How much is too much reflavoring?

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Or is there such a thing?

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By reflavoring, I mean essentially re-skinning something that has the mechanical values you want into something else that fits more with what your character is.

I shall start with a mild example and move to an extreme. In my home campaign, my wife is playing a tiefling with historic pacts to infernal powers. Since she was very unhappy with the way the warlock played in a previous campaign, she rolled this character as a draconic sorcerer, ditched all references to dragons and credited his powers to his "demonic" blood. Worked for me, and she's quite happy with him.

For a more extreme example, from these boards. I was complaining in a thread that the glaive was underpowered compared to the other pole arms. The response I received was, since this character wasn't going to have heavy blade opportunity, to use a halberd and pretend it was a glaive. By the same token, I guess a rogue character could take the double sword, and pretend he's using a rapier a parrying dagger.

And another example. I really like the mechanics of the Avenger class, but dont' really like the divine aspect of them. So I had considered being an Avenger and just ignoring any flavor text that relates to the Gods and just describing it all as "L33T kung fu skillz!".

An even more extreme example, just theorycraft. I really dig the idea of the battlerager for my idea of a barbarian warrior, a la Conan (clad in mail, wielding a broadsword, cleaving through Vanir, Picts, and anyone else who gets in my way). But Wizards, in their inestimable wisdom, have decided that the dwarf is going to be the most mechanically superior battlerager, to the point that everybody else was far second (admittedly, it's not quite as bad since the update). They already got a bonus to con, and wisdom, a feat that made them superior with the exact kinds of weapons a battlerager was most likely to use; they also got a feat that gave them even more temp hps. It was maddening. I wanted to play a battlerager, but I didn't want to play a dwarf (and I didn't want to wield an axe either). So again, conceivably, I could reflavor it. I could "say" my character was a broadsword wielding human barbarian from the wild moors of Cimmeria named C0nan, while my character sheet said I was a dwarf fighter with an executioners axe and stoneblood vigor, and all those sweet high damage axe powers. Mechanically it would be the same, so what's the problem?

To me there are a few problems with this. First, there is generally one superior option in every situation, just like the double sword is always and everywhere better for a rogue than a rapier and parrying dagger. If we fully endorse reflavoring, there's never a reason to use less than the most powerful option; we just call that most powerful option whatever we want to. Second, it's silly, but I want my character sheet to reflect who my character is. I want C0nan's race to say "human". I want his weapon to say "broadsword" and I want those choices to be as viable as the ones Wizards believe I should want.


So the question is, how much reflavoring do you think is appropriate? Do you use one weapon for another (say a crossbow you call a longbow?) or do you use the dragonborn stats and call him some kind of elf? Or do you think these things are anathema?

EDIT: And some questions that I thought up later:
In your games, are there some things that you have re-flavored?

Does it extend to helping create rules for things that don't exist yet (like guns or necromancers) or do you allow characters to re-flavor mechanical aspects of the game to let them have the mechanics they want with the flavor they prefer? How do they like it?

If you don't, does this cause frustration when players want a certain flavor, but don't like the underlying mechanics?

And do you think Wizards was right to make certain flavor choices have such large mechanical ramifications?
Most of those I would probably not let fly. That said - it's up to the DM of the campaign. (period - end of sentence)
Through the ages, many would wonder "Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?" I wonder "Does the art of discourse on the internet imitate the art of discourse in life or does the art of discourse in life imitate the art of discourse on the internet?"
Or is there such a thing?

By reflavoring, I mean essentially re-skinning something that has the mechanical values you want into something else that fits more with what your character is.

I included a few example cases of what I'm talking about behind the block, just to get the ball rolling.

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I shall start with a mild example and move to an extreme. In my home campaign, my wife is playing a tiefling with historic pacts to infernal powers. Since she was very unhappy with the way the warlock played in a previous campaign, she rolled this character as a draconic sorcerer, ditched all references to dragons and credited his powers to his "demonic" blood. Worked for me, and she's quite happy with him.

For a more extreme example, from these boards. I was complaining in a thread that the glaive was underpowered compared to the other pole arms. The response I received was, since this character wasn't going to have heavy blade opportunity, to use a halberd and pretend it was a glaive. By the same token, I guess a rogue character could take the double sword, and pretend he's using a rapier a parrying dagger.

And another example. I really like the mechanics of the Avenger class, but dont' really like the divine aspect of them. So I had considered being an Avenger and just ignoring any flavor text that relates to the Gods and just describing it all as "L33T kung fu skillz!".

An even more extreme example, just theorycraft. I really dig the idea of the battlerager for my idea of a barbarian warrior, a la Conan (clad in mail, wielding a broadsword, cleaving through Vanir, Picts, and anyone else who gets in my way). But Wizards, in their inestimable wisdom, have decided that the dwarf is going to be the most mechanically superior battlerager, to the point that everybody else was far second (admittedly, it's not quite as bad since the update). They already got a bonus to con, and wisdom, a feat that made them superior with the exact kinds of weapons a battlerager was most likely to use; they also got a feat that gave them even more temp hps. It was maddening. I wanted to play a battlerager, but I didn't want to play a dwarf (and I didn't want to wield an axe either). So again, conceivably, I could reflavor it. I could "say" my character was a broadsword wielding human barbarian from the wild moors of Cimmeria named C0nan, while my character sheet said I was a dwarf fighter with an executioners axe and stoneblood vigor, and all those sweet high damage axe powers. Mechanically it would be the same, so what's the problem?

To me there are a few problems with this. First, there is generally one superior option in every situation, just like the double sword is always and everywhere better for a rogue than a rapier and parrying dagger. If we fully endorse reflavoring, there's never a reason to use less than the most powerful option; we just call that most powerful option whatever we want to. Second, one might thing it's silly, but I want my character sheet to reflect who my character is. I want C0nan's race to say "human". I want his weapon to say "broadsword" and I want those choices to be as viable as the ones Wizards believe I should want.


So the question is, how much reflavoring do you think is appropriate? Do you modify the flavor text of a class (maybe call your ranger a rogue, or your wizard a necromancer)? Do you use one weapon for another (say a crossbow you call a longbow?) or do you use the dragonborn stats and call him some kind of elf? Or do you think these things are anathema?
somehow you ended with 2 threads (perhaps because I was responding)

My answer, from the other:
Most of those I would probably not let fly. That said - it's up to the DM of the campaign. (period - end of sentence)
Through the ages, many would wonder "Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?" I wonder "Does the art of discourse on the internet imitate the art of discourse in life or does the art of discourse in life imitate the art of discourse on the internet?"
I, personally, allow any amount of reflavoring my players want to undertake.
Color me flattered.

Thank_Dog wrote:

2Chlorobutanal wrote:
I think that if you have to argue to convince others about the clarity of something, it's probably not as objectively clear as you think.

No, what it means is that some people just like to be obtuse.

Ack, somehow I got two threads. Could mods please delete this one?
Sorry about the double post. I was doing some editing, and accidentally posted this before it was ready. But I moved the editing to this one so it should be fine for comments.
Most of those I would probably not let fly. That said - it's up to the DM of the campaign. (period - end of sentence)

I am curious though, should the DM allow it? You, as a DM wouldn't let a player do this. I'm curious why.

Personally, I agree with you, as I put in my post. I'm already playing a pretend game; I don't want to pretend the things in the game are other things in the game. But I'm interested in others' reasons.
Depends on the DM. Me, I'll allow quite a bit of reflavoring for class, even changing power sources if the flavor justifies it. Weapons I will allow a small bit of reflavoring. For example, your shortsword could be a wakizashi. Your battle axe could actually be a simple wood axe. On the other hand, your longsword cannot be a dagger, and your mace is not a pick or an axe. For race, I usually only allow reflavoring if the race does not fit in my campaign. For example, I don't have devas in my world, but I allowed a character to take the deva stats and reskin him as an elf (since elves in my world reincarnate, it made sense that some of them might tap into their previous lives).

Basically, for me it boils down to the difference between what your character does and what your character is.
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
I am curious though, should the DM allow it? You, as a DM wouldn't let a player do this. I'm curious why.

Personally, I agree with you, as I put in my post. I'm already playing a pretend game; I don't want to pretend the things in the game are other things in the game. But I'm interested in others' reasons.

There's a whole thread on this here.
Color me flattered.

Thank_Dog wrote:

2Chlorobutanal wrote:
I think that if you have to argue to convince others about the clarity of something, it's probably not as objectively clear as you think.

No, what it means is that some people just like to be obtuse.

I wouldn't have a problem with any of those examples because they have zero effect on gameplay and balance. People should be allowed to invent whatever flavor they want and pick out the mechanics they want so that they can actually play exactly what they want.

In fact, I can't think of a single game i'm involved in right now that doesn't have all kinds of reflavoring. In a game i'm running there is a warforged who is mechanically a dwarf, a wizard who uses guns that are mechanically wands, an undead shaman who summons a tortured fragment of his soul instead of an animal companion, and pretty much every race is completely reflavored. Im also playing in one game where i am a human that uses dragonborn mechanics, we have a deva who is mechanically a dwarf and we have a goliath bard who has a little girl that "cast spells" when he holds her out in front of him. In another game i play in, all my gear is reflavored as different guns.

This is a game of make-believe where we sit around, make up a story and have fun. It seems totally pointless to me to be worried about arbitrarily shackling Flavor X to Mechanic Y. Let the mechanics be the mechanics and get as creative as you want with the flavor.
I wouldn't have a problem with any of those examples because they have zero effect on gameplay and balance. People should be allowed to invent whatever flavor they want and pick out the mechanics they want so that they can actually play exactly what they want.

In fact, I can't think of a single game i'm involved in right now that doesn't have all kinds of reflavoring. In a game i'm running there is a warforged who is mechanically a dwarf, a wizard who uses guns that are mechanically wands, an undead shaman who summons a tortured fragment of his soul instead of an animal companion, and pretty much every race is completely reflavored. Im also playing in one game where i am a human that uses dragonborn mechanics, we have a deva who is mechanically a dwarf and we have a goliath bard who has a little girl that "cast spells" when he holds her out in front of him. In another game i play in, all my gear is reflavored as different guns.

This is a game of make-believe where we sit around, make up a story and have fun. It seems totally pointless to me to be worried about arbitrarily shackling Flavor X to Mechanic Y. Let the mechanics be the mechanics and get as creative as you want with the flavor.
There's a whole thread on this here.

Yes, but I feel that it didn't answer the question I was curious about, like how much we should allow reflavoring when the option we are reflavoring to is already in the game.

I kind of wish I'd put that in my opening post now but it took me a while to write in between doing the stuff they pay me to do, and it got left out. But there it is now.
not a problem - as to why I wouldn't....

details

It assists me to have a baseline of evolution for my campaign world. Beginning with the earliest stages as given in the canon. With regard to cosmology, itself, I try to keep everything to that baseline. Once that has been established, a "natural evolution" of powers and sources becomes inherently available. Now - I said MOST for a reason - the draconic forces are similar enough to the demonic (fire/acid/lightning/frost) to allow such a reflavoring.

The weapon, I wouldn't - a glaive has certain properties/benefits (and may have more in future errata) that the halberd does not, and vice versa. Now - I've stated before that I try NOT to say no to a player. My solution for this would be along the lines of placing that character's birth in a culture where a different weapon existed. The weapon would need a new "cultural" name, whose origin is said to lie with the glaive. This new weapon would be functionally equivalent to a halberd (which means the fluff of its origin would need to cover any revisions from the glaive original)

Finally, the dwarf/human - no. I would under NO circumstance change racial feats - these (to me) are inherent. (they should be discernible by a knowledge check and be consistent across the race)
Through the ages, many would wonder "Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?" I wonder "Does the art of discourse on the internet imitate the art of discourse in life or does the art of discourse in life imitate the art of discourse on the internet?"
I allow for a lot of reflavouring in my campaigns, going so far as to allow a mandrill monk using the halfling crunch and a half mummy player using the shadar'kai stats. Mostly my allowing for such things is "does it serve the story": in this case, the entire group decided to base their PCs on Disney characters (I almost wish I was making that up) and the idea of having Rafiki from The Lion King sounded cool. Mowgli was raised by gnolls, so he uses gnoll stats despite being human as it fits well with the concept. Reflavouring powers I pretty much let the players go mad with: one player even has three or four different descriptions of the same powers.

So generally, my ruling is if it's presented with cool and interesting backstory, go for it; if you're purely munchkining something and have put absolutely zero effort into justification, not a chance.
in this case, the entire group decided to base their PCs on Disney characters (I almost wish I was making that up) and the idea of having Rafiki from The Lion King sounded cool. Mowgli was raised by gnolls, so he uses gnoll stats despite being human as it fits well with the concept. Reflavouring powers I pretty much let the players go mad with: one player even has three or four different descriptions of the same powers.

I always wanted to run a game based on the Wizard of Oz, where someone is human (Dorothy), warforged (tinman), shifter (cowardly lion), and my homebrewed plant race (scarecrow). I supposed i could swap in a reflavored shadar-kai or wilden for the scarecrow as well.
....arbitrarily shackling Flavor X to Mechanic Y.

Some people don't see it as being arbitrary, though.

Some people want the flavor/mechanics connections to be based on logic.

...and some people don't care.


The answer to "How much is too much"? It completely depends on the group. If someone in a group has a problem with a particular flavor/mechanic combination (i.e. it just doesn't "sit well with them"), then it's too much for that group.
I would think Wilden for the scarecrow :D
Through the ages, many would wonder "Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?" I wonder "Does the art of discourse on the internet imitate the art of discourse in life or does the art of discourse in life imitate the art of discourse on the internet?"
Some people don't see it as being arbitrary, though.

Some people want the flavor/mechanics connections to be based on logic.

Oh, I like things to be based on logic too. I just think it should be the individual player who gets to come up with logic for his individual PC.
I'm pretty divided on the whole subject. I definitely want to encourage player creativity and let them run whatever sorts of characters they want. On the other hand I see a lot of this type of reflavoring as being rather munchkinesque. Why does the guy want to wield a halberd and call it a glaive? Because a halberd is better! Well, sometimes we don't get to eat our cake and have it too. I see racial reflavoring where the player wants to make a dwarf that is skinned as a dragonborn or something. Its min/maxing and has nothing to do with fluff.

Now, if players want to play mummies and whatever, that's a different story. Now we're really essentially house ruling in a new race, we just happen to make our lives simple and call it a dwarf or whatever. I'd even be OK with the example of the deva that is called an elf, there is a genuine vision of a character that would be well supported by the alternate mechanics.

One of the things that makes me not too fond of casual reskinning is the idea of basic consistency. Dwarves have certain features as a race and those features support the flavor of the dwarven race. If half the dwarves in the game are mechanically elves, humans, etc then what really is a dwarf anymore? You can't look at something and know the first thing about it since it could REALLY mechanically be anything at all. I think it subtly degrades the internal consistency of the world.

Of course I could imagine a setting where there is essentially no consistency by design. Some kind of Alice in Wonderland game where nothing is what it seems, etc. That would be a case where I probably would just say "heck, do anything you want people."

Honestly I've found that most of the players I know would rather their dwarf was a dwarf and their axe was an axe. I think they enjoy working with the strengths and weaknesses of things. Not that they are optimizers (by any means) but I think they see part of the game as being getting the most out what you are vs just inventing whatever stats you feel like having.

As an interesting related question to the people that allow limitless reflavoring, why do you bother to limit people to what's in the book at all? Why not just let the players invent any set of stats they mutually feel is going to work for their game? I mean why not just let the elf have whatever abilities makes sense for someone who's reincarnated regardless of what mechanics there are?
That is not dead which may eternal lie
On the other hand I see a lot of this type of reflavoring as being rather munchkinesque. Why does the guy want to wield a halberd and call it a glaive? Because a halberd is better! Well, sometimes we don't get to eat our cake and have it too. I see racial reflavoring where the player wants to make a dwarf that is skinned as a dragonborn or something. Its min/maxing and has nothing to do with fluff.

Im calling bull on this. What "munchkin" advantage does someone get by saying their halberd is a glaive in game? Thats right, zero. Its only for story purposes. Likewise, what special min/max advantage do you get by running a dragonborn with dwarf mechanics? Nada. Unless there is some special prejudice against halberds or dwarves in the specific campaign world, there simply is no "munchkinism" present.

Not that they are optimizers (by any means) but I think they see part of the game as being getting the most out what you are vs just inventing whatever stats you feel like having.

What? Who said anything about inventing whatever stats you want?

As an interesting related question to the people that allow limitless reflavoring, why do you bother to limit people to what's in the book at all? Why not just let the players invent any set of stats they mutually feel is going to work for their game? I mean why not just let the elf have whatever abilities makes sense for someone who's reincarnated regardless of what mechanics there are?

No one is talking about making up stats, at all. Its all about making up flavor for the mechanics in the book.
does someone get by saying their halberd is a glaive in game?

First - if what I read was correct (don't recall the thread, hopefully it will ring a bell with someone) - this is against RAW. Something about an obvious threat.

Beyond that - the problem is that the glaive is already defined in the game. If you say you have a glaive - anyone at the table should be able to look up glaive and see what you're doing. If glaive didn't exist - you'd be fine. Now - if you want to just invent new stats for the glaive, fine. However, don't then ask:

Who said anything about inventing whatever stats you want?

Through the ages, many would wonder "Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?" I wonder "Does the art of discourse on the internet imitate the art of discourse in life or does the art of discourse in life imitate the art of discourse on the internet?"
oh, and for clarification...
















What does the character want the stats of the glaive to be?
Through the ages, many would wonder "Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?" I wonder "Does the art of discourse on the internet imitate the art of discourse in life or does the art of discourse in life imitate the art of discourse on the internet?"
how much we should allow reflavoring when the option we are reflavoring to is already in the game.

This is where I draw the line. The assumptions others have when they encounter your reflavored element is thrown askew when reflavoring mixes the flavor of one existing mechanic element into areas that have different mechanics involved:
  • glaive to halberd
  • double sword to rapier and dagger
  • dwarf to human
Reflavoring a crossbow into a handgun works because there are not handguns in the rules.
Reflavoring a magic missile into an iron-man-like chest pulsar for your warforged is fine.
But reflavoring a dwarf into a human? We already have both of these, with mechanical assumptions reasonably applied to both.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
First - if what I read was correct (don't recall the thread, hopefully it will ring a bell with someone) - this is against RAW. Something about an obvious threat.

??? I have no clue to what you are referring. There is nothing in the rules stopping you from describing your halberd as having a long, cutting end instead of an axehead. Its a minor flavor thing.

Beyond that - the problem is that the glaive is already defined in the game. If you say you have a glaive - anyone at the table should be able to look up glaive and see what you're doing. If glaive didn't exist - you'd be fine. Now - if you want to just invent new stats for the glaive, fine.

Why are people at the table looking things up to dissect what you are doing? If you describe your character as using glaive, no one in the game world is going to be any the wiser. What is the problem?

However, don't then ask:

I repeat: who said anything about making up stats? Not I.
This is where I draw the line. The assumptions others have when they encounter your reflavored element is thrown askew when reflavoring mixes the flavor of one existing mechanic element into areas that have different mechanics involved:
  • glaive to halberd
  • double sword to rapier and dagger
  • dwarf to human
Reflavoring a crossbow into a handgun works because there are not handguns in the rules.
Reflavoring a magic missile into an iron-man-like chest pulsar for your warforged is fine.
But reflavoring a dwarf into a human? We already have both of these, with mechanical assumptions reasonably applied to both.

Thank you, Seeker - you put it much more eloquently than I.
Through the ages, many would wonder "Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?" I wonder "Does the art of discourse on the internet imitate the art of discourse in life or does the art of discourse in life imitate the art of discourse on the internet?"
??? I have no clue to what you are referring. There is nothing in the rules stopping you from describing your halberd as having a long, cutting end instead of an axehead. Its a minor flavor thing.

Not really, when you consider that you are not able to use heavy blade powers with it. Similarly, the powers available to axes are NOT available to the glaive.

edited to add: perhaps this will help - you can call it a glaive, but it isn't, it's a halberd. (it walks like a halberd, quacks like a halberd...)
Through the ages, many would wonder "Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?" I wonder "Does the art of discourse on the internet imitate the art of discourse in life or does the art of discourse in life imitate the art of discourse on the internet?"
I would say that a Dungeon Master should be extremely careful with almost all attempts by players to reflavour things themselves: it is usually an attempt either to circumvent the social mores of the game (humans may be more socially acceptable than dwarves in some places) or to inject some ridiculous elements from another genre (perhaps anime or the modern era).

On the other hand the Dungeon Master should feel free to reflavour as much as he likes to create his world.

For example, in one of my worlds, players are all humans, but they can choose the statistics and powers from any one race. This does not reflect their different human race however: it is simply their heroic birthright, whether from family, magic, fate, the gods, devils or divine parentage.
Member of Grognards for 4th Edition
oh, and for clarification...

(glaive info)

What does the character want the stats of the glaive to be?

Either a +3 to hit or a 1d10 damage.

This came up because a player in one of my games had a cleric of the Raven Queen that wanted to use a curved glaive (intended to look scythe-like-as you can see there was a little re-flavoring going on already, but within the confines a what a glaive "is"). After a couple of sessions, she came to me and pointed out the halberd had the same accuracy and more damage for no apparent good reason. The general consensus on the boards as I understand is that heavy blade opportunity and pole arm gamble are such a good combo that the lower accuracy compared to other heavy blades is necessary to counteract it (I have my own opinions on the matter, but they're not really germane here). Since this character was a cleric with a DEX of 8, HBO was not really an option, so she was paying a mechanical penalty to use a particular weapon that suited her character but had no other in-game benefit. It wasn't a big penalty, I think rolling 2 d4's annoyed her more than the average 1 less damage compared to a halberd she was doing, but there was no reason for it. It was just unfair.

I was railing in a thread at how I thought that the glaive was underpowered for no good reason and the response I got was "use a halberd and pretend it's a glaive", which definitely would solve the mechanical issue, but for me, that's beyond the scope I really want to re-flavor things.

Again the point of all this wasn't to re-fight the glaive argument. Since it was my game, I just house ruled it to a +3 proficiency bonus to fit with the other heavy blades and called it a day (yes, I made her keep rolling the d4's, I'm mean like that).
The first one would be fine, as would the halberd. I would not allow the dwarf-reskinned-to-human.

I agree with Smiteasaur.

(Watches the Four Horsemen ride by)


What Seeker says explains it pretty well, though it's really a case-by-case basis.

Detour
I would say that a Dungeon Master should be extremely careful with almost all attempts by players to reflavour things themselves: it is usually an attempt either to circumvent the social mores of the game (humans may be more socially acceptable than dwarves in some places) or to inject some ridiculous elements from another genre (perhaps anime or the modern era).

There's nothing wrong with Anime, nor nothing inherently "ridiculous" about it compared to the abilities most Characters already have. Anime simply attempts to make things feel more dynamic than, say, a Tolkein-esque Campaign would. In that Campaign, a Magic Missile is a glittery burst of Arcane Energy that hits a guy in the chest. In an Anime-esque Campaign, the Magic Missile is a crimson-red bolt that tears off a guy's arm. There's nothing inherently ridiculous about either example; one simply attempts to pander to Suspension of Disbelief a bit more, while the other allows for as dynamic and stunning FX as the Player's mind can handle.
Resident Logic Cannon
Again the point of all this wasn't to re-fight the glaive argument. Since it was my game, I just house ruled it to a +3 proficiency bonus to fit with the other heavy blades and called it a day (yes, I made her keep rolling the d4's, I'm mean like that).

Which, btw - I (personally) find perfectly acceptable - it's a glaive - in fact - I wouldn't mind if you restatted it to be exactly like a halberd (keeping the heavyblade, as opposed to axe powers, however) . Nothing wrong with a +3 d10 glaive, in my book.
Through the ages, many would wonder "Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?" I wonder "Does the art of discourse on the internet imitate the art of discourse in life or does the art of discourse in life imitate the art of discourse on the internet?"
Either a +3 to hit or a 1d10 damage.

This came up because a player in one of my games had a cleric of the Raven Queen that wanted to use a curved glaive (intended to look scythe-like-as you can see there was a little re-flavoring going on already, but within the confines a what a glaive "is"). After a couple of sessions, she came to me and pointed out the halberd had the same accuracy and more damage for no apparent good reason. The general consensus on the boards as I understand is that heavy blade opportunity and pole arm gamble are such a good combo that the lower accuracy compared to other heavy blades is necessary to counteract it (I have my own opinions on the matter, but they're not really germane here). Since this character was a cleric with a DEX of 8, HBO was not really an option, so she was paying a mechanical penalty to use a particular weapon that suited her character but had no other in-game benefit. It wasn't a big penalty, I think rolling 2 d4's annoyed her more than the average 1 less damage compared to a halberd she was doing, but there was no reason for it. It was just unfair.

I was railing in a thread at how I thought that the glaive was underpowered for no good reason and the response I got was "use a halberd and pretend it's a glaive", which definitely would solve the mechanical issue, but for me, that's beyond the scope I really want to re-flavor things.

Again the point of all this wasn't to re-fight the glaive argument. Since it was my game, I just house ruled it to a +3 proficiency bonus to fit with the other heavy blades and called it a day (yes, I made her keep rolling the d4's, I'm mean like that).

You're the DM. Reflavour to your heart's content.

Wiggy
Not really, when you consider that you are not able to use heavy blade powers with it. Similarly, the powers available to axes are NOT available to the glaive.

Which doesnt really matter in game considering no one in the campaign setting knows about "heavy blade feat X" because its a metagame term. No one in the world is going to see the character waving his glaive around and think that he's doing something impossible because it doesn't have an axe-head. You are thinking very much in metagame terms instead of in-game terms.

I wouldn't mind if you restatted it to be exactly like a halberd (keeping the heavyblade, as opposed to axe powers, however) . Nothing wrong with a +3 d10 glaive, in my book.

This is exactly why reflavoring is often safer than messing around with the rules. The glaive is +2 because it has a strong property and is only martial, not to mention that Heavy Blades get one of the best weapon feats (HBO) which becomes borderline overpowered when combined with various elements that require polearms (Polearm momentum + PG + at-will pushing/sliding powers). Giving an extra +1 to hit and a die upgrade while keeping it martial is too strong for an already good weapon (now i get an +1 to trip anyone who tries to get near me!).

Reflavoring stuff is fine, but this goes to show that messing around the mechanics is a dangerous proposition.
Reflavoring stuff is fine, but this goes to show that messing around the mechanics is a dangerous proposition.

Only dangerous is someone actually brings a real polearm to the gaming tale. Wiggy
This is exactly why reflavoring is often safer than messing around with the rules. The glaive is +2 because it has a strong property and is only martial, not to mention that Heavy Blades get one of the best weapon feats (HBO) which becomes borderline overpowered when combined with various elements that require polearms (Polearm momentum + PG + at-will pushing/sliding powers). Giving an extra +1 to hit and a die upgrade while keeping it martial is too strong for an already good weapon (now i get an +1 to trip anyone who tries to get near me!).

Reflavoring stuff is fine, but this goes to show that messing around the mechanics is a dangerous proposition.

I said I wasn't going to, but here it is. I think it is far more likely that the glaive was an oversight owing to them accidentally leaving all of the two handed heavy blades a little underpowered compared to axes and hammers.

Show

Each 1 hand weapon...
longsword +3/1d8
scimitar +2/1d8 high crit
battle axe +2/1d10
war hammer +2/1d10

As you can see, 1 point of accuracy, 1 die step of damage, and the high crit property are each considered equal.

For the axe and the hammer, going from 1 to 2 hands upgraded the weapon 2 steps...
great axe damage die upgrades to 1d12, and it gains the high crit property
maul the damage die upgrades two steps, to 2d6

For the great sword, going from 1 to 2 hands only upgraded the weapon 1 step
great sword damage die upgrades 1 step, to 1d10,

Reach is worth 2 points in the weapon building matrix, so the great axe loses the high crit and 1 die step of damage to become the halberd. The great sword loses one point of accuracy and one die step of damage to become the glaive. But since the great sword started out behind, the glaive does too.

I posit that this is not because Heavy Blade Opportunity is such an awesome feat. One handed heavy blades are mechanically equivalent to their axe and hammer counterparts, and in AV, when they introduced the fullblade, it improves on the great sword by two steps, one die step of damage and giving it the high crit property, whereas the executioner's axe and mordenkrad are only one step improvements over their military counterparts, thus making them all equal. If the glaive was the only weapon out of line, I might make that assumption, but since the great sword is also underpowered, I think it was due to an uncorrected oversight. The fullblade provides a decent upgrade to the great sword and falchion, but there's no upgrade option currently for the glaive.

EDIT: I did make a mistake in the above but not one that actually takes away from the case I made. It turns out, that the great sword is increased by two steps. As explained below...

One handed damage die progression goes from 1d8-1d10-1d12, which is an increase of one point of average damage per increase.

For whatever reason, 2 handed weapons increase 1d8-2d4-1d10-1d12, adding an extra step between 1d8 and 1d10 that only increases the average damage by .5 points per increase. So the great swords gets a two step incease that is exactly mechanically equal to half of the increase the greataxe gets. So when you drop the glaive 2 steps back, it actually comes out weaker because of that 2d4 step in the progression.

I'm pretty sure weapons were balanced to themselves independent of other factors like what feats you could get with each of them. It's just that the way they set up the die progression chart created mechanical deficiencies down the line.
Which doesnt really matter in game considering no one in the campaign setting knows about "heavy blade feat X" because its a metagame term. No one in the world is going to see the character waving his glaive around and think that he's doing something impossible because it doesn't have an axe-head. You are thinking very much in metagame terms instead of in-game terms.

I agree with this, but I also think Salamndyr's observation on the Greatsword and the Glaive being inherently behind a bit.
Resident Logic Cannon
You are thinking very much in metagame terms instead of in-game terms.

No, I'm not - I'm thinking about the definition of words. A glaive is defined. Another example - would it be alright if everyone just called you a monkey? I mean you're not really a monkey - you're a person - but from now on - everyone in the world will call you a monkey. Alright?
Through the ages, many would wonder "Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?" I wonder "Does the art of discourse on the internet imitate the art of discourse in life or does the art of discourse in life imitate the art of discourse on the internet?"
Is this too much reflavouring?

I am thinking of making a proud Dragonborn warrior, who is dedicated to fighting for justice, and to bring back Arkohsia (sp). He was born from a special golden egg, granting him amazing adaptability with his breath weapon. Thus he mainly uses his breath to fight enemies, only using his sword as a backup.
Now he is statted out as a dragonborn sorceror, flavouring his powers as breath attacks. I also see him in scale or plate armour as well as wielding sword and shield, reflavouring a dagger as a sword, and cloth armour as scale. Note I do not want the mecahnical benefits of these (longsword is light blade doing d4 damage, scale armour gives +0 AC bonus.) I just like the look of it.

Pity I wont be able to play him. damn this DMing business! :P
To much reflavoring is when your DM or any of the other players even think of rolling their eyes.
If the reflavoring meets with the approval of the DM, is accepted by the players, and does not detract from the fun of anyone at the table then there is no such thing as too much reflavoring.
Gygaxian is NOT a slur. Those who use it as such should be punched in the face. Repeatedly.
What "munchkin" advantage does someone get by saying their halberd is a glaive in game? Thats right, zero. Its only for story purposes. Likewise, what special min/max advantage do you get by running a dragonborn with dwarf mechanics? Nada. Unless there is some special prejudice against halberds or dwarves in the specific campaign world, there simply is no "munchkinism" present.

I believe that you misunderstand the basis of the complaint. You see, the argument isn't that reflavouring mechanics is munchkinism; it's that it allows people to play the concepts that they want while engaging in munchkinism.




For my money, I and my players are free to reflavour anything as absolutely anything we want with the sole limitation that the end product still fits within the setting. My tiefling is actually a genasi, I've played with a fighter whose nodachi is actually a mordenkrad, a drow who's actually an elf, and soon I may well be bringing in a railgun-wielding artificer (with war-construct) who's actually a beastmaster ranger. Until the PH3 hits, I plan on running a soulknife who's actually a druid and a psychic warrior who's actually a barbarian.

If you want to be strong because your STR represents your ability to move things with your mind, knock yourself out! We use established mechanics (instead of just making them up as some have straw-manned) because those have been designed and playtested with balance in mind, but there's absolutely no reason not to describe those mechanics however we want.
(I employ zie/zie/zir as a gender-neutral counterpart to he/him/his. Just a heads-up.) Essentials definitely isn't for me as a player, and I feel that its design and implementation bear serious flaws which fill me with concern for the future of D&D, but I've come to the conclusion that it isn't going to destroy the game that I want to play. Indeed, I think that I could probably run a game for players using Essentials characters without it being much of a problem at all. Time will tell, I suppose.