where the abusive potential of the FS was already taken care of, partly by myself using the ways mentioned above, but without a great echo. Getting people excited on the min/max-board is kind of a good benchmark for a class (with the exception of the MT who was discussed loudly but found not really impressive but in a few special cases), latest examples are the dervish and the swashbuckler.

In my opinion, the favored soul is a well-balanced and good flavored class. One could do minor changes like removing weapon specialization, but that’s most likely up to everybody for his own, some people tend to customize PrCs also and I am perfectly fine with this, but its not becoming the rules just because of an opinion.

I would never go so far to doubt the knowledge about the game mechanics from those who found the favored soul being overpowered but in fact i think that some of those people should reconsider the usefulness of some minor features compared to the power the standard clerical spellcasting gives at this point anyhow.

gs
Funny
This class is so not broken. I'd even go so far as to say the class is underpowered.

Think of it this way: What's the standard route to power in D&D? PrC, PrC, PrC. What happens if you PrC with Favored Soul? You lose all your special class abilities since you can now never freaking get to them. You're unlikely to get anything more than free weapon focus and 1 energy resistance. Really, the first 9 levels are complete crap. Oh, and Knowledge (religion) isn't a class skill for you, so good luck finding a divine PrC you can even qualify for.

You cast more spells per day than a cleric, but that didn't seem to stop the Sorcerer from sucking, did it? Indeed, while the sorcerer casts 2 spells more per level than the wizard, the FS only casts 1 more spell per spell level than a cleric. For this glorious ability, you only know roughly 1/4 of the cleric spells.

Oh, and you have 2 stats for spellcasting. Your Cha determines DC and highest spell level, but Wis determines bonus spells. So you're likely to have one and not the other. Unless you have gold flowing out your ears. It's the same flaw as TWF vs THF.

Wings and DR are entirely irrelevant. At the level you get them, you'll be throwing around 9th level spells. DR 10/silver, DR 10/cold iron, and flight are all available through spells of that level -- and generally from spells of lower level. To say nothing of magic items that are fairly cheap and common at these levels.

Here's the skinny: You lose domain powers and domain spells, 3/4 of your spells known (clerics know all spells), spontaneous healing, heavy armor, and turn undead. You get good reflex saves, and a bunch of back-ended abilities. Oh, and the War domain's power... spread out over 3 levels.
Few people can see genius in someone who has offended them. -- Robertson Davies
While I must admit that I have not analyzed this, I would like to point out that the whole 'favoured soul' idea implies a certain possession of:

1. Luck.
2. DM cooperation on the topic (so (s)he'd have a chance to increase the difficulty of your encounters accordingly), which you should always have anyway.
3. An 'extreme' alignment. You'd have to agree totally with the deity on the topic. A player would have to RP it well, or loose the attachment.

The end result from me is: Games are broken. Classes aren't. The Dungeon Master may have to flex the game, but he gets so much control over the character that it's okay! The player (pretty much) can't retreat when his/her deity wouldn't!

-B.
I've read through this thread and have tried to see both sides. I must agree after having experienced the FS in the game that it is way overpowered and should be hit the nerf-bat around 500 times. Funny enough I play a sorcerer in this campaign.

After having experienced the FS uberness I and the game master actually sat down and tried to figure out how we could ever challenge the group without the FS striding through without a scratch or to kill every1 besides the FS without making the player feel focused on. This proved to be near impossible. The FS is built around melee, very little healing power, most spells are selected with combat improvement in mind ... and his race is outsider giving him more resistance and the like.

Now this guy can buff up like a madman. He can practically fly around the combat zone using immediate/swift spells -> melee specialists.

Using hos spells is what makes him do more damage than me as a blaster and withstand more damage than our psychic warrior. He is more resistant to anything due to racial/class imps, his armor class is decent by taking fighter feats (cb. expert ). A good situation to illustrate this is when our DM wanted to capture us and strip us naked (some items where too powerful in the group - needed an 'item-reset' ). He created a situation with us being mad underdogs while disabling us with non-lethal damage from rogues/hold monster/etc... The ranger was the first to go down to 2 rogues with spiked chains/saps. Then came the psy fighter having taken down 1 rogue then going down as well to spells/non-lethal. The sors (me) went down by being grappled and constrained/sap'ed (while invis). At this time 3-4 rounds had passed and we were in way over our heads, as was meant.

Now the FS had taken only light damage. Due to his swift spells moving him around and so on he managed to get in melee with a lvl 15 caster early on (our average party lvl = 10). With the group down the wizard summoned the rogues/fighters to his side and they started pounding the FS. It took 6 rogues with sneak attack (all non-lethal still), another lvl 12 wizard and the original lvl 15 wiz 3-4 rounds to take that FS down. In this time the FS managed to take out the lvl 15 wiz and a rogue. Seeing that happen with all his abilities coming into play one by one ticked me off. He can cast the same amount of spells as I can, knows a lot more spells than I do, and can fight! In situations he can blast more effectively than me, fight more consistently than the fighter and heal us afterwards.

Honestly, I think he can take us in a 3v1 if he buffs enough. Normally he only gets a single prot spell (swift actions - so more in the fight) and bull’s strength off before it gets thick.

What can’t he do? He’s not a versatile blaster, but decent, VERY decent with only 2 chosen ranged attack spells. He can fight if buffed. With swift casted spells he can buff midfight; he has armor+hp+resist+weap before being buffed. He has absolutely NO drawback. Two casting ability scores? Diminish that with items ffs - even better ... dis the one. Buff yourself and never need a cast lvl check.

Those who say FS is a decent class take a walk. Compare to sorcerer with normal thinking. Sors takes a beating on using metamagic, has no class abilities WHATSOEVER, cracks like a stick, does not wear armor, has the MOST limited access to spells. In this I don’t mean amount of spells to choose from but the amount you can take. Your high lvl spells is diminished to 1-2 highest lvl known and a slow growth rate. Everything the sors has as drawbacks has an opposite advantage in the FS arsenal.And don’t even dare mention that divine spells are less powerful than arcane. They are just as deadly/effective. Worst of all, it makes creating encounters almost twice as demanding for DM as he has to very inventive to challenge a FS.
Aside from the amusing aspect of this thread involving a 2 year bump, I'd like to point out that favoured soul and sorcerer are both considered slightly weaker than their prepared counter-parts on the Optimization forums, arguably the best source of what is and isn't balanced. Every favoured Soul build I've seen (and I've made a few too) involve using a feat to get the knowledge skills required to qualify for Sacred Exorcist to restore the Turn Undead ability, which undeniably powers some of the most powerful feats in the game (Divine Vigor, Divine Might, Divine Metamagic).

Also, Favoured Soul only gets medium armor, clerics get heavy.
From in play I would have to agree with the original post that it is overpowered. Whilst the cleric can cast 'any spell' in practice he only regularly remembers a select few for day to day use so the fact that he can cast all the other spells doesn't mean he will have them memorized and the favoured soul can do the same as the sorcerer/ wizard/ cleric and just carry scrolls around with him.

Similarly, although energy resistance is easy to get, you don't always have it; and the Resist Energy doesn't last all day whilst surprise encounters, or encounters with enemies that have access to different elements do make it powerful.

When we had one in our group we also had a fighter, wizard, scout and cleric and the sheer number of spells meant that dominated a he could heal almost as well as the cleric; What cleric really wants to use all his spells for healing? He had the ability to cast his buff spells over and over again to outfight the fighter and had a good choice of weapon (Greatsword, FS of Kord) to go with it. He also out damaged the scout and could outlast the wizard and with a choice of one or two blast spells could sustain magic attacks for as long as the wizard, though of course he could happily mash things in melee...

Possibly if you throw together optimised builds he's not overpowered; but from a total of three games that I've been in with favoured souls there are only two exceptions that are more powerful.
1. Druids (obviously )
2. Clerics when you give them full access to spontaneous Sanctified Cheese from BOED
Those who say FS is a decent class take a walk. Compare to sorcerer with normal thinking. Sors takes a beating on using metamagic, has no class abilities WHATSOEVER, cracks like a stick, does not wear armor, has the MOST limited access to spells. In this I don’t mean amount of spells to choose from but the amount you can take. Your high lvl spells is diminished to 1-2 highest lvl known and a slow growth rate. Everything the sors has as drawbacks has an opposite advantage in the FS arsenal.And don’t even dare mention that divine spells are less powerful than arcane. They are just as deadly/effective. Worst of all, it makes creating encounters almost twice as demanding for DM as he has to very inventive to challenge a FS.

Or the sorcerer is a subpar class, but the only one we can compare as a spontaneous caster. Seriously, the sorcerer isn't that good, so saying the favored soul is better than a bad class is relatively pointless.
I read the threads and have run two Favored Soul NPCs to test them out (I tend to test out stuff before introducing them as PC options). I have found the FS to be on the weaker side, at least in my campaign / DMing style.

I can see how a FS can be overly powerful when designed for pure-combat only as a fighter-type, which is useful in a campaign where characters just fight, but I've never played in one of those so I don't know. Some of the higher level cleric spells are decently powerful, I admit, and I haven't played a FS at high level, so the example above seems plausible. I disagree about cleric spells. Overall the cleric spell list lacks the diversity of the wizard/sorcerer list and most of the lower level spells are 'eh' power wise. There are about 10000000 threads on this topic. I'd rather have rope trick over zone of truth any day ("gee, is the half-fiend lying, let me cast a spell and MAYBE find out.") I will not be "taking a walk," thank you.

The favored soul is a poor choice compared to the spontaneous divine caster option in Unearthed Arcana, and I encouraged a player in our current campaign to take that option instead. If that the UA is better than the FS, and the FS is supposedly broken, then that PC should be broken but she isn't because most cleric spells are better selected for one-day specialized situations rather than long-term use (if you want your character to be more than a two-trick pony, that is).

My main beef is with the OP's comments about what constitutes "proper" class abilities. The perspective offered is rigid, unimaginative, and old-school. Apparently, the OP has never read, say Heroes of Horror, where the Dread Necromancer goes from DR 2 (at 2nd level) to DR 8 (For those who don't know it, the whole point of the class is to become a lich over 20 levels). I've played one for 11 levels and I would never say he's overpowered in practice. And then there's the warlock. Obviously a terrible, stupid class for daring to have PrC-like class abilities The OP never responded to others' question of whether he's played the class, so I'm guessing not.

In terms of balancing power, I thought the idea of the DM picking 1 spell per level to reflect the god's wishes was a very creative idea and I might do this, but the other changes seems based on fear rather than experience with the class. The good news is that this entire thread is pointless (I'm bored this evening) and WotC won't be altering it so those of us who like the class as-is can continue to enjoy it.
Seeing them in action, I don't see much power on their end but maybe my games are different. The warmage is similar, the class looks obscene on paper but comes out weak in context. The clerical domains as well as the turning abilities are what make the cleric as strong as it is. The wings and DR, not to mention the energy resistances, come in far too late to be properly effective.

Mocking the Miniatures Handbook isn't exactly endearing your position to me either but, meh, my opinion is my opinion. The favored soul is essentially a slight variant on the paladin. The wings, the DR and many other abilities come too late for it to be really amazing the way most would like, also the severe limit on their spell list is also a problem. In most cases they have to pick one design and stick with it the whole way through.

Spontaneous casting is a joke in terms of power, useful but it has enough holes and weaknesses to fly a death star through. There are debates on this constantly; the real problem being that casting classes have many many issues with internal balance alone is worth a thread.

The warmage is an even worse example of this (a fairly weak class looking too strong), but that's for another thread.
The Favored Soul is much like the Warlock. Both of their ability progressions are blown out of proportion in comparison to their actual combat/utility effect. The main flaw(s) of the favored soul is that it has massive MAD, can not be nearly as combat effective as a cleric, and has stunted casting compared to a Cleric.

Let's look at MAD. A caster favored soul has to focus on four statistics - Constitution and Dexterity for survivability, and Charisma *and* Wisdom for casting. A melee favored soul has to focus on five - strength, as well as the above. In contrast, a fighting cleric needs only Strength, Constitution, and Wisdom (and a caster only the latter two).

A Favored Soul is faced with a stunted BAB progression and a lack of good ability choices. A favored soul gains two combat-progression abilities - Weapon Focus and Weapon Specalization (+1/+2).

With a 28-point buy, a melee [human] favored soul might look something like this:
14 strength
14 dexterity
10 constitution
8 intelligence
16 Charisma
12 Wisdom.

Alternatively, Wild [Wood] Elf may be the best choice -
16 strength
16 dexterity
10 constitution
6 intelligence
16 Cha
12 Wisdom

Let's look at a melee [Deep Dwarf] Cleric in comparison, however.
16 Strength
10 Dexterity
16 Constitution
8 Intelligence
8 Charisma
16 Wisdom

I can tell you which I would rather play - the one with two higher AC (Cleric with full plate), +3 hit points/level, better saves (with the exception of Reflex, which he can soak due to HP) and far better casting - [16 wisdom for Bonus Spells and DCs, as comparison to the Cha/Wis dichotomy for Favored Souls]. In addition, the Cleric gets his spells a level early, and has just as many spells-per-day as a Favored Soul [5+1 vs. 6. They end up being the same], while knowing a heck of a lot more of them.

Everything a Favored Soul can do, a Cleric can do better - except grow wings at 17th level, when he has Domains and therefore Shapechange or similar, and the Favored Soul is stuck with 8th-level spells.
It’s interesting to see this 2 year old thread. I didn’t know that a couple of years a go, the Favored Soul was seen as broken (Maybe in the future, those classes from Tome of Battle neither!).

Today, all we see is "CoDzilla smash!" and never hear anything about the Favored Soul.

I don’t know if the OP is still alive, and if yes, if he still thinks that the Favored Soul is broken, but I want to tell him this: Core classes should be good enough to play all the way lvl 20, and not jump to a Prestige Class by lvl 6.

Having great abilities at higher lvls are great to make a class interesting and playable. Does anyone try to play a 20th lvl Sorcerer?
The Favored Soul has no turning.
The Favored Soul has no Divine Metamagic.
The Favored Soul doesn't get to play with all the other divine feats because most of them have turning or wildshape prereqs. They also can't take arcane feats because a bunch of them are, well, arcane.
The Favored Soul is not a 24-7 36-Buffs drop-of-a-hat killing machine.

The Cleric is.

(Or I'm playing my Favored Soul all wrong.)
It’s interesting to see this 2 year old thread. I didn’t know that a couple of years a go, the Favored Soul was seen as broken (Maybe in the future, those classes from Tome of Battle neither!).

Today, all we see is "CoDzilla smash!" and never hear anything about the Favored Soul. I don’t know if the OP is still alive, and if yes, if he still thinks that the Favored Soul is broken

Yeah, I'm still here, and yes, I still consider the Favored Soul to be broken and no, I still do not allow it in my games.

but I want to tell him this: Core classes should be good enough to play all the way lvl 20, and not jump to a Prestige Class by lvl 6.

Did I ever say they shouldn't?
Yeah, I'm still here, and yes, I still consider the Favored Soul to be broken and no, I still do not allow it in my games.

Did I ever say they shouldn't?

Ow, yes, you didn’t say that. But, you said that was unfair to see a spontaneous caster with special abilities. The Sorcerer doesn’t. Well, believe me, I’m one of the few that still see the Cleric as an "almost" warrior type, but, as a trade off, he can cast cure spells and that’s a lot!

Maybe it’s because I’m a little "First Edition" player (A Human Fighter IS a human Fighter, and not a Human Fighter 2/Psiwarrior2/Barbarian 4/Exotic Weapon Master 1/Frienzied Berserker 10).

Anyway, what is the biggest problem about the Sorcerer? It’s the fact that is does NOT get any new special abilities after lvl 1. So, EVERYBODY multiclass, because you don’t lose anything!

The game shouldn’t be like that. Someone should be able to play with a sword ans shield Fighter all the way lvl 20 without feeling useless near that "Salad Fruit" that is the "Human Fighter 2/Psiwarrior2/Barbarian 4/Exotic Weapon Master 1/Frienzied Berserker 10".

What I meant was: The Favored Soul get some nice abilities and maybe they are enough to a player to accept playing with him all the way 20. So, to the DM (maybe you), things would go easier, because you won’t see a Cleric 5/ God All Mighty Killer 3/ Everybody’s assassin 3/ Kick A$$ 4 ruining your games.

I mean, what do you prefer, a 20 lvl Favored Soul or that character that a guy made from multiclassing that add his str, dex, int, wis and cha bonus to damage? Truth said, I hate the way Wizards made multiclass in 3rd Edition. There should be more laws about it.
Even with what it gets, I'm not sure the FS is worth playing to 20. Mainly because the abilities it gets leave me a bit under whelmed. By the time they show up, you could do that or better with the spells you have (or would, if you were playing a class that had decent spellcasting, which the FS doesn't).

Screaming about sorcerer spontaneous casting strikes me as silly because sorcerers are arcane, and have access to a much better spell list; even with that benefit they're still on the weak side (the value of their spontaneous casting was rather drastically overestimated and even the 3.0E designers admit that much).
Couple of things:

Weapon Focus and Specialisation: The FS gets both of these, but at later levels that the Fighter.

The Weapon Focus isn't great, because anyone can take that, Fighter or not, and they get to pick the weapon (the closest a FS can get is picking a deity that has the weapon he wants, which comes with a whole lot of other baggage). It's a free but restricted feat, much worse than the Fighter's Bonus Feat, because Fighter gets to pick whatever feat he likes.

Weapon Spec is better, and IS Fighter only. However, it still isn't going to be giving the Weapon Spec-ed Fighter a run for his money, because many of the deities weapons are crap. A FS of Wee Jas or Obad-Hai isn't exactly going to have the Fighter shaking in his boots at the daggers 1d4+2 or quarterstaff's 1d6+2. Some gods fare better than others, here, with things like the Scythe or Greatsword.

Spontaneous Replacement of Clerics: FS adds a new option as a group healer - but not one anywhere near as good as a cleric. While Cure Light Wounds seems like a good choice for a FS spell to know, it eventually stops being worth anything when 1d8 becomes a drop in the bucket for healing, and the FS can't get rid of it. The Cleric can simply not select the spell - and even still spontaneously cast it!

Then take something less the Restoration trees. Very good spells, but only very situationally useful. Either the FS won't know these spells - in which case when attribute and level drain come up, the group will sit around begging for a cleric who can help them; Or the FS will take them, and spend 99% of his time not casting them and wishing he knew a better spell instead. Cleric has the flexibility to pop it in and pop it out again. The Raise Dead line fits in here as well, along with a whole bunch of other situational Cleric healing.

I like the FS. I like the flavour, the abilities, the whole package. I think it's bordering on a little weak on the power side, but it adds an interesting alternative (not replacement) for the Cleric.
More importantly I'm thinking that Edy might not have read the spells correctly. They don't have access to the entire list, they have known spells just as the sorcerer does. If anything the favored soul is far weaker than a cleric of the same level simply because the cleric will have a greater range of options and abilities at their disposal.
Yeah, I'm still here, and yes, I still consider the Favored Soul to be broken and no, I still do not allow it in my games.

Ok, let's go back over all of this, comparing to core only:

BAB: Average. only 2 classes have as low: Wizard and Sorcerer
Saves: Good. Monks also have full saves, but 2 of 3 is common as well (4 other classes)
Skills: Poor. Bottom of the lot with the rest of the 2+ int classes.
Armor and weapons: Average. Basically match 5 classes for armor, and at the bottom for weapons.
HD: Average (3 classes with d8, 4 with less than d8, 3 with great than d8)

So just at that point we're looking at a completely average class. This means that we need to find the overpoweredness of the class either in spell casting or class abilities.

Starting with class abilities:
2 feat (Weapon weapon focus, Weapon specialization)
3 Energy resistances of 10 at 5th, 10th and 15th level.
Wings at 17th level
And DR or 10/ cold iron or silver based on alignment at 20th level.

Let's compare to a druid:
Wildshape.

Seriously, that's all it takes for a druid to match everything. Weapon focus and specialization? Made up for at 5th with wildshape stats. Wings? Done, at 5th level (12 levels before the Favored Soul), with an 80' fly speed. Energy resistance? Immunity of choice as needed at 16th. DR? 5/- at 16th. Lots of other bonuses? Check.

Heck, at 16th level, you might as well just call the druid an air elemental and then throw the game out the window with your thinking. 100' perfect fly speed, DR 5/-, 18 str, 29 dex, 18 con, immune to critical hits and stunning, 15' reach....

Slap on draconic or exalted wildshape for some real fun.

That leaves spells. The favored soul gets to focus, well, HAS to focus on doing 1 thing since they don't know all the spells, just a subset. The druid can change what they do from day to day, and get spontaneous Summon Nature's Ally spells for very good utility no matter what they choose to do. The druid ends up with a handful of fewer slots, but only has to focus on 1 stat to make the casting good, and can basically ignore physical stats while doing so.

The Favored Soul is not supposed to be a spontaneous cleric, it is a thinly veiled attempt to put an actual god in the campaign under player control. I mean, look at what its got.

I can only point to the druid and laugh when you call the favored soul "a thinly veiled attempt to put an actual god in the campaign under player control." Everything you cite as a problem, the core only druid does quicker and pretty much hands down better.
The favoured soul is broken but but BUT, is weaker than the Cleric. I would rate the classes as something like Cleric/Druid (tie), Wizards, Psion, Favoured Soul, Sorcerer>everything else due to the fact they all get level 9 spells which outclass feats and class abilities.

Edymnion do you allow Clerics or Druids in the game? From a min/max standpoint just using the core rules they're scarier than the Favoured Soul esp the Druid. Add in the splat books and its CoDzilla. Your article was more of a rant but I loved your commoners one BTW.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer  

Screaming about sorcerer spontaneous casting strikes me as silly because sorcerers are arcane, and have access to a much better spell list; even with that benefit they're still on the weak side (the value of their spontaneous casting was rather drastically overestimated and even the 3.0E designers admit that much).

Actually, I have *NEVER* seen them actually admit that the Sorcerer is underpowered, which is the crux of the argument for me. The FS beats the Sorcerer out, hands down, no questions asked, but the designers still claim they are both just fine. They're not. Either one is over powered, or one is under powered, they cannot both be fine as written.

More importantly I'm thinking that Edy might not have read the spells correctly. They don't have access to the entire list, they have known spells just as the sorcerer does. If anything the favored soul is far weaker than a cleric of the same level simply because the cleric will have a greater range of options and abilities at their disposal.

And the cleric *IS* a class the designers have repeatedly said that they intentionally made overpowered in an attempt to get somebody to actually play one.
Hooooookay.

Comparing the favored soul to a sorcerer forgets one crucial thing: In D&D, arcane spell progression is treated as a bigger plus than divine.

You could argue that’s not just, but for the sake of realistics, you should not really try to compare their spellcasting. A better comparison is the cleric, so lets go down the list of differences:

Cleric: Domain spells, Domain abilities, heavy armor proficiency, turn undead, access to every spell to prepare, access to higher level spells quicker.
Favored soul: Energy resistances, favored weapon, damage reduction, wings, good reflex saves, more spells/day, spontaneous casting.

The simple fact is this: The spontaneous spellcasting and extra spells per day are diminished by a few factors. One is that the difference in spells/day is bridged somewhat by the domain spells a cleric gets. That aside, The cleric can already spontaneously turn all his spells into healing spells of equivalent level, so he need not ever prepare a healing spell. A favored soul's spells known is similarly diminished by the fact that he is most likely expected to be either the main healer or at least A healer, so he has to choose a healing spell for that level, leaving several spells known taken away. A cleric however can take ANY spell he wants as long as he prepares it that day, which is an immense advantage, especially in dealing with diseases and such that can wait a day. Finally, Clerics get one more advantage over the favored soul in spellcasting: Access to the higher level spells a level faster.

Overall I would say the cleric's spellcasting is much more useful and overall better in cases of anything but sheer dungeon crawl where loads of spells per day are needed.

Now on to the other abilities.

Energy resistances: Very nice but remember, the cleric (as well as the favored soul if he wants to) automatically has that area strong anyway since there are more than 1 clerical spells that provide massive energy absorption. The spell being cast is also more dynamic so it can be adjusted for the fight. This is not to say the energy resistances aren’t good, because they are great, but they just aren’t as great for the class style as you would think.

Damage reduction: At level 20? No huge deal. Thats less than 5% of the game unless you play a lot of epic gaming, and its not huge anyway since the majority of things at that level bypass it. And that’s ONLY if you never took ANY prestige classes.

Wings: By that level, if you don’t have access to fly spells or similar anyway, you're an idiot. They are nice, and take the worry out and definitely add points for style, but they don’t BREAK the class at all.

Favored weapon: This is where your choice of deities makes or breaks it. Poor Favored Souls of Wee Jas and Vecna and Boccob. With this a favored soul can become a bit more combat efficient than a cleric, except he doesn’t get heavy armor proficiency. Still, the bonuses are better since that’s 1 feat away. The favored soul can give a fighter a run for its money in combat for a while, except for the fighter gets the advantage of being able to put more focus and stats and his magic items into combat purposes. Still he beats the cleric in straight combat, as long as the deity he has uses a good weapon.

Reflex saves: Advantage, Favored soul. This helps since a cleric/FS usually has a pretty low dex score anyway.

Turn Undead: This little ditty makes clerics feel like gods for a while. Any time you face undead, POW!! Sure the higher level ones are hard to hit, but you still can give undead hordes a real run several times a day. Also, these turn into some nice things when combined with divine metamagic.

Domains: These add some pretty nice abilities, but nothing big, and nothing game breaking. The spells added to the spell lists can be pretty sweet though.

Overall: The cleric excels more in beating up undead and the traditional spellcasting role of a cleric, a healer and affliction curer. In the more untraditional roles as an agent of a deity, such as enhancement junky melee combatants, the favored soul works better.

Honestly, I think a favored soul would make an even better NPC than a playing class. Nothing says BBEG like a walking embodiment of Hextor with a flail ready to bash the brains out of a paladin.