Capping the endless "bonus" escalation?

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What are people's thoughts on capping the endless bonus escalations that occur in 3.x? E.g. uberAC's and uber-plusses even at low levels.

Thoughts?

jh

Gamer Chiropractor - Hafner Chiropractic 305 S. Kipling st,Suite C-2, Lakewood, Co 80226 hafnerchiropractic.com

That's what the wealth by level system is for.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
What are people's thoughts on capping the endless bonus escalations that occur in 3.x? E.g. uberAC's and uber-plusses even at low levels.

Thoughts?

jh

I'd personally like to see a general end to stacking bonuses or a severe reduction of bonus types. Maybe have "armor," "shield," "skill," and "magical."

No more enhancement, morale, luck, haste, resistance, circumstance, alchemical, deflection, insight, sacred, profane, racial, natural armor, haste, etc., etc. bonuses that mandate a spreadsheet.
Yeah, the highest AC I can imagine a character having is around 20 by level 1, and not much higher until you get to the "rich levels" (10+), unless you're giving way too much starting gold.

Halfling Archer:

+1 size
+5 dex (assuming he got one 18 that went into Dex)
+3 studded leather
+1 buckler
(+1 dodge?)

If you change it to a Kobold, you get an extra +1 natural armor. :D
Yeah, the highest AC I can imagine a character having is around 20 by level 1, and not much higher until you get to the "rich levels" (10+), unless you're giving way too much starting gold.

Halfling Archer:

+1 size
+5 dex (assuming he got one 18 that went into Dex)
+3 studded leather
+1 buckler
(+1 dodge?)

If you change it to a Kobold, you get an extra +1 natural armor. :D

Typically, a frontline 'tank' PC has an AC around 20+his class level, in my experience.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
What are people's thoughts on capping the endless bonus escalations that occur in 3.x? E.g. uberAC's and uber-plusses even at low levels.

Thoughts?

jh

Caps on bonuses, like caps on AC, are dumb. Reference 1st and 2nd e for examples.
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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.

Caps on bonuses, like caps on AC, are dumb. Reference 1st and 2nd e for examples.

Pretty much a good way to put it. If you don't want a PC to have a +5 Shield, don't give him one, or give him enough money to craft one.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Yeah, the highest AC I can imagine a character having is around 20 by level 1, and not much higher until you get to the "rich levels" (10+), unless you're giving way too much starting gold.

Even at level 1, a small character with banded mail plus heavy shield, dex 13, dodge, and shield specialization is quite affordable. That's AC 22 for two feats and 270 gp. Not that I think it's a problem, just noting that beating AC 20 isn't hard.
Warforged fighter with adamantine body, Dex 12 and a tower shield has an AC of 23 at level 1.
The best solution, IMO, is simply to let your DM dictate how much stacking he will allow.

Different groups will naturally have different views of just how much constitutes abusive stacking. There is no 1-size-fits-all approach to this, nor should there be.
The best solution, IMO, is simply to let your DM dictate how much stacking he will allow. Different groups will naturally have different views of just how much constitutes abusive stacking. There is no 1-size-fits-all approach to this, nor should there be.

This is just the sort of article I'd like to see someone put out there. It's all fine and dandy to tell a DM "you can do what you want," but having the time to sit down and imagine all the possibilililities is for people who have that kind of time on their hands (or who are writing for Dragon mag for example).

I don't see any problem with a level-based stacking limit with the occasional ability to go over in dire circumstances (just like with the "per encounter" and "per day" ability stuff they're doing now)..but per person.

Right now, i'm running RHOD for an LG group and it's been a complete joke. The cleric in the party (2 levels up) has everyone so artificially buffed all the time that every encounter is completely broken in favor of the PC's. Essentially there has been ZERO challenge. As a DM, I don't appreciate having to spend 2 extra hours prepping for a broken gaming system to make every encounter "epic" for 6th level characters (I smile, because I enjoy it..I just don't appreciate it).

I'm hoping that 4E is maybe a little more sensible.

Jh

Gamer Chiropractor - Hafner Chiropractic 305 S. Kipling st,Suite C-2, Lakewood, Co 80226 hafnerchiropractic.com

Let's be honest, the level 2 buffing characteristic spells plus the level 1 to 3 spells that add to offense or defense plus a couple of extra sources of magical items is way way over the top.

As the previous poster, that at level 6 there group is glowing from the buffs.

Simple limitation of money is not a great solution because many items can be 'manufactured' for a small price creating a stackable benefit. Sell the magical items you find and you can manufacture twice the value in magical items that you do want.

Only by getting a reasonable compromise on the player/DM pact of the rules can you avoid the truly rediculous in 3e.
Well. Its not endless bonus stacking. They do limit a bit, as you can only stack differening bonus. They probably should reduce the number of categories bonus can fill (Enchanment, luck, dodge, moral, insight, divine, armor, shield, natural armor, unnamed, etc..) If for no reason its at least a somewhat complicated system and not everyone is always sure what there bonus is (particularlly if they aren't casting the spell).

But the otherway, it becomes a joke as well, because if AC is not scaling up, and attack bonus are, then every attack becomes a hit. And then armor itself becomes useless, because the difference between AC 2 and AC 30 doesn't matter if the monster is swinging at +28.


I don't see any problem with a level-based stacking limit with the occasional ability to go over in dire circumstances (just like with the "per encounter" and "per day" ability stuff they're doing now)..but per person.

Right now, i'm running RHOD for an LG group and it's been a complete joke. The cleric in the party (2 levels up) has everyone so artificially buffed all the time that every encounter is completely broken in favor of the PC's. Essentially there has been ZERO challenge.
Jh

I admit I am curious how your cleric playing 2 levels up (I assume this means playing 2 levels below the designed level) is keeping your entire party buffed for every encounter. If your spell casters are 2 levels above the designed level, well I can definately see you devasting most encounters.
Right now, i'm running RHOD for an LG group and it's been a complete joke. The cleric in the party (2 levels up) has everyone so artificially buffed all the time that every encounter is completely broken in favor of the PC's. Essentially there has been ZERO challenge. As a DM, I don't appreciate having to spend 2 extra hours prepping for a broken gaming system to make every encounter "epic" for 6th level characters (I smile, because I enjoy it..I just don't appreciate it).

RHOD is a grinder module through and through. How the heck did your cleric manage that and not run dry by the 2-3 fight?
Best thing to do is quite simply to not produce bonus magic items and have all buff spells grant only enhancement bonuses. No more luck bonuses, insight, whatever. Everything is simply an enhancement bonus.

This effectively prevents all stacking issues.
Best thing to do is quite simply to not produce bonus magic items and have all buff spells grant only enhancement bonuses. No more luck bonuses, insight, whatever. Everything is simply an enhancement bonus.

This effectively prevents all stacking issues.

My nick is Valdrax, and I approve of this message.
Best thing to do is quite simply to not produce bonus magic items and have all buff spells grant only enhancement bonuses. No more luck bonuses, insight, whatever. Everything is simply an enhancement bonus.

This effectively prevents all stacking issues.

My name is Lokathor, and I approve of this message.
Best thing to do is quite simply to not produce bonus magic items...

What's wrong with magic items giving enhancement bonuses? I understand wanting to get away from the Christmas tree model, but it would be weird to not have magic swords and armor.
What's wrong with magic items giving enhancement bonuses? I understand wanting to get away from the Christmas tree model, but it would be weird to not have magic swords and armor.

I didn't say no magic swords, I said no magic items that grant bonuses. There's a difference.

Magic armro can grant DR or resistances, magic weapons grant abilities, like keen, flaming, etc.

Get rid of the boring old +1 sword. Make something special about it.
What's wrong with magic items giving enhancement bonuses? I understand wanting to get away from the Christmas tree model, but it would be weird to not have magic swords and armor.

Dropping +X items does not mean dropping magic swords and armour.

There is no reason that a Flaming Sword or a Ghost Sword needs to be a +X anything first. It should be able to be fine as just the magical descriptor that it has. This actually improves the quality of magical items as DMs will not just give out +X item treasure but will choose a real ability to assign to the item.

The same goes for armour. Straight +X don't really do anything but encourage people to get other +X items to overcome. Armour that does stuff like shields that have wings or release a lion head to bit people exist in the DMG but very few players had a reason to see or use them because they constantly were working on the +X to keep up with the other +X people.

Dropping the +X allows for more creativity and encourages its usage in magical items.
Well, K had the idea in his Tome of War thread to just give out some of the bonuses free when you get to level X.
if AC is not scaling up, and attack bonus are, then every attack becomes a hit. And then armor itself becomes useless, because the difference between AC 2 and AC 30 doesn't matter if the monster is swinging at +28.

Monsters with +28 is the RESULT of this, not the cause. DM's aren't forced to throw half-tarrasque-orcs at the party at level 6 when there is some reasonable cap on the endless bonus.

I like the standard "enhancement" bonus. We'll see if I need to house rule that for 4E or if the mathmaticians have figured it out ;)

Jay

Gamer Chiropractor - Hafner Chiropractic 305 S. Kipling st,Suite C-2, Lakewood, Co 80226 hafnerchiropractic.com

But the otherway, it becomes a joke as well, because if AC is not scaling up, and attack bonus are, then every attack becomes a hit. And then armor itself becomes useless, because the difference between AC 2 and AC 30 doesn't matter if the monster is swinging at +28.

Not really. Every point of extra AC you have is one point of damage (or 2) the foe in question is not power attacking you for.

Or has everyone forgotten about this feat?:P
Not really. Every point of extra AC you have is one point of damage (or 2) the foe in question is not power attacking you for.

Or has everyone forgotten about this feat?:P

I've actually only seen Power Attack put to use once in all of my 3rd edition playing. Most characters in the games I've been in either can't benefit from it, or they don't take the feat because they've got other things they need to take.
I've actually only seen Power Attack put to use once in all of my 3rd edition playing. Most characters in the games I've been in either can't benefit from it, or they don't take the feat because they've got other things they need to take.

Most of us DM's don't have time to bother with this either. Thank god 4E is coming and will simplfy the DM's job.

jh

Gamer Chiropractor - Hafner Chiropractic 305 S. Kipling st,Suite C-2, Lakewood, Co 80226 hafnerchiropractic.com

Well, K had the idea in his Tome of War thread to just give out some of the bonuses free when you get to level X.

That's because Tome of War was written for 3.5, not 4E. in 3.5 monster bonuses assume that you're going to have plus items, thus K had to work within that framework (since he didn't want to rewrite the entire MM). Here we can just dump the idea of numeric bonuses entirely and build monsters with that assumption.
That's because Tome of War was written for 3.5, not 4E. in 3.5 monster bonuses assume that you're going to have plus items, thus K had to work within that framework (since he didn't want to rewrite the entire MM). Here we can just dump the idea of numeric bonuses entirely and build monsters with that assumption.

Exactly - since one of the key points in 4e is to make PCs less reliant on equipment, the monsters should be built with this taken into account. 3eintroduced the concept of monster levels that had the bad guys gaining BAB as they went up in HD, on top of getting STR bonuses for size/race and whatever. 4e eliminating this problem (I'm guessing) will go a long way towards removing the need for +5 armor of everything, +5 animated shields, and +5 bracers of untouchableness that make higher level combat less interesting for fighter-types.
I'd like to see some additional typing of bonuses - mainly a "feat" type bonus so that you can't for example take a dozen feats that each add +2 to some skill to get a +30 or somesuch crazy bonus to skills and whatnot.

Also, what about a cap (or at least a "recommendation") based on level - similar to "class skills" of 3+level. Some easy formula that says "if your PCs/NPCs are significantly above or below this, you may have a problem".
I'd like to see some additional typing of bonuses - mainly a "feat" type bonus so that you can't for example take a dozen feats that each add +2 to some skill to get a +30 or somesuch crazy bonus to skills and whatnot.

If you've spent that many feats, why not?


As for other automatic bonus escalation, if everyone has it as a function of hitdice or ECL it's mostly the same as no one having it, except that it makes numbers grow bigger faster, so you don't have level 1 guys just swarming a level 4 or 5 character because all he has is more HP.
If you've spent that many feats, why not?

That's my point. Don't let people take a godawful amount of feats just to pump one score into the stratosphere.

Otherwise, you just might as well get rid of all the "typing" of bonuses and just let everything stack, 'cuz characters went through the trouble to accumilate all that magic garbage, right? I mean, what's wrong with a fighter decked out with gauntlets of ogre power, a belt of giant strength +4, titan shoes (assuming they granted a +6 Strength) and Ring of Spell Storing with Bull's Strength in it to give him a total +16 Strength? He paid for it all, right?
But wealth is not directly linked to character level. Feat count is.
But wealth is not directly linked to character level. Feat count is.

If you adhere to the wealth guidelines, then wealth would be linked to lv.
Just to reverse things, what if magic items only grant enhancement bonuses? The whole "every character has a magic amulet that makes his skin tough" thing just bothers me. If there was just 1 magic item with + to each stat, and then spells, it would be fine.
Just to reverse things, what if magic items only grant enhancement bonuses? The whole "every character has a magic amulet that makes his skin tough" thing just bothers me. If there was just 1 magic item with + to each stat, and then spells, it would be fine.

Well, having magic items grant only a single kind of bonus is a good thing, but even better would be getting rid of bonus items entirely. People want exciting items, and bonus items aren't particularly exciting.

The only reason you need bonus items in 3.X is because monsters are built with the idea that the PCs will have them, so it's just a number tweaking thing.

Also without many bonuses, it's a lot easier to build a monster's numbers because it's always going to stay within a fixed range of the monster's level.
The only reason you need bonus items in 3.X is because monsters are built with the idea that the PCs will have them, so it's just a number tweaking thing.

Yes, which I personally can't stand. If items magic exist in a game system, they should be developed completely separately from the monsters. They should be extras, not necessities.
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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.

Yes, which I personally can't stand. If items magic exist in a game system, they should be developed completely separately from the monsters. They should be extras, not necessities.

QFT I think I love you
Yes, which I personally can't stand. If items magic exist in a game system, they should be developed completely separately from the monsters. They should be extras, not necessities.

Agreed. 1E & 2E had a little bit of this (monsters that could only be hit by magic items), but the christmas tree proliferation of items in 3E is one thing that just bums me out. If it weren't for the dependance on magic items in the current edition, I'm not sure I would bother to switch to 4E.
Caps on bonuses, like caps on AC, are dumb. Reference 1st and 2nd e for examples.

You mean 2nd edition AD&D where the highest AC any player could get was -10, pre-artifact? Why? Because it was written into the rules that the PC cap was -10. Also, the items that provided bonuses were much fewer. And the bonuses were less: Rings of protection capped at +3, if I recall.

That'd be AC 30 for the non-2nd ed literate.

As a point of reference, the best AC NPCs could get was -12. I believe only dragons could achieve that.

I had a post on the 4e Treasure and Rewards in regards to this topic. An excerpt that pertains:

Maybe what we need is instead of items that are bonuses, maybe they should be replacements.

Then, for + bonuses to weapons, you have "weapon of the dastardly assassin" which grants a base attack equal to a rogue when wielded, limited to that weapon. "Weapon of the deadly warrior" would grant a fighter base attack when wielding that weapon. Both would be equal to those classes the same level of the character.

The replacement for +saves would be "cloak of nimble defense" which would grant a rogue's ref save (or defense). A combo item might give the character favored saves/defenses across the board.

Armor bonuses would somewhat change. The first rule I'd make is that the armor/natural armor bonus don't stack, you use whichever is better. "Amulet of boar's hide" would give you a +2 natural armor. But you might as well wear a chain shirt (AC +4), unless you're a unarmored combatant. Put it on your bear pet and it's useless.

Rings of protection could work one of two ways. One, they could work like bracers of armor do currently. Second, they could increase your effective category of armor. Ring of light protection might shift your category up one step, so if you aren't wearing armor, you get the AC of studded leather. If you are wearing studded leather and have the same ring, you shift to the AC to chain mail. If you have chain you get plate. If you have plate, you get nothing. Ring of moderate protection might shift by two categories.

Actual bonuses to armor would just disappear.

Stat ability boosters could go back to the 2nd edition versions. Gloves of Ogre Strength would give you the strength stat an ogre has.

Skill boosters would give you set ranks of a given skill. Cloak of Elvenkind would give you half ranks of hide, for instance. A ring of chameleon power might grant full ranks of hide. Both as a character of equal level.



A rogue would still be better at hide than a fighter of the same level with a ring of chameleon power, because the rogue might have a class ability to reroll a hide check and take the better roll.

Suddenly the caps get much lower. I also second the idea that any bonuses that are actual bonuses be typed "enhancement".

As always, your mileage may vary.
Monsters with +28 is the RESULT of this, not the cause. DM's aren't forced to throw half-tarrasque-orcs at the party at level 6 when there is some reasonable cap on the endless bonus.

I like the standard "enhancement" bonus. We'll see if I need to house rule that for 4E or if the mathmaticians have figured it out ;)

Jay

Considering the designers' comments so far about the math, I predict we'll see AC tied to level -- and possibly the effects of armor downgraded somewhat.
I've actually only seen Power Attack put to use once in all of my 3rd edition playing. Most characters in the games I've been in either can't benefit from it, or they don't take the feat because they've got other things they need to take.

I think this is pretty common until you realize how insanely powerful it is. It took us a while as well, but then once your players realize they can easily stack buffs to get an attack bonus far higher than your average monster, you see how amazing power attack is. Plus, it means ranged characters can't just kite your melee to reduce their attacks, because their charge is so devastating.
Just for a random example, take an average CR 10 creature like a Guardian Naga (AC 18). A 10th level paladin with a 2h can easily get a +26 atk bonus on a charge using smite even without severe min-maxing or buff stacking, so if he uses PA 10 he'll hit on anything but a 1 or 2 and do 2d6+41x2 damage on a charge using Rhino's Rush and Smite Evil. That will literally one-shot the creature.

I realize just now that guardian naga are LG :P but whatever, the point remains, PA is the best offensive ability a melee fighter can get against most monsters.

Considering the designers' comments so far about the math, I predict we'll see AC tied to level -- and possibly the effects of armor downgraded somewhat.

My group instituted what I think is a pretty simple and elegant solution to the AC buffing problem. Just give all players a +1 Defense bonus to AC at every even level. This is basically a dodge bonus that applies as long as the character is aware. Then, remove all deflection bonuses and enhancement bonuses to natural armor from items and spells and viola. By level 20 you still have a character with a +10 AC, but you've used 2 less items and stacked 2 less buff types, all while making the character more reliant on level than gear.
Well, having magic items grant only a single kind of bonus is a good thing, but even better would be getting rid of bonus items entirely. People want exciting items, and bonus items aren't particularly exciting.

The only reason you need bonus items in 3.X is because monsters are built with the idea that the PCs will have them, so it's just a number tweaking thing.

Also without many bonuses, it's a lot easier to build a monster's numbers because it's always going to stay within a fixed range of the monster's level.

Do they? Isn't "it's you, not your gear" the mantra of 4th edition? Having character's coolness be dependent on items means having the player's abilities in the hands of the DM.
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