[3.5] On the Tome of Battle

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After noticing how many times people seem to outright ban this book from their campaigns and seeing a Swordsage in action, I can't see the reason why people seem to dislike this book so much. So I was curious, what are your guys' opinions on this book? Is it generally considered overpowered? Underpowered? Balanced? 

Another question I have is regarding maneuvers. Can you ready the same maneuver more than once, like a spellcaster can do with spells? There is nothing to say whether they can or cannot, although the examples of the classes given seem to imply that each maneuver can only be readied once. 

So, then, to summarize: Can you ready the same maneuver more than once, and what is the reason GMs seem to ban this book so often?

DMs tend to ban the book because melee combatants actually being able to do something other than "I swing at the foe 3 times & hit twice" is "overpowered".  It's actually not, it's just that the Crusader (better than a pally), swordsage (kind of a cross between a monk & rogue), and warblade (better than a fighter) are better at what they do than the core classes they can, essentially, replace.

And, no, you can't "prepare" a maneuver more than once.  There are ways to use them multiple times, however. 
"Today's headlines and history's judgment are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will most certainly not do the hard work of securing the latter." -Condoleezza Rice "My fellow Americans... I've just signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. Bombing begins in five minutes." - Ronald Reagan This user has been banned from you by the letters "O-R-C" and the numbers "2, 3, 4, and 6"
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56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
Resident Pithed-Off Dragon Poon Slayer of the House of Trolls
There's also a certain amount of resistance to something unfamiliar, since the Tome of Battle is using its own system for maneuvers and many DMs just won't trust it until they're familar with it.

I suppose there's also the fact that maneuvers are harder to interrupt or disrupt than spellcasting, in the same way that some DMs don't like psionics due to its lack of spell components (which can restrict spellcasting under various circumstances).

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My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
There are ways to use them multiple times, however. 



Are you refering to people using recovery mechanics while in combat, or is there something I am missing?
There are ways to use them multiple times, however. 

Are you refering to people using recovery mechanics while in combat, or is there something I am missing?

Recovery mechanics.
"Today's headlines and history's judgment are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will most certainly not do the hard work of securing the latter." -Condoleezza Rice "My fellow Americans... I've just signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. Bombing begins in five minutes." - Ronald Reagan This user has been banned from you by the letters "O-R-C" and the numbers "2, 3, 4, and 6"
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56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
Resident Pithed-Off Dragon Poon Slayer of the House of Trolls
Well, there is one - and only one - way to use the same maneuver over and over and over again in the same encounter that does NOT rely on a recovery mechanic, but it's limited. Most of the Nine Swords themselves grant access to a first-level maneuver from their discipline - and say you can initiate them five times per day. It doesn't take up a ready slot or expend or anything as near as I can tell. Granted, these maneuvers are things like Leading the Attack and Steel Wind, so it's not all that bad, but still, worth noting.



There are two arguments against the tome I see over and over. 

The first boils down to "FIGHTERS CAN'T GET NICE THINGS!". This argument, itself, comes in two stages: Holistic, and numeric.

Holistically, here's the list of "Tier Three" classes - those that excel at one thing, without being useless when that thing doesn't matter, or who are competent at several things, and always able to contribute. That description sounds like a "sweet spot" in terms of player balance: so long as you spread out responsibilities, in a party of Tier Threes, everyone can shine, and no one's dead weight.
Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, Bard, Binder (without access to the summon monster vestige), Wildshape Variant Ranger, Duskblade, Factotum, Psychic Warrior (and possibly the totemist; there's some debate.)
Note that all of these use magic, even the ones who use melee. It's not always "true" magic (factotum, binder, bard (if focused on Inspire Courage), etc.) but it always seems more than just "that guy with the sword".
The Fighter, Monk, and Paladin all fall at Tier Five - capable of doing only one thing, and not even all that well, or too unfocused to truly master anything. (You can make these classes work in a party of Tier Threes, but it takes a LOT of serious optimization-fu to do it.) This is a problem in game design: If you want to play one of those archetypes, you are stuck with a class that isn't able to back up its threats mechanically.  Furthermore, because these three classes are in core, people are primed to think D&D melee should be this badly-off when compared to other classes.
Meanwhile, the Tome of Battle classes are all Tier Three. Even the mundane warblade. Because of this, when they're compared to the Tier Five "core" warriors, they appear stronger. Due to the priming above, DMs levy the banhammer.

Numerically, there's a bit of poor psychology at work here too. The Tome put large numbers in one spot - but readers don't parse that over time. Yes, a maneuver might do +6d6 damage in one swing at level 6 (although this one's anomalously strong...), but consider what that actually means: it's just +21 damage. The raging barbarians present from the beginning of 3.0 would be making two-hit full attacks at that point. Assuming the standard heroic array (15 Strength to start, boosted to 16 at level 4) and no racial mods, the barbarian would be dealing 2d6+5 damage per swing normally, or 2d6+8 per swing while raging, with the +1 greatsword he's expected to have at that level. This means that compared to his normal sword swing, the barbarian's raging full attack adds +17 damage each round, and he can do this for the entire battle. The warblade can do his maneuver *once* before he needs to recover it - meaning it adds no extra damage the following round, while the barbarian adds another +17, well outpacing what the warblade could do.

(At one point, I did this analysis for the warblade and the barbarian over a number of levels, with the warblade using a number of maneuvers while the barbarian just raged and wailed away, and neither used any feat but Power Attack (I was comparing the classes, not  builds, and this is the only feat that all damage-dealer meleeists are pretty much guaranteed to have.). I used actual SRD data for the opponents, and scaled all damage by the chance to hit. Except for a small handful of levels, the barbarian was still the king of damage. (The warblade came out ahead at, I think, levels 3-5 and once again around level 9 or so.) The warblade's advantage was not damage, but mobility, since he didn't have to rely on immobile full attacks. The consensus of the CO board was that the Tome of Battle adds freedom to move and options to melee; it doesn't actually add raw power. However, you need to actually look at the numbers to do that, and most GMs see +6d6 and go "Fighters can't get nice things! BANHAMMER!" without doing the numbers.) 


The third argument I've seen amounts to "thematic concerns" and also takes two forms - "It's not Western / It's too anime!" and "It's too magical".

For the "it's too anime! / It's not western" argument, this has been done to death (particularly the arguments about the word "anime" - usually people saying this refer to shounen shows like Dragon Ball Z or Naruto, when "anime" is about as diverse and genre-defining a term as "movies" and there are series which are explicitly based on old-school D&D), so I won't dip into it too much here. As for the "not western" thing, (sarcasm alert!) I concur!  Of course it's absolutely not based upon Western myth and lore. I mean, obviously, only Asian myths and lore could ever possibly produce something like this:
The Warp-Spasm overtook him : it seemed each hair was hammered into his head, so sharply they shot upright. You would swear a fire-speck tipped each hair. He squeezed one eye narrower than the eye of a needle; he opened the other wider than the mouth of a goblet. He bared his jaws to the ear; he peeled back his lips to the eye-teeth till his gullet showed. The hero-halo rose up from the crown of his head.

 
This, obviously, is straight out of a Dragon Ball Z novella, what with its big, spikey hair, exaggerated eyes, and glowing battle aura.

...Oh, wait...

Similar myths pop up around Beowulf (wrestled a dragon, naked, and won), Sigmund (defeated a lycanthrope with his teeth), Hercules (do I need to go into detail?), Achilles (was literally invincible), Fergus (cleaved the top off of a mountain in one swipe), Samson (wiped out armies armed with a donkey's jawbone, and brought down a stone temple by flexing), and so on.) 

Largely speaking, fluff is what you make of it. You can play a full-on warblade as Inigo Montoya (incidentally? All the names mentioned in that scene? Actual fencing schools. They're just named after their master, instead of, say, "Diamond Mind" and "Iron Heart".). You can also play a stock fighter as the most over-the-top bad-parody wire-fu warrior ever who screams the names of all of his attacks (for real kicks, bring this down to Power Attack. Perhaps Power Attack -4 is the Biting Lotus Strike, while Power Attack -6 is the Dancing Tiger Lunge. Or perhaps the gloves really come off and you just yell "WO POW! POWAAA ATTAKU FOAH EIGHTU!" in a ridiculous parody of a Japanese accent.) Neither has any bearing on how "western" the classes actually are.


Finally, there's the "too magical" claim. For this, I actually blame Desert Wind for being first alphabetically. This means when people open the book and start reading maneuvers, they see "shoot fire out of your sword" and immediately associate the entire book with spells. It doesn't help that maneuvers have similar visual formatting to spells here, even though it makes perfect sense in the context of a martial strike. (Note that "they're formatted like spells!" arguments basically went out the window with 4e? That argument was always a red herring - but one that psychologically primed people to think "spells" when they saw it in 3.5.)

The problem is, Desert Wind is only one-ninth of the schools, and not even all of Desert Wind does fire damage. (Quite a bit, actually, is about speed and movement.) It is available to exactly one of the three classes - the one that is the spiritual equivalent of the only non-magical class in the Player's Handbook who can go etherealteleportrun at superhuman speeds, kill with a single gesture, punch through stone, use arsenic for mouthwash and so on, without a hint of magic (yeah, monks aren't magical... and that's only in core, before the PHB2 added the decidedly-not-a-problem-no-sir-why-would-you-think-that  Hadouken Ki Blast and Super Saiyan Aura Firey Ki Defense feats.). And it's quite possible to make a swordsage focusing on things other than Desert Wind (Shadow Hand ninja assassins, Setting Sun aikido masters, etc.). And that doesn't even touch on the warblade nor the crusader. (Incidentally, the Paladin? The crusader's core analogue? Can heal by touch, scare undead with the power of his god, can summon magical beasts, cast spells, and wield magic staffs. The crusader? None of these things. And yet you almost never hear the paladin as being "too magical".)

When you look at the majority of the book, most of the maneuvers are things like "you sweep your sword in an arc, hitting multiple targets", "you make a risky attack that deals extra damage if it hits but is a bit inaccurate", "you can attack while moving", "make an extra attack; all attacks at -2", "your target is stunned if you hit", "attack an enemy's weapon or disarm them", and other things that are absolutely positively not part of the core rules already and way too magical for any fighter to ever perform. *cough*



So in short:
-People might think FIGHTERS CAN'T GET NICE THINGS.
--Some of these people don't understand that the tome adds options and mobility, which allow a fighter to be useful and fun in more situations.
--Some people can't parse that +Bonus damage isn't sustained, and the overall output is about the same as what warriors could already do.
-People might think there are thematic concerns.
--Some people have no idea what they're talking about when they raise these.
--Some people generalize from Desert Wind to the rest of the book, or mistake a format for spells.

That's... actually pretty much every argument I've seen against the Tome that doesn't boil down to "I don't want to try new things" or "Only the core-only environment is balanced". (Yes, I've heard that last one. Said with a straight face, too.)

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Bleed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

Its basically the fighter can't have nice things problem. 


As a whole the book is one of the better balanced ones in 3.5, and falls right in the sweet spot of power levels most people prefer to play in. Additionally, its hard to make a terrible TOB character, and hard to make one that tears the game right open. There is no reason whatsoever not to include this book outside of "I don't own it, and only use books I own" which is still kind of lame.


That said, a lot of groups really really don't like to give the fighter nice things.  

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

No troll memes (So-called "Weeaboo Fighting Magic") in retaliation towards ToB BoNS?  Very well...  No matter.  I think the book had quite a few good ideas, but the implementation wasn't in my liking.  The maneuvers were pretty cool ideas, but I don't know how well it translated.

Edit:  I didn't mean to come across as a troll.  I guess my issue is that it feels a bit typical Shonen Jump (Too bad they ceased magazine printing) action-adventure genre for me.  Now, I know how broad the spectrum of non-western animation, especially Japanese animation is.  Does BoNS resemble much like Miyazaki or Tezuka to name a few icons...  Nope (at least to my knowledge)  It's a good start for utilizing maneuvers however.  Perhaps 3rd party books expand on this concept?

Crazed undead horror posing as a noble and heroic forum poster!

 

 

Some good pointers for the fellow hobbyist!:

  • KEEP D&D ALIVE, END EDITION WARS!
  • RESPECT PEOPLES' PREFERENCES
  • JUST ENJOY THE GAME!
...The maneuvers and spells were pretty cool ideas...

Uh... there were no spells.
"Today's headlines and history's judgment are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will most certainly not do the hard work of securing the latter." -Condoleezza Rice "My fellow Americans... I've just signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. Bombing begins in five minutes." - Ronald Reagan This user has been banned from you by the letters "O-R-C" and the numbers "2, 3, 4, and 6"
User Quotes
56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
Resident Pithed-Off Dragon Poon Slayer of the House of Trolls
So in short:
-People might think FIGHTERS CAN'T GET NICE THINGS.
--Some of these people don't understand that the tome adds options and mobility, which allow a fighter to be useful and fun in more situations.
--Some people can't parse that +Bonus damage isn't sustained, and the overall output is about the same as what warriors could already do.
-People might think there are thematic concerns.
--Some people have no idea what they're talking about when they raise these.
--Some people generalize from Desert Wind to the rest of the book, or mistake a format for spells.

That's... actually pretty much every argument I've seen against the Tome that doesn't boil down to "I don't want to try new things" or "Only the core-only environment is balanced". (Yes, I've heard that last one. Said with a straight face, too.)  


No troll memes (So-called "Weeaboo Fighting Magic") in retaliation towards ToB BoNS?  Very well...  No matter.  I think the book had quite a few good ideas, but the implementation wasn't in my liking.  The maneuvers and spells were pretty cool ideas, but I don't know how well it translated.  Maybe if I wanted to do a BESM D20 campaign ;)



Called it, didn't I?

Now, DoctorNecrotic, which of those would you claim was your STRONGEST point? I'd just like to know which one to focus on when I elaborate ,since I assume you didn't read my long post pointing out that A) it isn't magic, though it uses the format for spells, and B) "anime" is not a valid excuse (as non-anime does what you think anime does, and the tome does not do what you think you need anime to do). 

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Bleed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

It is available to exactly one of the three classes - the one that is the spiritual equivalent of the only non-magical class in the Player's Handbook who can go etherealteleportrun at superhuman speeds, kill with a single gesture, punch through stone, use arsenic for mouthwash and so on, without a hint of magic (yeah, monks aren't magical... and that's only in core, before the PHB2 added the decidedly-not-a-problem-no-sir-why-would-you-think-that  Hadouken Ki Blast and Super Saiyan Aura Firey Ki Defense feats.).

Monks may not use spells, but they're not non-magical.  Of the abilities you mentioned, only their speed increase is actually an extraordinary ability.  Empty body, abundant step, quivering palm, ki strike (for punching through stone with the adamantine version), and even diamond body are all supernatural abilities that are suppressed by an antimagic field.

But along that line, I'll note that many of the maneuvers in the Tome of Battle are likewise explicitly noted as supernatural.  And funnily enough, they are the ones that allow you to do things like balance on thin air or shoot fire from your sword.  So for schools like Desert Wind and Shadow Hand, a lot of the maneuvers are actually magical in nature.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome Lurker, Fulminating Crab, Ironglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
I'm someone who would not have allowed the book.  That was before I finally aquired the book and now that I have it and have had a chance to look over it I'm not as worried about it as I was before.  I still need to spend some time studying the book but I'll say the maneuver mechanics were the reason I'd have banned the book.  When you don't have a good understanding of some game mechanic, especially a "new" mechanic, it is usually easiest to avoid running into it by banning it.

IIRC ToB came out about the same time that 4e was announced.  Now this put some people into a 3.5 buying frenzy but that announcement really killed my appetite for DnD which is why I didn't pick up the book when it first came out.  I'm probably not alone is staying away from that book and thus never learning the meneuver mechanics which means not wanting to play with those mechanics.  It is my visits here that convinced me I should finally look into getting the book and now that I have it I'm a lot more open to using the mechanics found in it.
 
That's actually interesting, Steven, since the TOB was essentially The Force built into the class structure rather than the feat structure, with maneuver levels instead of tier-based Use the Force checks.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Bleed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

A big reason is format.  They used a format that looked like the spell system to make it easier to use for classic D&D players but this made it too easy to dismiss them as magic even if the fluff and mechanics mosty say otherwise (same goes for the power system as there are those who would say "it is just amgic" even if the power in question is 100% martial in fluff and design). 

If it looks like a duck and  sounds like a duck you might think it is a duck but in this case it is not (perhaps a hunter in disquise with a duck call?).
That's actually interesting, Steven, since the TOB was essentially The Force built into the class structure rather than the feat structure, with maneuver levels instead of tier-based Use the Force checks.

It may be a little like Force Powers work in SWSE but when you don't know the mechanic and can't study the mechanic it is harder to make that connection.

I could then mention that there are many people who hate how SWSE did Force Powers.
  

Just a couple things to say:

community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

Goes VERY indepth on fighter vs warblade.

Read the PH2 language for the fighter.
Then read the ToB language for the warblade.
They are almost exactly identical.

The fighter gets 11 bonus feats over 20 levels.
The warblade gets 43 Feat-equivalent abilities over 20 levels.
And you wonder why the warblade makes the fighter look bad?

==Aelryinth
Fighter vs Warblade analysis http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19573526/Analyzing_the_Fighter_vs_The_Warblade The Lockdown F/20 iconic build http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19856162/A_little_Lock_build_for_you
You say that as if making the fighter look bad means something.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Remember when I didnt allow the book for longest time since I didnt own it, I rather read over it then just say "Dur ok use something I dont know about at all" Now that I have the book I promoted using it but none of my players will even look at it lol. And its funny cause out of about nine players only two of them are ever spell casters (The others tend to be fighters, barbs, monks, scouts, rogues, etc)
The fighter gets 11 bonus feats over 20 levels.
The warblade gets 43 Feat-equivalent abilities over 20 levels.
And you wonder why the warblade makes the fighter look bad?


Get back to me when Weapon Supremacy can only be used once per encounter.


Honestly? I've never really liked that analysis, because it basically goes "maneuvers are feats, done, warblade better" which seems to be missing the point. (And I say this as another guy who analyzed the hell out of the warblade - except my analysis was aimed at investigating the claim that they did more damage than barbarians. Turns out, they do not.) The big picture here is that feats are designed to do one thing, and that thing is designed to supplement a class, rather than substitute for a class - and while the warblade comes with class features, all the fighter gets are feats. It's an issue with design intent, when you paint it as an issue of "more = better".

As I was saying a while back, the Fighter is Tier Five - just like the NPC Expert. Just to review, Tier Five means "Capable of doing only one thing, and not necessarily all that well, or so unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything, and in many types of encounters the character cannot contribute. In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed. Has trouble shining in any encounter unless the encounter matches their strengths. DMs may have to work to avoid the player feeling that their character is worthless unless the entire party is Tier 4 and below. Characters in this tier will often feel like one trick ponies if they do well, or just feel like they have no tricks at all if they build the class poorly." You have to concur that this is an accurate description of the Fighter, and always has been. Where there is room to disagree is if this description is appropriate for the kind of hero you want to play.

By comparison, the Warblade - and the rest of the martial adepts - are Tier Three. This means that they are "Capable of doing one thing quite well, while still being useful when that one thing is inappropriate, or capable of doing all things, but not as well as classes that specialize in that area. Occasionally has a mechanical ability that can solve an encounter, but this is relatively rare and easy to deal with. Can be game breaking only with specific intent to do so.  Challenging such a character takes some thought from the DM, but isn't too difficult." This is, I think we can all agree, an apt description of the warblade. (It's also worth noting that this description also says that Tier Three classes can, most of the time, outshine nearly any Tier Five class - which includes the Fighter. This isn't always the case - the Bard is Tier Three, for instance, and while it's easy for a bard to be amazing, it's hard for him to defeat a fighter at the fighter's game. But that's because the bard's game isn't fighting. The warblade's is - as you noted, their fluff is basically the same!)

I know the tier system is unofficial, but that doesn't stop it being accurate. The fighter is just poorly designed. A lot of early 3e/3.5 stuff was - the most dramatic example is the hexblade, which Mike Mearls flat-out explicitly admitted suffered from poor design due to its age, and the fighter is several years older than the hexblade!

There's another aspect that's related to this - and it's a point you raised, in fact. Mechanics that are forgiving are hard to screw up, while ones that are rigid are agonizingly difficult to design or play. Compare late 3.5 to first-printing 3e and you'll see that the designers learned their lesson: the original Sorcerer was stuck with sleep at level 20, for instance, while the 3.5 version got a very limited ability to swap out spells. I don't know why a similar ability wasn't given to the fighter during the revision (the only change, apart from how a few feats worked, was the fighter's skill list), but given the admission on the hexblade, I suspect it was the designers "playing it safe" to avoid the appearance of power creep, and sadly landing straight into the lap of "Fighters Can't Get Nice Things". (It's telling that by the time of the PHB2 - which introduced the duskblade, who has a much more forgiving method of spell swapping, comparable to how a warblade swaps maneuvers - they decided to include retraining rules, explicitly aimed at giving fighters some forgiveness if they change their mind over time.)

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Bleed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

43 feats vs 11 should give ANYBODY pause when comparing the respective classes. After all, the only thing the Warblade does not get that the fighter does is ranged weapon proficiency. It can even take the fighter only feats, including the capstone of Weapon Supremacy at level 20.

Too, many of the benefits of the Warblade's class abilities are 'always on', just like feats...this includes stances, their Int-based benefits, bonus feats, uncanny dodge, weapon versatility, bonus to Reflex saves, d12 HD...

feats sub for a LOT of stuff, but they don't make up for it. Getting a +30 auto-pass will or reflex save when you need it is much more powerful then +2 to that save from a feat, because you get to claim when to spend it. Doing the damage of a full attack on a standard action with any weapon is more powerful then needing a 2h weapon and full attack to get the same.

The manuver system itself was a great fix for melee because it solved the move+attack problem that allowed for combat versatility. that wasn't a class issue, that was manuvers themselves, so outside the scope of the argument.

I actually wouldn't say the warblade is that much better then the fighter outside of melee and combat. However, it is so much more flexible and defensive as a function of its combat capabilities, that it outshines the fighter in every other way other then brute force full attack damage. And then has 4 skill points to top things off.

heh.

==Aelryinth
Fighter vs Warblade analysis http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19573526/Analyzing_the_Fighter_vs_The_Warblade The Lockdown F/20 iconic build http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19856162/A_little_Lock_build_for_you
There is an issue of books like this Tome and the Psionics books of there ussually only being one player that owns it or wants it, while the other players don't have reasonable access to it, or worse the DM doesn't have it or have reasonable enough access to it.


It is not a matter of if something is balanced or not, it is a matter of either it being open to all players, and having all the players and the DM being familiar with the rules. Several bad scenerios play out otherwise. such as:


-A powergamer/optimizer has the book, and creates a kick ass PC, which is not bad in of itself, but the rest of the party consisting of a mediocre ranger and a subpar paladin etc, who only get to flip through the book for 5 minutes before the start of the game session, if they are lucky enough that the player with it brings it along. They don't know the rules, haven't studdied them enough to actually take advantage of them. This creates an unbalance between awesome and poor that is hard to balance for a DM, and is only cured by all the players having full and propper access.


-The DM doesn't understand the rules and the player takes full advantage of this to bend them and abuse themm, he has a character that does the impossible with feats that the DM has to "take his word for" This is particularly true of the psionic book, which is balanced only if the PC isn't cheating like crazy, while the DM doesn't know how to counter abilities, or what to roll against them.


The final issue is that these abilities, again perfectly balanced, throw the DM for a complete loop if he doesn't know them. Encounters are smashed to pieces by powers that the DM didn't expect because he doesn't know these rules, resulting in "You do what now?".


What should a player do to get a book accepted? First he should give the DM access to it, highlighting the classes, abilities and feats etc that they are particularly interested in. This allows the DM to know and understand the rules for these and thus be able to have them in his game, the second is to ensure tht everyone has access to the book so that you don't get an optimized Warblade with a subpar Fighter in the same group 
I may not have stated it enough before but MrCustomer really hits why certain things will get banned even if they are "good and balanced."  I believe that few of us have trouble using many of the feats, spells, and items from any book because we are all familiar with those things but when new/different game mechanics get brought in it becomes an entirely new story.  I know that any time someone suggests some new "uber" build I tell them they need to run it by the DM/GM and POINT OUT THE POWERFUL/BROKEN PARTS of the build; I add that last part because I know it is possible to throw something in front of a DM who, in a rush to get things done, may not see the little "tricks" you're going to abuse and/or stack together for power.  Personally, I think one of the WORST things you can ever hear a DM say (or have them think even if they don't say it) is "I never realized you could do that."
-snip-



Not sure when you continue making posts that go "Warblade better than fighter." when nobody is contesting that or agreeing that being better than the fighter = problematic.

Even with Warblades around, there are still many builds I'd rather have a few levels of Fighter for. So what if the Warblade, as a whole, is better than the Fighter? If you don't want to optimize the hell out of your build, you shouldn't be stuck with the **** fighter just because the warblade is being banned from the table for being better than said **** fighter.
-snip-



Not sure when you continue making posts that go "Warblade better than fighter." when nobody is contesting that or agreeing that being better than the fighter = problematic.

Even with Warblades around, there are still many builds I'd rather have a few levels of Fighter for. So what if the Warblade, as a whole, is better than the Fighter? If you don't want to optimize the hell out of your build, you shouldn't be stuck with the **** fighter just because the warblade is being banned from the table for being better than said **** fighter.

Don't mistake me for saying that that I hate fighters. I built Lockdown as an example of how to make a good, contributing fighter.

But for generic all-around purposes, the Warblade beats it hands down. The fighter could triple the number of feats it gets and still only rival the flexibility and versatility of a warblade.

And your example of 'splashing levels of fighter' is the general consensus of all a fighter is good for in the long run. You should take 4 levels of fighter and then move on to something else. In short, you aren't taking the fighter class...you're trying to grab a few more feats early on. It sometimes seems as if PrC's were invented for no other reason then to give a great reason to NOT take fighter levels.

With the Warblade, you have really good reasons to take it all the way through, without resorting to niche builds that are hard to pull off without fighter levels.

And ask Tempest...there are very few Fighter builds you can't pull off as a Warblade, except those expressly reliant on Fighter levels (say, for instance, requiring Dungeoncrasher).

==Aelryinth
Fighter vs Warblade analysis http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19573526/Analyzing_the_Fighter_vs_The_Warblade The Lockdown F/20 iconic build http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19856162/A_little_Lock_build_for_you
Fighter is a fine class IF you're just going to use a few levels of it.  If you build a sandbox charcter fighter is a useful class but it is not a class you'd routinely take to 20 levels.

In all honesty fighter is actually a lot like Cleric, Sorcerer, and Wizard in that all of those classes are basically things you'd take as part of some much larger build.  Now you can play one of those core casters all the way up to 20th-level and still be extremely powerful but that's just because of how spell power advances and in the case of Cleric and Wizard how easy it is to change.  Just like you'll almost never see a Fighter 20 you're just as unlikely to see a Cleric, Sorcerer, or Wizard 20 because all of those classes work so well going into PrCs.
-snip-



No, see, you did it again!

All those things you said are true, and I agree with you on them. I'm just not sure why you're acting as if what you're saying makes the Warblade OP. The Warblade is far better than the Fighter, yes, but the Fighter is so UP that nobody really pays any attention to that.

If they had just made the Warblade a "fighter revision" and called it Fighter 2.0 instead, would you have the same problems with it? Because that's pretty much how I see warblades: fighters improved to an actually enjoyable level.
I've speculated about it before, but what the standard fighter really needs is more high-level feat options.  You've currently got a feat-intensive class, but an almost total lack of any high-requirement feats that can match what other classes receive.

Things like the Two-Weapon Fighting feats are one of the bigger feat stacks, and they actually provide diminishing returns.  Weapon Supremacy is the right sort of design, though its requirements make it less than ideal.  Currently, however, the fighter one works by achieving synergistic feat combinations, and the good ones are relatively few.

Not that a bunch of top-tier feats would make the fighter's fundamental design a good one, just a more functional one since it would actually have options.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome Lurker, Fulminating Crab, Ironglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.

the problem, Slagger, isn't really the high end feats. High end feats tend to be about damage, and Weapon Supremacy is a great high end feat.  PF introduced crit feats...anyone can take 'em, but only fighters have the bonus feats to take lots of them.


The problem with Fighters is those damn feats keep getting burned on so much minor *(^(&*^ crap that doesn't scale, and tend to be half the power of a 'real' class ability.


No fighter should have to burn more then one feat on weapon spec. It should just scale. Instead, the whole tree (including imp critical) is SIX FEATS.


Argh.


And having to qualify for your own class abilities, unlike, say, THE MONK, is just plain wrong.


If fighter feats auto-scaled, no one would care about high end feats, because the feats themselves would all eventually be high end.


And that's on top of the whole versatility argument.


==Aelryinth

Fighter vs Warblade analysis http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19573526/Analyzing_the_Fighter_vs_The_Warblade The Lockdown F/20 iconic build http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19856162/A_little_Lock_build_for_you
The problem with Fighters is those damn feats keep getting burned on so much minor *(^(&*^ crap that doesn't scale, and tend to be half the power of a 'real' class ability.

No fighter should have to burn more then one feat on weapon spec. It should just scale. Instead, the whole tree (including imp critical) is SIX FEATS.


Argh.


And having to qualify for your own class abilities, unlike, say, THE MONK, is just plain wrong.




See what I mean? Feats aren't a substitute for class abilities. Therefore, designing a class that has nothing but feats is bad design.

Incidentally, I agree with virtually every word of yours I just quoted. So many feats would make excellent fighter class features, but were rolled into feats instead. Likewise, so many of them require three or more feats to get that by the time the fighter is able to do his ONE signature trick, everyone else has FIFTEEN. 

And that's beside the Tome arguments. I maintain that simply doing a 1:1 feat:maneuver comparison is missing the point, though. 

If fighter feats auto-scaled, no one would care about high end feats, because the feats themselves would all eventually be high end.



The Tome of Battle figured this out: You can get Whirlwind Attack around the same time Mithral Tornado comes online (the former is slightly better with reach, the latter is faster but limited to 1/enc), but there's a lower-scale version of it (Steel Wind) and an upper-scale version (Adamantine Hurricane). And the prerequisites are adjusted because, honestly, that ability Just Isn't That Uber, particularly with the maneuver use limits.

(If you want MORE proof of BIJNTU, the "3.75" Saga Edition game - using WotC development, not Paizo - made Spring Attack better (you can use it melee or ranged) AND removed its prerequisites, and the game didn't snap open. Do that, and a third of the prereqs for Whirlwind just vanish.) 

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Bleed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

the problem, Slagger, isn't really the high end feats. High end feats tend to be about damage, and Weapon Supremacy is a great high end feat.  PF introduced crit feats...anyone can take 'em, but only fighters have the bonus feats to take lots of them.

The problem with Fighters is those damn feats keep getting burned on so much minor *(^(&*^ crap that doesn't scale, and tend to be half the power of a 'real' class ability.


That's kind of my point; feats are treated as if they're a viable class feature for the fighter, but there aren't any feats built to be functional at high levels.  Requiring a bunch of crappy, minor feats as prerequisites is part of that lack of functionality.

The feats made available to the fighter aren't good enough to do the job, but there is no real reason that better feats couldn't have been made (either in terms of their direct effectiveness, scaling, versaility, or by having simpler prerequisites).

Incidentally, I agree with virtually every word of yours I just quoted. So many feats would make excellent fighter class features, but were rolled into feats instead. Likewise, so many of them require three or more feats to get that by the time the fighter is able to do his ONE signature trick, everyone else has FIFTEEN.

I, essentially, do also agree with what Aelryinth is saying; I'm just making a different point about it.

What I'm saying is that if fighters had been given feat support in the same way that wizards were given spell support, they could have been more competitive on the tier system.  It's not necessarily the best kind of design, but it could have worked even within the original framework laid down in the PHB.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome Lurker, Fulminating Crab, Ironglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
Well, let me put it another way then.

Feats should auto scale. The numbers should get better.

But the problem is that feats are generally designed for one 'trick'.

Weapon Supremacy is an ultra-cool feat because it does like FOUR THINGS. Weapons in a grapple, take 11, +5 on an interative, and something else I forget.

The combat line of feats like Shock Trooper can be awesome, because they allow multiple things that are useful.

Spring attack with no prereqs and any weapon is awesome!

Now, try to make up more feats like that that are worth taking and are not overpowered. Furthermore, try to make them and keep lower level feats viable.

It goes against the simplicity of feats.

When I count feat-equivalents for the Warblade, I count the ability to swap in a new manuver for an old one as a new feat. Because it's exactly like getting all the benefits up to  Greater Weapon Spec  while throwing out Weapon Focus. Tempest's multiple hurricane example is another one...throw out the old huricane, grab the better one. The fighter would have to spend another feat and get stuck with the old one.

It's another +9 feat-equivs for the Warblade, and likely even stronger since one swap can effectively 'jump' multiple levels at one time if need be.

Meh. I'm arguing about how I agree with you in spirit. Fighters do rile up emotions, don't they?

==Aelryinth
Fighter vs Warblade analysis http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19573526/Analyzing_the_Fighter_vs_The_Warblade The Lockdown F/20 iconic build http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19856162/A_little_Lock_build_for_you
Well, let me put it another way then.

Feats should auto scale. The numbers should get better.

But the problem is that feats are generally designed for one 'trick'.

Weapon Supremacy is an ultra-cool feat because it does like FOUR THINGS. Weapons in a grapple, take 11, +5 on an interative, and something else I forget.

The combat line of feats like Shock Trooper can be awesome, because they allow multiple things that are useful.

A lot of potential was there from the very start, though it may not be immediately obvious.  A quick pan over the core feats reveals examples like Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Endurance, and Natural Spell that provide two or three separate, but closely related, benefits within their theme (they're not all really good benefits, but there were multiple benefits put into one feat).  The difference with tactical feats like Shock Trooper is just that the related benefits are formed into specific and distinct maneuvers.

But the big one to which I'd draw attention is Stunning Fist.  Written in this single feat prioritized for monks is a heap of potential that could have easily served as the model for fighter feats.  Not only does it scale (automatically providing a better DC and more daily uses as you advance in level), it also works better for a specific class and even allows that class to gain it more easily as a bonus feat.
Spring attack with no prereqs and any weapon is awesome!

Now, try to make up more feats like that that are worth taking and are not overpowered. Furthermore, try to make them and keep lower level feats viable.

It goes against the simplicity of feats.

As far as the viability of lower-level feats is concerned, some of them just aren't worthwhile choices to begin with; Dodge is one of the classic examples of a feat that almost no-one takes for its own benefit because its benefit is pretty mediocre.

I'm certainly up for a challenge, so if you've got something that you think a fighter needs, or a particular feat that doesn't do its job properly for the fighter, I'll produce the feat for it (or perhaps the feat that it should have been).  For the moment, I'll borrow from Stunning Fist to more directly illustrate how such a design can serve the fighter.  It will be kind of rough since I hacked this together in the past handful of minutes.

SPELLCUTTER [General]
Through extraordinary focus and natural talent, you can strike at just the right moment to disperse or deflect a spell and spare yourself from harm.
Prerequisites: Concentration 5 ranks, Combat Reflexes, Magical Aptitude
Benefit: You substitute an attack roll with a wielded weapon for your Armour Class against a single attack made with a spell or spell-like ability, or for your saving throw against a spell or spell-like ability.  Using this feat does not require an action, but you cannot use it while flat-footed.  You may use a spellcutter attack once per day for every four levels you have attained (but see Special), and no more than once per round.  The spell or spell-like ability must produce a visible result for your weapon to intercept.
Special: A fighter with Combat Reflexes may select Spellcutter as one of his fighter bonus feats, even if he does not meet the other prerequisites.  A fighter who selects this feat may use a spellcutter attack a number of times per day equal to his fighter level, plus one more time per day for every four levels he has in classes other than fighter.

EDIT: Added the flat-footed bit to Spellcutter.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome Lurker, Fulminating Crab, Ironglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
A lot of potential was there from the very start, though it may not be immediately obvious.  A quick pan over the core feats reveals examples like Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Endurance, and Natural Spell that provide two or three separate, but closely related, benefits within their theme (they're not all really good benefits, but there were multiple benefits put into one feat).  The difference with tactical feats like Shock Trooper is just that the related benefits are formed into specific and distinct maneuvers.


The other thing with Shock Trooper and related tactical feats is that those maneuvers are all highly situational (too situational to justify a single feat all by themselves - well, most of them. Shock Trooper itself is perhaps the most egregious example), and all rely on specific actions from the player to trigger. Compare to, say, Weapon Focus, which provides a passive modification to extant numbers. Even though you're 'using' Weapon Focus on every attack roll, it never feels like it, and it doesn't really change the way you play.

I made a similar point years ago in the context of class design. Interestingly, for completely independent reasons, I also used the Fighter / Warblade difference to drive the point home.
I should add that if you have a lot of class abilities that scale by level, you can also get by with this. [TS: I was referring to having a mostly empty "Special" column.] 

The classic "bad" dead level is Fighter 5. You play EXACTLY the same way you did as Fighter 4, except with slightly different numbers. 

This is, at its core, what the no-dead-level approach is meant to avoid. You don't need flashy new abilities at each level, but the character should feel more powerful, more versatile, or similar at every level. He should NOT feel "just like I was, but more so". 

(Note a quick comparison in general design philosophy with core melee and ToB characters, by the way -- core melee use the same tactics at level 20 that they do at level 1, more or less: charge, full attack. They have some new features (spells, rages, unique feats, etc) to make the delivery of these tactics possible, and to make the numbers bigger... but it's still the same tactics. Meanwhile, a warblade at level 20 plays significantly different from one at level 1, even if fundamentally they still involve move-in-and-attack. It's because they get options -- and they get them at every level, so it feels good to be a warblade every time you level up. Make your class something you'd want to feel proud to be.)



But the big one to which I'd draw attention is Stunning Fist.  Written in this single feat prioritized for monks is a heap of potential that could have easily served as the model for fighter feats.  Not only does it scale (automatically providing a better DC and more daily uses as you advance in level), it also works better for a specific class and even allows that class to gain it more easily as a bonus feat.



I'd like to add Manyshot to this list. It also has automatic scaling (via base attack), a tight relationship with a particular class (rangers, although they don't get as much to support it as monks do to support Stunning Fist), and great potential for specific feat interactions (within core, this is most noticable with Precise Shot. Sadly this is also a dropped opportunity: rangers get Rapid Shot as a style feat, and still need to take Point Blank Shot if they want to learn Precise Shot.)

Sadly, I can't think of other examples from the core books that work this way, unless you consider item creation feats (more XP per encounter by CR means the amount you can use it increases with level, what you can accomplish with them increases with spell selection, and the feats have interesting interactions with specific classes).

As far as the viability of lower-level feats is concerned, some of them just aren't worthwhile choices to begin with; Dodge is one of the classic examples of a feat that almost no-one takes for its own benefit because its benefit is pretty mediocre.

Dodge is also an interesting case for another reason: There's a lot of things that substitute for it as a prerequisite (Expeditious Dodge, Desert Wind Dodge, Midnight Dodge, etc.), in an obvious example of WotC "patching" the system, but many of them give up the idea of a "dodge target". Contrariwise, several of the things that have Dodge as a prerequisite interact with your Dodge target (most dramatically Elusive Target). So if you try to take one of the patch feats, many of the reasons to consider taking them in the first place go out the window.

(Spellcutter's an interesting feat from a design standpoint too, I'll say: including Magical Aptitude (and, presumably, using other +2/+2 feats as prereqs for similarly-designed options) as a prereq but attaching the bypass for fighters is a stroke of genius. Still needs some massaging and testing (i.e. as written it works when you're flat-footed, which is probably fine but goes against the description of the feat, and I'm not sure if the fighter bypass should skip every prerequisite, or if it should have a minimum fighter level attached), but that's not a bad mark in my books. Good job!)

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Bleed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

A lot of potential was there from the very start, though it may not be immediately obvious.  A quick pan over the core feats reveals examples like Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Endurance, and Natural Spell that provide two or three separate, but closely related, benefits within their theme (they're not all really good benefits, but there were multiple benefits put into one feat).  The difference with tactical feats like Shock Trooper is just that the related benefits are formed into specific and distinct maneuvers.

The other thing with Shock Trooper and related tactical feats is that those maneuvers are all highly situational (too situational to justify a single feat all by themselves - well, most of them. Shock Trooper itself is perhaps the most egregious example), and all rely on specific actions from the player to trigger.

What they have in common is that they combine multiple benefits to make up the total value of a feat.  Tactical feats are just a specific way to do it, though I've only written a couple of them, myself.
Compare to, say, Weapon Focus, which provides a passive modification to extant numbers. Even though you're 'using' Weapon Focus on every attack roll, it never feels like it, and it doesn't really change the way you play.

Interestingly, this is also different if it's just a number modification, or if an effect (feat or otherwise) provides a mechanical alteration that you actually need to remember, like Combat Reflexes allowing you to make multiple attacks of opportunity, and to do so while flat-footed.  Unlike the numbers, which are typically modified on the character sheet and easily forgotten, you're more frequently keeping the effect in mind due to its change to the standard, so you end up feeling like it makes a more substantial difference (regardless of whether or its impact on the effectiveness of a character is greater or lesser).
Sadly, I can't think of other examples from the core books that work this way, unless you consider item creation feats (more XP per encounter by CR means the amount you can use it increases with level, what you can accomplish with them increases with spell selection, and the feats have interesting interactions with specific classes).

The other big feat in core material is Leadership.  In addition to being large and complicated, it scales by level (through the leadership score), functions independent of any particular class, has almost no prerequisites, and is quite simply the strongest feat in existence.

It's not an especially good example of how to make feats, though.
Dodge is also an interesting case for another reason: There's a lot of things that substitute for it as a prerequisite (Expeditious Dodge, Desert Wind Dodge, Midnight Dodge, etc.), in an obvious example of WotC "patching" the system, but many of them give up the idea of a "dodge target". Contrariwise, several of the things that have Dodge as a prerequisite interact with your Dodge target (most dramatically Elusive Target). So if you try to take one of the patch feats, many of the reasons to consider taking them in the first place go out the window.

Despite many different opinions on what it should be doing, my only real complaint with Dodge is that its +1 bonus is too small to be meaningful.  If it simply had a larger set bonus, or a scaling bonus, you'd actually feel more of the effect from focusing on your defense against a specific opponent and it wouldn't seem like such a lousy feat.
(Spellcutter's an interesting feat from a design standpoint too, I'll say: including Magical Aptitude (and, presumably, using other +2/+2 feats as prereqs for similarly-designed options) as a prereq but attaching the bypass for fighters is a stroke of genius. Still needs some massaging and testing (i.e. as written it works when you're flat-footed, which is probably fine but goes against the description of the feat, and I'm not sure if the fighter bypass should skip every prerequisite, or if it should have a minimum fighter level attached), but that's not a bad mark in my books. Good job!)

The weird thing is that the basic idea of the different prerequisites and such show up like this in what is literally the first core book, then sinks virtually without a trace.  Setting aside the feats that are directly powered by Stunning Fist uses (which don't really count as separate), the next example that comes to mind is with the much later domain feats, which can be used 1/day, but receive additional uses through turn attempts.

I might add the flat-footed bit to Spellcutter (though part of the point of Combat Reflexes is being able to make quick attacks even while flat-footed, but I'd also like to hear more about what kind of feats the fighter really needs (either new ones, or rewrites).  Although I've mostly made things for my campaign world, feats have generally been my area of focus.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome Lurker, Fulminating Crab, Ironglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.

Two comments, since I go on the PF boards, too.


Dodge in PF is a fixed bonus, no 'target'.


There is a spellcutter among the rage options for a barbarian...smashes spells. In their new race book, they intro'd a feat for fighters to be able to smash spells. 1/day, +1/5 levels, max of 3 times.


I was rather underwhelmed, but +1 AC for a feat didn't feel that bad...the Fighter should jsut have gotten more out of it. I would have preferred something along the lines of "If you are a fighter, your Dodge increases by the amount of your Armor Mastery, but you gain no additional Dex limit if you choose this option."

Which would mean it would auto-scale, and you wouldn't need a 24 Dex to max out a Mithral BP. Your Dodge bonus would scale by level with you.


==Aelryinth

Fighter vs Warblade analysis http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19573526/Analyzing_the_Fighter_vs_The_Warblade The Lockdown F/20 iconic build http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19856162/A_little_Lock_build_for_you


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Uh-oh.
Wink

Here comes your 19th forums breakdown ... ohh who's to blame, it ain't 5E driving you insane.