Tier System for Classes

713 posts / 0 new
Last post
The following is a rough ranking of classes by power level. Psionic classes are mostly absent simply because I don't have enough experience with them. Other absent classes are generally because I don't know them well enough to comment. Note that "useless" here means "the class isn't particularly useful for dealing with situation X" not "it's totally impossible with enough splat books to make a build that involves that class deal with situation X." "Capable of doing one thing" means that any given build does one thing, not that the class itself is incapable of being built in different ways. Also, "encounters" here refers to appropriate encounters... obviously, anyone can solve an encounter with purely mechanical abilities if they're level 20 and it's CR 1.

Also note that with enough optimization, it's generally possible to go up a tier, and if played poorly you can easily drop a few tiers, but this is a general averaging.

Generally, the purpose of this system is to allow DMs to gauge power levels of builds in their party. As long as everyone's within one power Tier of each other, it should be fine. Differences of two or more tiers can be problematic in some groups. Avoid differences of 3 or more tiers unless the lower tier characters are more heavily optimized. It's also useful for figuring out what's really cheesey... sure, a Half Minotaur Water Orc Fighter sounds like a cheesy race, but if he's in a party with a Druid, a Cleric, and a Wizard, maybe you should allow it.

It's also handy for making new classes, as you can try to fit your class in to whatever tier you like best. Personally, I think Tier 3 is about the perfect balance point, as it allows teamwork and lets everybody shine appropriately, and everyone always feels useful. Other people prefer Tier 4. Perhaps still more prefer different points.

Note that some classes are in itallics. These are classes where I've heard about them, and other people have mentioned where they think they go, but I don't have enough direct experience to be sure of where they belong, so they're guesses.

The Tier System

Tier 1: Capable of doing absolutely everything, often better than classes that specialize in that thing. Often capable of solving encounters with a single mechanical ability and little thought from the player. Has world changing powers at high levels. These guys, if played well, can break a campaign and can be very hard to challenge without extreme DM fiat, especially if Tier 3s and below are in the party.

Examples: Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Archivist, Artificer.

Tier 2: Has as much raw power as the Tier 1 classes, but can't pull off nearly as many tricks, and while the class itself is capable of anything, no one build can actually do nearly as much as the Tier 1 classes. Still potencially campaign smashers by using the right abilities, but at the same time are more predictable and can't always have the right tool for the job. If the Tier 1 classes are countries with 10,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenal, these guys are countries with 10 nukes. Still dangerous and world shattering, but not in quite so many ways.

Examples: Sorcerer, Favoured Soul, Psion, Binder (with access to Summon Monster vestige)

Tier 3: 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. Challenging such a character takes some thought from the DM, but isn't too difficult. Will outshine any Tier 5s in the party much of the time.

Examples: Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, Crusader, Bard, Swordsage, Binder (without access to the summon monster vestige), Wildshape Varient Ranger, Duskblade, Factorum, Warblade

Tier 4: Capable of doing one thing quite well, but often useless when encounters require other areas of expertise, or capable of doing many things to a reasonable degree of competance without truly shining. Rarely has any abilities that can outright handle an encounter. DMs may sometimes need to work to make sure Tier 4s can contribue to an encounter, as their abilities may sometimes leave them useless. Won't outshine anyone except Tier 6s except in specific circumstances that play to their strengths. Cannot compete effectively with Tier 1s that are played well.

Examples: Rogue, Barbarian, Warlock, Warmage, Scout, Ranger, Hexblade, Adept, Spellthief, Marshal, Fighter (Dungeoncrasher Varient), Psionic Warrior

Tier 5: 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. 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.

Examples: Fighter, Monk, CA Ninja, Healer, Swashbuckler, Rokugan Ninja, Soulknife, Expert

Tier 6: Not even capable of shining in their own area of expertise. DMs will need to work hard to make encounters that this sort of character can contribute in with their mechanical abilities. Will often feel worthless unless the character is seriously powergamed beyond belief, and even then won't be terribly impressive. Needs to fight enemies of lower than normal CR. Class is often completely unsynergized or with almost no abilities of merit. Avoid allowing PCs to play these characters.

Examples: CW Samurai, Aristocrat, Warrior, Commoner

And then there's the Truenamer, which is just broken (as in, the class was improperly made and doesn't function appropriately).

Now, obviously these rankings only apply when mechanical abilities are being used... in a more social oriented game where talking is the main way of solving things (without using diplomacy checks), any character can shine. However, when the mechanical abilities of the classes in question are being used, it's a bad idea to have parties with more than two tiers of difference.

It is interesting to note the disparity between the core classes... one of the reasons core has so many problems. If two players want to play a nature oriented shapeshifter and a general sword weilder, you're stuck with two very different tiered guys in the party (Fighter and Druid). Outside of core, it's possible to do it while staying on close Tiers... Wild Shape Varient Ranger and Warblade, for example.

Extra Sections!

FAQ:
Show
Q: So, which is the best Tier?

A: In the end, the best Tier is the Tier that matches the rest of your party and appeals to you. If your party is Fighter, Rogue, Healer, Barbarian, then Tier 4 or 5 is going to be the best. If your party is Sorcerer, Beguiler, Crusader, Swordsage, then Tier 2-3 will be best. Really, if you're having fun and no one in the party feels either useless or overpowered, then you're doing it right. Personally, I prefer Tier 3, but I still match to whatever party I'm in if I join after other characters are created.

Q: Why is my favorite class too low? It should TOTALLY be much higher!

A: Remember, you're probably more experienced with your favorite class than with other classes. Plus, your personality probably fits well with the way that class works, and you probably are better inspired to work with that class. As such, whatever your favorite class is is going to seem stronger for you than everyone else. This is because you're simply going to play your favorite class in a more skillfull way... plus you'll be blinded to the shortcomings of that class, since you probably don't care about those anyway (they match with things that you as a player probably don't want to do anyway). As such, if I did this right most people should think their favorite class is a little too low, whether that class is Fighter or Monk or Rogue or whatever else.

Q: I totally saw a [Class X] perform far better than a [Class Y] even though you list it as lower. What gives?

A: This system assumes that everything other than mechanics is totally equal. It's a ranking of the mechanical classes themselves, not of the players who use that class. As long as the players are of equal skill and optimize their characters roughly the same amount, it's fine. If one player optimizes a whole lot more than the other, that will shift their position on the chart.

Q: So what a minute, how can I use it then? My players all play differently.

A: First, determine what you'd say is the average optimization and skill level in the group, then make adjustments for people who are noticably different from that. I can't give examples of skill level, but here's an example for optimization. Imagine for a moment that your party has a Cleric with DMM: Persistant Spell, a Fighter with Shock Trooper and Leap Attack, a Beguiler with a Mindbender dip and Mindsight, and a traditional Sword and Board Fighter. Now, the first three are pretty optimized, but the fourth is pretty weak. So in that case, what you've actually got is a Tier 1, a Tier 3, a Tier 5, and a Tier 6, with that second Fighter being Tier 6 because he's far less optimized than the rest of the group. However, if your group is instead a healbot Cleric, a Beguiler who hasn't figured out how to use illusions effectively, a Sword and Board Fighter, and a Shock Trooper/Leap Attack Fighter, then the charge based Fighter is the odd one out. Bump him up a Tier... maybe even 2. So now you've got a Tier 1, a Tier 3, a Tier 5, and maybe a Tier 4. Remember, this whole thing is about intra party balance... there's no objective balancing, because each campaign is different.

Q: So what exactly is this system measuring? Raw Power? Then why is the Barbarian lower than the Duskblade, when the Barbarian clearly does more damage?

A: For this, we need another block, because it's going to be a long answer.
Show
The Tier System is not specifically ranking Power or Versitility (though those are what ends up being the big factors). It's ranking the ability of a class to achieve what you want in any given situation. Highly versitile classes will be more likely to efficiently apply what power they have to the situation, while very powerful classes will be able to REALLY help in specific situations. Classes that are both versitile and powerful will very easily get what they want by being very likely to have a very powerful solution to the current problem. This is what matters most for balance.

For example, here's how the various Tiers might deal with a specific set of situations.

Situation 1: A Black Dragon has been plaguing an area, and he lives in a trap filled cave. Deal with him.

Situation 2: You have been tasked by a nearby country with making contact with the leader of the underground slave resistance of an evil tyranical city state, and get him to trust you.

Situation 3: A huge army of Orcs is approaching the city, and should be here in a week or so. Help the city prepare for war.

Okay, so, here we go.

Tier 6: A Commoner. Situation 1: If he's REALLY optimized, he could be a threat to the dragon, but a single attack from the dragon could take him out too. He can't really offer help getting to said dragon. He could fill up the entire cave with chickens, but that's probably not a good idea. Really, he's dead weight unless his build was perfectly optimized for this situation (see my Commoner charger build for an example). Situation 2: Well, without any stealth abilities or diplomacy, he's not too handy here, again unless he's been exactly optimized for this precise thing (such as through Martial Study to get Diplomacy). Really, again his class isn't going to help much here. Situation 3: Again, no help from his class, though the chicken thing might be amusing if you're creative.

Tier 5: A Fighter. Situation 1: If he's optimized for this sort of thing (a tripper might have trouble, though a charger would be handy if he could get off a clear shot, and an archer would likely work) he can be a threat during the main fight, but he's probably just about useless for sneaking down through the cave and avoiding any traps the dragon has set out without alerting said dragon. Most likely the party Rogue would want to hide him in a bag of holding or something. Once in the fight if he's optimized he'll be solid, but if not (if he's a traditional SAB build or a dual weilding monkey grip type) he's going to be a liability in the combat (though not as bad as the Commoner). Situation 2: As the commoner before, his class really won't help here. His class just doesn't provide any useful tools for the job. It's possible (but very unlikely) that he's optimized in a way that helps in this situation, just as with the Commoner. Situation 3: Again, his class doesn't help much, but at least he could be pretty useful during the main battle as a front line trooper of some sort. Hack up the enemy and rack up a body count.

Tier 4: The Rogue. Situation 1: Well he can certainly help get the party to the dragon, even if he's not totally optimized for it. His stealth and detection abilities will come in handy here, and if he puts the less stealthy people in portable holes and the like he's good to go. During the combat he's likely not that helpful (it's hard to sneak attack a dragon) but if he had a lot of prep time he might have been able to snag a scroll or wand of Shivering Touch, in which case he could be extremely helpful... he just has to be really prepared and on the ball, and the resources have to be available in advance. He's quite squishy though, and that dragon is a serious threat. Situation 2: With his stealth and diplomacy, he's all over this. Maybe not 100% perfect, but still pretty darn solid. An individual build might not have all the necessary skills, but most should be able to make do. Situation 3: Perhaps he can use Gather Information and such to gain strategic advantages before the battle... that would be handy. There's a few he's pretty likely to be able to pull off. He might even be able to use Diplomacy to buff the army a bit and at least get them into a good morale situation pre battle. Or, if he's a different set up, he could perhaps go out and assassinate a few of the orc commanders before the fight, which could be handy. And then during the fight he could do the same. It's not incredible, but it's something.

Tier 3: The Beguiler. Situation 1: Again, getting through the cave is easy, perhaps easier with spell support. And again, if he's really prepared in advance, Shivering Touch via UMD is a possibility. But he's also got spells that could be quite useful here depending on the situation, and if he's optimized heavily, this is going to be pretty easy... Shadowcraft Mage, perhaps? Or Earth Dreamer? Either way, he's got a lot of available options, though like the Rogue he's somewhat squishy (and that Dragon won't fall for many illusions with his Blindsense) so he still needs that party support. Situation 2: Again, with his skills he's all over this one, plus the added ability to cast spells like charm makes this one much easier, allowing him to make contacts in the city quickly while he figures out where this guy is. Situation 3: Like the Rogue, he can get strategic advantages and be all over the Diplomacy. He's not quite as good at assassinating people if he takes that route (though sneaking up invisible and then using a coup de gras with a scythe is pretty darn effective), but using illusions during the fight will create some serious chaos in his favor. A single illusion of a wall of fire can really disrupt enemy formations, for example.

Tier 2: The Sorcerer. Situation 1: It really depends on the Sorcerer's spell load out. If he's got Greater Floating Disk, Spectral Hand, and Shivering Touch, this one's going to be easy as pie, since he can just float down (and carry his party in the process) to avoid many traps, then nail the dragon in one shot from a distance. If he doesn't he'd need scrolls with the same issues that the UMD Rogue and Beguiler would need. If he's got Explosive Runes he could create a bomb that would take out the Dragon in one shot. If he's got Polymorph he could turn the party melee into a Hydra for extra damage. If he's got Alter Self he could turn himself into a Skulk to get down there sneakily. Certainly, it's possible that the Sorcerer could own this scenario... if he has the right spells known. That's always the hard part for a Sorcerer. Situation 2: Again, depends on the spell. Does he have divinations that will help him know who's part of the resistance and who's actually an evil spy for the Tyranical Govenerment? Does he have charm? Alter Self would help a ton here too for disguise purposes if he has it. Once again, the options exist that could totally make this easy, but he might not have those options. Runestaffs would help a bit, but not that much. Scrolls would help too, but that requires access to them and good long term preparation. Situation 3: Again, does he have Wall of Iron or Wall of Stone to make fortifications? Does he have Wall of Fire to disrupt the battlefield? How about Mind **** and Love's Pain to kill off the enemy commanders without any ability to stop him? Does he have Blinding Glory on his spell list, or Shapechange, or Gate? Well, maybe. He's got the power, but if his spells known don't apply here he can't do much. So, maybe he dominates this one, maybe not.

Tier 1: The Wizard. Situation 1: Memorize Greater Floating Disk, Shivering Touch, and Spectral Hand. Maybe Alter Self too for stealth reasons. Kill dragon. Memorize Animate Dead too, because Dragons make great minions (seriously, there's special rules for using that spell on dragons). Sweet, you have a new horsie! Or, you know, maybe you Mind ****/Love's Pain and kill the dragon before he even knows you exist, then float down and check it out. Or maybe you create a horde of the dead and send them in, triggering the traps with their bodies. Or do the haunt shift trick and waltz in with a hardness of around 80 and giggle. Perhaps you cast Genesis to create a flowing time plane and then sit and think about what to do for a year while only a day passes on the outside... and cast Explosive Runes every day during that year. I'm sure you can come up with something. It's really your call. Situation 2: Check your spell list. Alter Self and Disguise Self can make you look like whoever you need to look like. Locate Creature has obvious utility. Heck, Contact Other Plane could be a total cheating method of finding the guy you're trying to find. Clairvoyance is also handy. It's all there. Situation 3: Oh no, enemy army! Well, if you've optimized for it, there's always the locate city bomb (just be careful not to blow up the friendly guys too). But if not, Love's Pain could assassinate the leaders. Wall of Iron/Stone could create fortifications, or be combined with Fabricate to armour up some of the troops. Or you could just cast Blinding Glory and now the entire enemy army is blind with no save for caster level hours. Maybe you could Planar Bind an appropriate outsider to help train the troops before the battle. Push comes to shove, Gate in a Solar, who can cast Miracle (which actually does have a "I win the battle" option)... or just Shapechange into one, if you prefer.

So yeah, as you move up the Tiers you go from weak, unadaptable, and predictable (that Commoner's got very few useful options) to strong, adaptable, and unpredictable (who knows what that Wizard is going to do?). A Wizard can always apply a great deal of strength very efficiently, whether it's Shivering Touch on the Dragon or Blinding Glory on an enemy army. The Sorcerer has the power, but he may not have power that he can actually apply to the situation. The Beguiler has even less raw power and may have to use UMD to pull it off. The Rogue is even further along that line. And the Fighter has power in very specific areas which are less likely to be useful in a given situation.

So yeah, that's really what the Tiers are about. How much does this class enable you to achieve what you want in a given situation? The more versitile your power, the more likely that the answer to that question is "a lot." If you've got tons of power and limited versitility (that's you, Sorcerers and charging Barbarians) then sometimes the answer is a lot, but sometimes it's not much. If you've got tons of versitility but limited power (hi, Rogue!) then it's often "a decent amount." If you've got little of both (Commoner!) then yeah, it's often "it doesn't."

And of course reversing that and applying it to DMs, you get "how many effective options does this class give for solving whatever encounters I throw at them?" For Commoners, the answer may be none. For Fighters, it's sometimes none, sometimes 1, maybe 2, but you generally know in advance what it will be (if he's got Improved Trip and a Spiked Chain and all that, he's probably going to be tripping stuff, just a hint). For Wizards, it's tons, and they're all really potent, and you have no idea how he's going to do it. Does he blind the enemy army or assassinate all its leaders or turn into a Solar and just arbitrarily win the battle? There's no way to know until he memorizes his spells for the day (and even then you might not see it coming).


Q: But what about dips? I mean, I rarely see anyone playing single class characters. What would a Barbarian 1/Fighter 6 be, for example?

A: It's pretty simple. This system is paying attention to the fact that people are more likely to take the early levels of a class than the later levels, either because they simply don't get to a level where they'd see the late levels, or because of dipping. Generally speaking, a mix of classes should end up being as high up as the most powerful class in the mix if it's optimized, or somewhere in the middle of the classes used if not very optimized, and below them both if it's really strangely done. A Barbarian 1/Fighter 6 that's optimized would thus be Tier 4 generally, because it took the best qualities of a Barbarian (probably pounce, rage, and so on) and then made it stronger. Generally, you don't multiclass out unless you get something better by doing so, so you're usually going to end up at least as strong as the strongest class. This isn't always true, but it generally is. Meanwhile, if you do something silly like Wizard 4/Sorcerer 4, you might end up much lower. But assuming you're not doing anything rediculous, a combination of Tier 4 and Tier 5 classes will usually be Tier 4, though it might be Tier 5. Similar examples would be that a Scout/Ranger is probably going to be Tier 4 (though because there's a multiclassing feat for that, it could end up Tier 3), a Monk 1/Druid X will be Tier 1, a Fighter 2/Warblade X will be Tier 3, and so on.

Q: My players want to play classes of wildly different Tiers. Can you suggest some house rules to deal with this?

A: Again, this gets its own block. These will be quick and dirty solutions... if you want, you can make something more intricate. The Tier system is designed to be the foundation for house rules... it tells you which direction you should take classes, power wise. For example, it's telling you that you shouldn't buff Sorcerers (unless the rest of the game is Tier 1) or nerf Monks (unless everyone else is Tier 6) in whatever changes you do. But, if you really want some house rules, here's a few:

Show
Option #1: Point Buy modifications. This is a quick and dirty fix that helps a bit. It's not perfect, but it's certainly something. Tier 1s get 24 point buy. Tier 2s get 28 point buy. Tier 3s get 32 point buy. Tier 4s get 36 point buy. Tier 5s get 40 point buy. Tier 6s get 44 point buy. Result? At low levels, their Tiers are nearly reversed, with CW Samurai having awesome stats while Wizards really are weak bookish types. By the high levels, the Tiers are back in order, but the difference is less pronounced through the mid levels. Obviously, you can adjust what the differences are, but this works pretty well, and most importantly it's extremely easy. The big downside is that you really can't allow much multiclassing or else it all goes out of whack. Other similar methods include rolling but letting lower Tiers get extra rerolls or bonuses after the roll, and giving free LA points to low tier classes (so, everyone Tier 3 and below gets 1 free LA, and everyone Tier 5 and below gets 2 free LA).

Option #2: Partial Gestalt. Tier 1s and 2s are normal. Tier 3s and 4s may gestalt their levels with an NPC class of their choice (Adept, Expert, Commoner, or Warrior). Tier 5s and 6s may gestalt their levels with any other Tier 5 or 6 class of their choice, or Adepts. Result? Again, a healthy power boost for the low Tiers. Suddenly the Rogues can have full BAB and lots of hitpoints, and the Monks can have Fighter powers too. Very handy. Plus, multiclassing works... it's just that if you start as a Fighter//Monk and want to take a level of, say, Ranger, that level must have an NPC class on the other side. If for some reason you wanted Sorcerer, you wouldn't be gestalt at all in that level. Lord knows Fighters get a lot better when they can be Fighter//Monks or Fighter//CA Ninjas or whatever.

Option #3: Mass bannings. Clunky method, but simply saying "no, you can't be Tier X and above" does work. You pick the level that you want to deal with (let's say Tier 3, because that's my favorite) and then ban the ones higher than that (no Tier 2 or Tier 1). Some would ban the levels below that too (say, no Tier 5s or 6s) but I actually find that unnessesary... sometimes those weaker classes might work for your build as a dip. Honestly, I don't favor this method, because sometimes players can't find a class that fits their concept just right this way, but it is an option.


So you're saying that a Wizard and a Cleric shouldn't travel with someone whose class abilities include Trapfinding? And don't bring up Artificer.

How did you come up with this list? It seems biased in favor of one style of play.
So you're saying that a Wizard and a Cleric shouldn't travel with someone whose class abilities include Trapfinding? And don't bring up Artificer.

Why can't I bring up Artificers? How about Clerics? They can have it too (Kobold Domain). I mean seriously, Cloistered Cleric with Kobold and Trickery domains. Done.

But I'm saying if you have a Wizard in a party with a Beguiler, there's going to be some power issues, since the Wizard is potencially far stronger than the Beguiler. DMs should be aware of that going in, and possibly allow the Beguiler a little more leeway in what they're allowed than the Wizard to make up for it. If it's Wizard and Rogue, the Rogue should be allowed a lot of leeway, because he's in serious danger of being outshined, and perhaps the Wizard ought to consider playing a Sorcerer instead, or at least be aware of the fact that he should be careful not to outshine said Rogue. Certainly, using Animate Dread Warrior on the first Rogue you defeat and using it as the party trapfinder would be rude if there's already a Rogue in the party.

How did you come up with this list? It seems biased in favor of one style of play.

It's actually supposed to work for most styles of play, assuming relatively even amounts of optimization in the party (obviously, if the Fighter player is optimized to all heck and the Wizard is a newbie who is totally confused, things will be a bit different). Most of this comes from personal experience and hearing the experiences of others, in addition to building "power builds" with the various classes. If it helps, here's a list of classes organized by power taken from polls on the CO boards. I don't agree entirely with all of it, but it's helpful information.

Seriously, what style of play do you think it's biased about? It works for kick in the door stuff, for world domination campaigns, for high level battles (though not Epic), and a variety of other kinds.

JaronK
Sorry for my agressive approach JaronK.

I've played classes from tiers 1-5 and always have able to contribute to the party and have fun. I can think of one party consisting of two tier 1s and three tier 4s and not noticing disparity in the power of what someone is able to do, only differences in what they can do and how they do it.

With that in mind, the bias I see is towards classes with full 9 level spellcasting. The games I play are more diverse than that with no ill effect. I've seen rogues useless when facing undead, I've seen barbarians get swarmed and beat down, I've seen wizards taken out with a simple grapple.

Basically I just don't agree with you. But I'm only one man.
Well, again, this system assumes everyone knows their options and plays intelligently, utilizing their class's abilities. For example, I'd assume a Wizard at higher levels would have a Dimensional Door readied (if he doesn't have permanent Freedom of Movement already) to get out of any grapple. Or he's a Conjuration specialist that can teleport away as an immediate action. Or he's on a Phantasmal Steed and thus out of range of and faster than most grapplers. And so on.

Obviously, it's impossible to gauge how players play, and different playstyles will have an effect on things (some people, like that Wizard who got grappled to death, just don't have an instinct for the class, or just aren't using the class to its potencial). That's part of why it's organized in Tiers and not in specific order... it's too hard to really say if a Cleric is stronger than a Druid, for example, as it depends so much on playstyle. But generally, Clerics will be stronger than Favored Souls, who will be stronger than Healers.

Also, it should be noted that a lot of DMs will instinctively try to balance the classes, so the differences aren't as extreme in play. Sometimes those DMs don't even realize they're doing it. You'll have people saying "Wizards aren't that powerful" and then get the response "but look, they can do all of this" and then saying "well, I'd never let that fly in my campaigns." Sure, that's because you nerfed them. Not that this is bad... nerfing for balance purposes is part of the DMs job. But this list is using RAW, before any individual DM gets in there and starts tweaking. It's there specifically so a DM knows what classes he should be tweaking down.

Likewise, a DM will usually make sure to play to the strengths of weaker classes. Throwing a Wizard into a stealth situation is fine... throwing a Fighter into one is kinda mean. As such, most DMs will naturally boost weaker classes in that manner. Again, this list is ignoring the DMs input, just giving a general thing, so that a DM can look at it and decide which classes need help by putting them in the right situations.

And this list is here to avoid DMs getting tricked by players, which I do see happen a lot... "Sorcerers are too weak and need a bunch of house rules to boost them up" is a common one. Check the list, and if he's actually at a higher power tier than the rest of the class, he needs nothing!

JaronK
I'm looking again at your first post and the sentance "Capable of doing absolutely everything" is what sets apart your intent from mine. That and the detail about causing world-shaking events. You're talking about potential. I guess I agree with you on that. I believe that in dynamic campaigns, no class can do everyhting. Too many possibilities.

Where's the paladin?
Where's the paladin?

And the Warblade for that matter. It should be up there with the Crusader (the differences between the two classes power is marginally in favor of the Crusader, as that one gets more reactions than the Warblade does).

Oh, and the Factotum should be up another teir if Font of Inspiration is availible. If not, leave it as is.
And the Warblade for that matter. It should be up there with the Crusader (the differences between the two classes power is marginally in favor of the Crusader, as that one gets more reactions than the Warblade does).

Oh, and the Factotum should be up another teir if Font of Inspiration is availible. If not, leave it as is.

Honestly, I just forgot the Warblade somehow. I thought it was in there... and yes, it belongs with the Crusader and such.

As for the Paladin, I haven't actually played one, and the only one I've seen in action was a Paladin of Tyranny 4/Hexblade 4. Potent, but still hard to gauge the rest of the class. As such, it's not in there. I'm thinking Tier 4 for the Paladin, possibly Tier 5, but I'm really not sure about that one. But I'll add in Warblade.

I forgot Soulknife too. I can put that guy in as well.

As for the Factotum, it's got a lot of potencial, but I don't think it's a Sorcerer level threat. You're at best two full spell levels behind a Sorcerer, which means no Genesis, no Gate, no Shapechange, no PAO. Then again, you do get access to things like Alter Self, Polymorph, and Shrink Item, and you can pick your spells freshly each day. I can see your point, but I don't think they're quite that high up... Bard level seems about right for them.

JaronK
Where is the Expert (NPC class)?
The Paladin's potency can depend heavily on how much he can use his mount.
Where is the Expert (NPC class)?

Tier 5. I'll put him in. Poor in areas outside his area of expertise, but the ability to get UMD, Diplomacy, Autohypnosis, Iajuitsu Focus, and other solid skills makes it a very good class in its area (namely skills).

JaronK
I'm looking again at your first post and the sentance "Capable of doing absolutely everything" is what sets apart your intent from mine. That and the detail about causing world-shaking events. You're talking about potential. I guess I agree with you on that. I believe that in dynamic campaigns, no class can do everyhting. Too many possibilities.

Well yeah, it's about capability. Obviously the DM can throw so much at a Wizard that he never has time to sit down and research or locate new spells (though that's actually hard with Rope Trick and Mordenkein's Mansion). But in the long run, the Wizard class is capable of producing insanely powerful effects that are often very unpredictable. If the Wizard has been using undead minions in the last 10 fights and you create a series of challenges for him involving attacking his undead, he may suddenly switch tactics entirely to flight and sniping tactics, leaving the DM scrambling.

In theory, this should apply just as much to every sort of campaign, assuming the players make full use of the class's abilities (and the DM hasn't nerfed or improved such abilities).

JaronK
In AD&D 1st edition, characters were epic at 9th level. You attracted followers and could solo adult dragons. That's it. People I knew then played for up to 3 years to hit 9th level.

For all the changes they made, the basic hit points / attack / level system is still the same thing.

If you play DnD 3.5 up to 9th level, it is decently balanced and fun. The barbarian or fighter is better until level 5 or 6, then the caster is better until level 9. It is fair. The wizard pays his dues and gets the reward for it.

DnD post 10th level makes nooooo damn sense.
I've seen stuff work out like this time and time again. In the last game I ran, we had four characters at the beginning:
  • Cleric
  • Wizard
  • Druid
  • Monk

Guess which one sucked? The funny part of it was the player was totally oblivious to it. He'd read the PHB and say how the monk was the most brokenly powerful class there is (admittadely, it does look good on paper), and then wonder why he'd utterly fail in combat.

Part of the problem lied his inability to accept his own weaknesses. They'd run into a group of ogres, and he'd sprint up to them in the first round, leaving the tanky cleric in the dust. The cleric would have to waste an entire round sprinting just to try to keep up. Guess who the ogres all ganged up on the first round? The only guy there!

As the game went on, a fifth player joined in with a fighter, who was also behind the power curve. The casters I think took a bit of pitty and would buff them with their spells so they could contribute, and the wizard used lots of Conjuration crowd controll to help keep them safe to minimize the amount of healing needed after a battle.

Long post short: I agree with your assesment JaronK
Why on earth are wizards in the top, and rogues are not? A rogue can do anything the wizard can, given money and enough ranks in UMD.

This list is biased from a personal view, and does not take into account the importance of certain class abilities.

A wizard is useless without his party. So is the cleric.

And then we have anti-magic fields ...
And not every cleric will take the kobold domain.
If you are a cleric and want to be a trapfinder, you should be a rogue.

I'd assume a Wizard at higher levels would have a Dimensional Door readied

Where is that spell? I can't seem to find it. There is a similar one (Dimension Door) in PH, though. Also -- what a waste to just sit with that spell readied all the time, when you can use your turn for so many other useful things :D
The casters I think took a bit of pitty and would buff them with their spells so they could contribute, and the wizard used lots of Conjuration crowd controll to help keep them safe to minimize the amount of healing needed after a battle.

That's what the casters are there for!! Casters who don't help balance out the party by using crowd control and buffing, as appropriate, are not worth their salt.
I think monks should be about 2.5 not 5.
Show

IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/magic/images/whatcolor_isblack.jpg)Take the Magic: The Gathering 'What Color Are You?' Quiz.

I am Blue/Black
I am Blue/Black
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
I'm both selfish and rational. I'm scheming, secretive and manipulative; I use knowledge as a tool for personal gain, and in turn obtaining more knowledge. At best, I am mysterious and stealthy; at worst, I am distrustful and opportunistic.
Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
Why on earth are wizards in the top, and rogues are not? A rogue can do anything the wizard can, given money and enough ranks in UMD.

The rating is all about the potential. A rogue can't make his own scrolls and wands, and even those lack the versatility of a wizard. That's what brings them high. A rogue won't break anything without the special items, and then he's not versatile.

While I agree that the greatest wizards take the God route, I think that any wizard worth his salt will also experiment with his spells, and try some crazy combos. that's what that sky high Int score is used for.:P
Why on earth are wizards in the top, and rogues are not? A rogue can do anything the wizard can, given money and enough ranks in UMD.

Rogues with UMD can't cast Quickened or Maximized Time Stops. Plus, UMD isn't a good indicator of power, as anybody can use it. A commoner 20 with UMD can be scary.

A wizard is useless without his party. So is the cleric.

Hardly. Perhaps at low level, but that's about it. Have you ever tried attacking a prepared wizard? Once he gets to a high enough level, with Contigency and Greater Celerity, you'll only get a chance to attack him if he wants you to. Here's what happens:
  • You go to attack
  • The contigency triggers and casts greater celerity
  • He gets a full round action to draw his greater metamagic wand of maximize and casts time stop
  • He loses the first of his five rounds to the cost of celerity
  • He has four rounds to do whatever he wants at that point.

If he considers you a real threat, by the time you realize that your attack didn't connect, he's already shapechanged into a choker for the extra action each round, gated in a solar to fight you, buffed himself several times, trapped you in a slew of conjurations like web, black tenticles, acid fog, and stinking clound, and teleported to a relatively safe distance, eating popcorn all the while.

Wizards deserve tier 1

And not every cleric will take the kobold domain.
If you are a cleric and want to be a trapfinder, you should be a rogue.

And give up full casting? :P
In AD&D 1st edition, characters were epic at 9th level. You attracted followers and could solo adult dragons. That's it. People I knew then played for up to 3 years to hit 9th level.

For all the changes they made, the basic hit points / attack / level system is still the same thing.

If you play DnD 3.5 up to 9th level, it is decently balanced and fun. The barbarian or fighter is better until level 5 or 6, then the caster is better until level 9. It is fair. The wizard pays his dues and gets the reward for it.

DnD post 10th level makes nooooo damn sense.

You know, I haven't actually gotten above 10th level in a very long time... and casters can still dominate. Alter Self and Glitterdust are available at level 3. Polymorph joins the fun at 7. Explosive Runes and Shrink Item are available to a level 5 Wizard. To give you an idea of why those are so strong... Alter Self alone can be used to give you +8 natural AC (Crucian), Flight (Raptorian), Burrowing (Earth Mephling), Swimming (Aquatic Elf), +6 Natural AC and natural attacks (Troglogdite), +8 Move Silently and +15 Hide (Skulk) and a variety of other effects... again, on a level 3 Wizard. Explosive Runes can make incredible bombs... just cast a few during downtime on some paper, then intentionally botch a dispel magic check on them to do insane damage (try wrapping the paper around an arrow or some other delivery method).

I mean, a simple Color Spray at level 1 is amazing.

Meanwhile, Divine Persistant Lesser Mass Vigor can be cast by a level 5 Cleric to keep a party healed all day long... Divine Persistant Divine Power is available at 7 if the Cleric decides to be a melee. Heck, a level 7 Cleric with 14 turn attempts (not hard at all to get... Reliquary Holy Symbol + Nightstick + 14 Charisma + Eagle's Splendor gets you there at the beginning of the day) can Persist Divine Power, Divine Favor, and Lesser Mass Vigor (use a nice cheap Rod of Lesser Extend to extend the 3rd level spells after persisting so they last 48 hours, and you can thus cast each every other day). That's enough to be a solid melee tank and heal the entire party for the low cost of one 4th level slot and one 3rd level slot.

And Druids... at 5th level they can become a Fleshraker Dinosaur. Few melees can keep up, especially with Venomfire thrown in.

They point is, while Wizards are in fact glass cannons at the first couple levels, the concept of casters being weak at lower levels really is a myth. Now, melees tend to be stronger in the early levels so it's less noticeable then, but the power curve pretty much stays roughly the same.

JaronK
I've seen stuff work out like this time and time again. In the last game I ran, we had four characters at the beginning:
  • Cleric
  • Wizard
  • Druid
  • Monk

Guess which one sucked? ...

As the game went on, a fifth player joined in with a fighter, who was also behind the power curve. The casters I think took a bit of pitty and would buff them with their spells so they could contribute, and the wizard used lots of Conjuration crowd controll to help keep them safe to minimize the amount of healing needed after a battle.

Yeah, and that's exactly what this post is there for. If you're in a party that's Cleric Wizard Druid Monk Fighter, then you really need for the first three to make sure they use their spells to buff up the last two. That makes the last two feel important and useful in the party. Furthermore, as a DM you have to tailor the encounters to play to their strengths... melee encounters with enemies that use fort save based attacks, for example. And keep the downtime low... plus maybe have more of the magical gear that drops be tailored towards the Fighter and Monk (though of course that's not easy, the Cleric and Druid are perfectly good melees themselves, and both of them can make better use of that +Wisdom item than the Monk).

Basically, for players this list is to let you know when you're playing a class that's a lot stronger, so you know that you need to help out the weaker classes so they don't feel left behind, and for DMs this list is so you know who you have to take care of more.

JaronK
I think monks should be about 2.5 not 5.

Why? Let's look at those power tiers.

A Sorcerer (Tier 2) can create a new plane of existance at high levels (Genesis), and make them with Flowing Time, specifically making the plane mostly out of Obdurium for the heck of it. Now he can retreat somewhere to rest and recover where time moves 10,000 times faster.

He can use Animate Dread Warrior to create an endless army of undead. He can use Haunt Shift, Hardness, and Augment Object to make said undead into animate statues with a hardness of around 80, making them nearly immune to hitpoint damage. And then he can take over the world with his super robot army.

He can use Mindrape and Love's Pain to instantly kill anyone who he knows even a little bit about, with virtually no defense.

He can get infinite wealth by buying cows and casting Flesh to Salt on them, then selling the salt, or by casting Wall of Iron and then Fabricate (maybe with Magecraft if he doesn't have enough craft ranks) to make Masterwork Dwarvencraft Quality Suisilean Chainweave Fullplate, and then selling that.

Now, any one Sorcerer build can't do all of that (probably) but those are some of the options. You think Monks are really close to that? I don't. Let's look at Tier 3.

A Crusader can cast Heal once every three rounds at high levels. He's also one of the best tanks in the game... he even gets a stance that is literally "you can't die from hitpoint damage." One of his manuevers makes anyone else in the party act a second time this round, and he can do that once every three rounds. He can punch through any wall with his bare fist with the right manuever, even Obdurium walls and Magically Treated walls. You think Monks are stronger than that? I don't.

A Binder can create any magic item he wants by binding a vestige that gives him any item crafting feat (usually combined with the Anima Mage PrC, which advances his binding). He can make diplomacy checks rushed without penalty taking 10, allowing him to immediately switch enemies to his side. He can scout with Malphas birds totally safely while still remaining with the party. He can even turn into a Monk with the right vestige combination. You think Monks are stronger than that? I don't.

How about Swordsages? The Unarmed Varient Swordsage does unarmed damage like a monk. He gets Wis to AC... in light armour. He gets manuevers like "make 4 extra attacks this round" and "ignore all hardness and DR and do extra damage" and "add 1d6+your level in fire damage to all attacks this round" and "make two full attack actions this round." He gets stances like "walk on air" and "add 2d6 sneak attack damage" and "gain blindsense" and "gain immunity to critical hits." He doesn't get movement speed increases when running on the ground... instead he can fly and teleport and even phase through solid objects. Also, he can get incredible saves with the right counters. You think Monks are stronger than that? I don't.

So how about Tier 4? Well, the Barbarians can charge and hit for over 1k damage. Adepts can cast Polymorph. Rogues have UMD and Diplomacy combined. Hexblades also have Polymorph. Again... Monks are not at this level.

Which brings us down to Tier 5. On par with Fighters (who can do more damage, have more hitpoints, usually have equivalent AC though worse touch AC, but don't have all the random special abilities), Healers (who can cast Gate eventually, but are severely limited until that point), Experts (UMD+Diplomacy+Iajuitsu Focus+Autohypnosis!), and so on. And that's about right.

JaronK
Why on earth are wizards in the top, and rogues are not? A rogue can do anything the wizard can, given money and enough ranks in UMD.

And access to a magic mart that has every scroll they want... and as you said yourself, it costs them money. Spending all that money on scrolls is going to seriously hurt in the long run... you'll run out eventually. A Wizard learns the spell once and then it's his forever, and he can switch up his abilities without going back to town and spending a ton.

If a Wizard finishes an encounter by casting Glitterdust, it doesn't cost him anything. If he blows away everyone with Maw of Chaos, he doesn't spend more money to do that than the treasure gained by the spell.

This list is biased from a personal view, and does not take into account the importance of certain class abilities.

Such as what?

A wizard is useless without his party. So is the cleric.

I disagree, but if you really feel that way, make a party. Animate Dread Warrior, Planar Binding, Animate Dead, Create Greater Undead, Control Undead, Command Undead, Planar Ally, Rebuke Undead. Use those to get whatever you feel like you're missing. Seriously, creating a party is in the class features.

And then we have anti-magic fields ...

Animate Dead minions are unaffected. Plus, most Anti-Magic fields are tiny. Just avoid them, and if someone is inside them, shoot SR no spells (like the Orb spells) into it, which does work. Or if they really tick you off, cast Shrink Item on an anvil and drop it on the guy in the field.

And not every cleric will take the kobold domain.
If you are a cleric and want to be a trapfinder, you should be a rogue.

Why? What does the Rogue really give that a Cloistered Cleric with Kobold and Trickery Domains doesn't have with spells? Remember, the Divine Insight spell lets Clerics have better skills than Rogues. Sure, not every Cleric will have Kobold... if they don't want to be a trapfinder. If they do, why not?

Where is that spell? I can't seem to find it. There is a similar one (Dimension Door) in PH, though. Also -- what a waste to just sit with that spell readied all the time, when you can use your turn for so many other useful things :D

Um, I said Dimensional Door. You don't actually ready the spell, you just have it memorized. If someone grapples you, you use it to escape. Not that difficult. Personally, I prefer just creating a turret to hide in instead, but I play gnome Wizards.

JaronK
very good...most bookmark to show my stubborn friends

I usually hate Tier discussions in general since they turn into a huge flame war but like I've seen in SSBB some character don't perform better then others and the same is true for D&D

Its soo hard to challenge people when you want to send something strong enough for the Cleric but would ruin the Samurai or Rogue. Or DM a group that doesn't want to play the part of the Healer or Skill-Monkey but want to play some weird class or race...while later on they complain your being too rough on monsters or traps. Maybe I'm DMing wrong but I prefer to have a group just once like the usual.

  • Cleric
  • Rogue
  • Fighter
  • Wizard


I play in a very melee biased group and even when my DM allowed templates for only the melee PCs leaving my Druid in the dark I still did better. Soo when a Half-Elf Druid can do more in multiple areas then a Centaur Fighter and Werewolf Monk then thats pretty sad.

I even debated with one of them about the CW Samurai and how the Fighter could do better and still to this day he thinks the Samurai is better...? whatever

Sigh* my pool of nifty magic tricks is getting small when after a campaign ends my DM adds more to the ban list and still I most see the Werebear Dwarf Fighter.
The rating is all about the potential. A rogue can't make his own scrolls and wands, and even those lack the versatility of a wizard. That's what brings them high. A rogue won't break anything without the special items, and then he's not versatile.

While I agree that the greatest wizards take the God route, I think that any wizard worth his salt will also experiment with his spells, and try some crazy combos. that's what that sky high Int score is used for.:P

Sunder Spellbook = sucky wizard

Spellbooks = available to all classes = not a class feature :D
A Sorcerer (Tier 2) can create a new plane of existance at high levels (Genesis), and make them with Flowing Time, specifically making the plane mostly out of Obdurium for the heck of it. Now he can retreat somewhere to rest and recover where time moves 10,000 times faster.

A problem I have with this:

Let's say he sets time up to be, say, ten hours 'planar time' (eight hours of rest, an hour to consume, say, hero's feast, time to plan, buff, summon allies, and then zap back) to one round 'real time'...

Every three times you do this, you gain a day of life. Actually, using it a thousand times only gives you roughly an extra year of your life lived, so hm.

The "doing this makes you die young of old age" doesn't seem to hold up (unless my math is wrong)... but I'm posting this, for now, just in case anyone else thinks of it.

He can use Mindrape and Love's Pain to instantly kill anyone who he knows even a little bit about, with virtually no defense.

Or just Mindrape to gain an army of combat-powerful (say, dragons) or roleplaying-powerful (say, kings) slaves.


Now, any one Sorcerer build can't do all of that (probably) but those are some of the options. You think Monks are really close to that? I don't. Let's look at Tier 3.

Sounds like if you wanted to make Captain Brokencaster, you could almost do this ... you're using less than a full three spells per level every level, aren't you? Though you probably wouldn't, as you'd not have many other spells.


A Crusader can cast Heal once every three rounds at high levels. He's also one of the best tanks in the game... he even gets a stance that is literally "you can't die from hitpoint damage."

For clarity: And before someone says it, it does say it literally even though it also has caveats.


One of his manuevers makes anyone else in the party act a second time this round, and he can do that once every three rounds. He can punch through any wall with his bare fist with the right manuever, even Obdurium walls and Magically Treated walls. You think Monks are stronger than that? I don't.

Seriously, agreeing with Jaron here, I'd like to hear what monks bring that makes 'em on the same level.

Experts (UMD+Diplomacy+Iajuitsu Focus+Autohypnosis!)

Seriously, you keep giving me great ideas for BBEGs, and heck, one of them is going to be an expert, now. Maybe with Human Paragon and/or Exemplar tacked on, or maybe just an Expert.





And access to a magic mart that has every scroll they want... and as you said yourself, it costs them money. Spending all that money on scrolls is going to seriously hurt in the long run... you'll run out eventually. A Wizard learns the spell once and then it's his forever, and he can switch up his abilities without going back to town and spending a ton.

If a Wizard finishes an encounter by casting Glitterdust, it doesn't cost him anything. If he blows away everyone with Maw of Chaos, he doesn't spend more money to do that than the treasure gained by the spell.

Thanks, man. I've been trying to figure out why the UMD argument didn't strike me as meaningful, but I couldn't articulate it. Thanks for providing articulation.



Why? What does the Rogue really give that a Cloistered Cleric with Kobold and Trickery Domains doesn't have with spells?

Sneak attack (eh, eh?), 2 more skill points / level (though no greater int synergy than the cleric).


Remember, the Divine Insight spell lets Clerics have better skills than Rogues. Sure, not every Cleric will have Kobold... if they don't want to be a trapfinder. If they do, why not?

For the generally mechanically irrelevant to the discussion argument of roleplaying. There's reasons, but they don't really matter to disucssions of balance.



Also, GalaGalaxia, do you really believe this discussion, especially the spellbook thing, or are you just trying to argue / make jokes?
I will point out one thing...Contingency effects don't go off until AFTER the effect that triggers them, and there's no inbuilt 'detect' in Contingency.

Thus, a contingency would trigger AFTER you had been attacked...it's a reaction to the attack, it's not detecting the attack and activating first.

So, the celerity might be moot if you are already dead.

==

I really think that the best use of this kind of tiering system is to identify the points which form the tiers...and then work backwards to balance them all at a reasonable Tier.

For instance, what would you have to do to make a Fighter a Tier1 character? Give him +1 to Str/Con/Dex for every Fighter bonus feat? All his gear gains +1 bonuses/2 Fighter feats just for being put on? +1 to all saves for every Fighter bonus feat? Ability to cleave through Dimensions? Personal AMF that didn't affect him? Move faster then magic could possibly duplicate? get a personal kingdom at level 18? Apply Fighter bonus feats towards any skill check? Triple and quadruple effects from any feat taken as a Fighter bonus feat?

I think we can all agree that such an animal would be unplayable. But if that's true, why are you allowing Tier 1 spellcasters?

Simply really. Spellcasters aren't broken...spells are.

Look at every one of Jaron's arguments considering spellcasters. He latches onto the most broken spells.

What happens when the spellcasters cannot cast those broken spell effects?

What happens when there is no shapechanging magic?

Is this 'nerfing' spellcasters? By no means. they retain all their class abilities. It's getting rid of the broken tools they use, spells being no different from magic items in this instance. If your fighter has a +5 Vorpal Sword of instant Death of the Gods, you have no compunction taking it away from him, and no, not allowing him to sell it for 5 million gp, either.
So, why are you letting your mage get away with wall of iron/fabricate? It's the same thign...it's a broken effect, inappropriate for level and usage, generating unlimited gold.
Why are you allowing the Polymorph chain of spells, which get more powerful with every new monster, and are more effective at buffing physical stats/AC then spells devoted SPeCIFICALLY to those purposes? If you allow this, fighters should get +1 AC/Str/Dex/Con for every Fighter bonus feat, just to balance out the power of these spells.

The simple fact that you can use UMD and cash to duplicate all the unbeatability of the spellcasters tells you where the inherent problem lies. Jaron as much as said that he could generate unlimited gold with fabricate and wall of iron. So an item that could Fabricate and another that could cast wall / iron would generate infinite cash, which would pay for infiniite UMD.

Ergo, spellcasters are not Tier 1. What's Tier 1 are some of the spells they use. To truly balance out spellcasters, you have to Tier the spells they use. And once you do that, it becomes a simple matter of removing those unbalanced spells/magic items from the game to stop spellcaster and UMD abuse.

Spellcasters can be of ANY tier. It's simply a matter of deciding what equipment they can have access to. Most melee oriented characters have access to inferior equipment....feats, some class abilities.

People poo poo UMD guys doing what Spellcasters do. The fact is, it's simply subbing a skill check and gold for x levels of a class. Spellcasters do this sort of thing with caster levels. Same effect...it's just rude to steal their thunder so effectively and thoroughly.

===========================================

SO! To make this a true Tiering system, just point out the 'gear' that makes spellcasters Tier 1...and then just start getting rid of them, and you will quickly have a balanced campaign.

I.e. spellcasters who are allowed to cast the following spells or do the following things can be considered Tier 1:

Wish
The polymorph Chain
Celerity
Time Stop
Break the metacap on spells.
Unlimited access to picking spells.
etc etc

Spellcasters who are allowed to do the following are Tier 2, and so forth.

===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
A problem I have with this:

Let's say he sets time up to be, say, ten hours 'planar time' (eight hours of rest, an hour to consume, say, hero's feast, time to plan, buff, summon allies, and then zap back) to one round 'real time'...

Every three times you do this, you gain a day of life. Actually, using it a thousand times only gives you roughly an extra year of your life lived, so hm.

The "doing this makes you die young of old age" doesn't seem to hold up (unless my math is wrong)... but I'm posting this, for now, just in case anyone else thinks of it.

Not only that, but IIRC the "Timeless" trait makes you not age while you're on the plane. You then "catch up" with your aging when you leave the plane, but you catch up to the amount of aging you would have done on the material plane. Thus, on a Timeless and Flowing Time plane where a year passes for every day, you could study and reasearch new spells for 365 years, then come back, and you'd suddenly age exactly one year.

I'm not, however, totally positive that you can have both Timeless and Flowing Time on the same plane.

Or just Mindrape to gain an army of combat-powerful (say, dragons) or roleplaying-powerful (say, kings) slaves.

True, but that requires getting close to them!

Sounds like if you wanted to make Captain Brokencaster, you could almost do this ... you're using less than a full three spells per level every level, aren't you? Though you probably wouldn't, as you'd not have many other spells.

I suspect if you wanted to do that, you'd play a Wizard... though with Runestaffs, a Sorcerer can indeed have all the wacky broken spells on his list and then be able to cast normal spells too.

Seriously, you keep giving me great ideas for BBEGs, and heck, one of them is going to be an expert, now. Maybe with Human Paragon and/or Exemplar tacked on, or maybe just an Expert.

Well, Factotum does it better, but there's something so very slick about using an Expert to kick bottom.

Thanks, man. I've been trying to figure out why the UMD argument didn't strike me as meaningful, but I couldn't articulate it. Thanks for providing articulation.

Sure. I started with Rogues... thieves and the like are my favorite playstyle. Love 'em to death but I know their weaknesses, and the difference between playing a Rogue and playing a Wizard is extreme. The cash cost of UMD is just too high to go insane, plus it requires the DM to actually give you whatever spell you wanted each time you wanted to use it (whereas a Wizard gets the spells as a class feature).

Sneak attack (eh, eh?), 2 more skill points / level (though no greater int synergy than the cleric).

Well yeah, there's a few things, but he was specifically talking about trapfinding. As a trap finder, a Cleric can have Search and Hide, plus tons of utility spells, and Divine Insight.

For the generally mechanically irrelevant to the discussion argument of roleplaying. There's reasons, but they don't really matter to disucssions of balance.

Well yeah, you might not want to be a Kobold, obviously. Still, Clerics can handle the trapfinding thing, and Artificers can to, and so can Beguilers, and so can Factotums. It's not as though it's impossible to have a trapfinder that's at least relatively close in power level to the Big 5... though I actually think the better solution is simply not to play any of the Big 5 casters.

Also, GalaGalaxia, do you really believe this discussion, especially the spellbook thing, or are you just trying to argue / make jokes?

I can only assume it was either trolling or sarcasm.

JaronK
...Where does the Knight fit in?
I will point out one thing...Contingency effects don't go off until AFTER the effect that triggers them, and there's no inbuilt 'detect' in Contingency.

Thus, a contingency would trigger AFTER you had been attacked...it's a reaction to the attack, it's not detecting the attack and activating first.

So, the celerity might be moot if you are already dead.

Contingency: If anyone other than my party mates gets within 10' or me, or I say "Flabbergast", teleport me in X manner." Remember, you can speak as a free action in someone else's turn.

I really think that the best use of this kind of tiering system is to identify the points which form the tiers...and then work backwards to balance them all at a reasonable Tier.

You can, but it involves a huge amount of house ruling, which is more work than most DMs want to deal with. And you of course must decide which Tier is reasonable. I prefer Tier 3, though a lot of people like Tier 4.

For instance, what would you have to do to make a Fighter a Tier1 character? Give him +1 to Str/Con/Dex for every Fighter bonus feat? All his gear gains +1 bonuses/2 Fighter feats just for being put on? +1 to all saves for every Fighter bonus feat? Ability to cleave through Dimensions? Personal AMF that didn't affect him? Move faster then magic could possibly duplicate? get a personal kingdom at level 18? Apply Fighter bonus feats towards any skill check? Triple and quadruple effects from any feat taken as a Fighter bonus feat?

I think we can all agree that such an animal would be unplayable. But if that's true, why are you allowing Tier 1 spellcasters?

Well, I often don't allow them, or heavily nerf them. But yeah, I wouldn't pump anyone up to Tier 1.

Simply really. Spellcasters aren't broken...spells are.

That's silly. Spellcasters ARE their spells. That's it, that's simply what they are. Except Druids of course, who are Spellcasters AND Wildshaping psychokillers.

Look at every one of Jaron's arguments considering spellcasters. He latches onto the most broken spells.

Not "broken." Powerful. When I talk about what the most powerful things are that spellcasters can do, I of course talk about the most powerful spells (or combinations of spells). Again, spellcasting classes are, basically, their spells.

What happens when the spellcasters cannot cast those broken spell effects?

They get less broken, obviously.

What happens when there is no shapechanging magic?

Well, that's a drop in the bucket, but it helps. A lot of DMs nerf the polymorph line for good reason.

Is this 'nerfing' spellcasters? By no means. they retain all their class abilities. It's getting rid of the broken tools they use, spells being no different from magic items in this instance. If your fighter has a +5 Vorpal Sword of instant Death of the Gods, you have no compunction taking it away from him, and no, not allowing him to sell it for 5 million gp, either.

No. "Get a +5 Vorpal Sword of Instand Death of the Gods" is not a Fighter class feature. And spells ARE a caster's class abilities. You change or remove their spells, you're nerfing casters. This isn't to say that's a bad thing (as certainly the Big 5 casters need it) but let's call a spade a spade here.

Ergo, spellcasters are not Tier 1. What's Tier 1 are some of the spells they use. To truly balance out spellcasters, you have to Tier the spells they use. And once you do that, it becomes a simple matter of removing those unbalanced spells/magic items from the game to stop spellcaster and UMD abuse.

That's just stupid. A Wizard without his spells is a commoner (Tier 6). And yet, Wizards are not Tier 6. A Wizard is his spellcasting, that's all there is to it. He gets that as a class feature. You're trying to pretend something doesn't exist within the class when it very clearly does. The ability to cast any spell on his list is a Cleric class feature. Access to and the ability to cast said spells is a class feature. The fact that it's simply his to use as he sees fit is a class feature. Claiming spells aren't class features is like claiming vestiges aren't Binder class features or Wild Shape Forms aren't Druid class features.

People poo poo UMD guys doing what Spellcasters do. The fact is, it's simply subbing a skill check and gold for x levels of a class. Spellcasters do this sort of thing with caster levels. Same effect...it's just rude to steal their thunder so effectively and thoroughly.

No, it's not that. It's that the amount of gold required and the amount of gear dependency involved makes it untennable as a long term viable strategy unless the DM is giving you specific permission every time to do it. It's like your Fabricate/Wall of Iron item concept. Sure, that would give you endless wealth... if the DM gave you those specific custom items A Wizard or Sorcerer can just have those spells by leveling up to the appropriate level.

SO! To make this a true Tiering system, just point out the 'gear' that makes spellcasters Tier 1...and then just start getting rid of them, and you will quickly have a balanced campaign.

Spells are class features. Gear is not (unless you're a UA Samurai, Artificer or Kensai or something, then it's a class feature).

JaronK
...Where does the Knight fit in?

I don't have enough experience with that class to answer that question. It's definitely below the Crusader, that's certain, and obviously above the CW Samurai, so it's Tier 4 or 5, but I really can't say which since I just don't know enough about the class.

JaronK
Spells are not a class feature. Spells are ACQUIRED as a class feature.

Spells are exactly like loot.

Spells stand on their own merits. Vestiges stand on their own merits. The ability to get spells and use them is a class feature.

A spell is no different an acquisition then skill with every martial weapon is. Just because the fighter can use any martial weapon doesn't mean he owns all of them at once, or is entitled to, or that all the weapons are balanced against one another, does it?

Same with spells. Spells are nothing more then tools. They can be acquired with gold. They can be used properly, they can be abused, they can be overpowered, they can be underpowered.

And spells are what make spellcasters overpowered.

Ergo, if you want a balanced game, you go after the spells and the effects tied to them.
========
By your rankings, Knights are like Paladins.

They have MAD because of Cha reqs for their Test of Mettle, which is also required for them to keep even with combat effectiveness (Mettle gives + TH/Dmg)

Many of their class abilities are sidestepped as levels increase.

They are a heavy armor wearing class, which is discriminated against in the rules.

They otherwise fill the standard melee roles, but don't dominate other areas successfully moreso then any other melee.

==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
Sunder Spellbook = sucky wizard

Spellbooks = available to all classes = not a class feature :D

Well, hopefully the wizard is either not carrying their primary spellbook on them into combat and/or they've taken measures to protect it (i.e. not using it as a shield :P).
I will point out one thing...Contingency effects don't go off until AFTER the effect that triggers them, and there's no inbuilt 'detect' in Contingency.

Thus, a contingency would trigger AFTER you had been attacked...it's a reaction to the attack, it's not detecting the attack and activating first.

So, the celerity might be moot if you are already dead.

Well, I'll admit that Contingency isn't a 100% foolproof option, but it can be a good one. If you're expecting a specific threat, it will be much more valuable. If not, then you run the risk of not triggering it when you want it, or triggering it when you don't.

Still, with or without Contingency, if the wizard makes it to the next round, he's going to be tough to kill.
Spells are not a class feature. Spells are ACQUIRED as a class feature.

And usable as a class feature. Everything about them is a class feature. Just like feats are AQUIRED as a class feature for Fighters, really. But it's safe to say that certain feats are a class feature for Fighters.

Spells are exactly like loot.

No. You do not get loot just for leveling up (unless you're one of a few very specific classes). Note that "Spells" is listed as a class feature for all caster classes... just look at any class entry. See the second entry for Sorcerers? It's "Spells." It's right there in the text of every single thing.

A spell is no different an acquisition then skill with every martial weapon is. Just because the fighter can use any martial weapon doesn't mean he owns all of them at once, or is entitled to, or that all the weapons are balanced against one another, does it?

Ah, but just because a Cleric has access to a spell DOES mean he owns it. And he's entitled to all other Cleric spells. Does this mean all spells are balanced? No. Just like not all feats are balanced (Powerful Charge, for example, is much weaker than Shock Trooper, and Efficient Pull is much weaker than Weapon Specialization).

Look, you're completely off base and refusing to look at the books. "Spells" is an entry in the class for every spellcasting class. It's right there. That makes it a class feature. "Gear" is not on the table (proficiency might be, but except for a short list of classes, you don't just get the gear by being in the class). Does spellcasting need to be nerfed to bring the Big 5 in line? Of course. But trying to pretend that Wizard spells aren't a subset of the Wizard class is totally offbase.

By your rankings, Knights are like Paladins.

Paladins are another I'm unfamiliar with.

They are a heavy armor wearing class, which is discriminated against in the rules.

Yes, lord knows Clerics, Binders, and Crusaders are incredibly weak and "discriminated against."

But seriously, I'm not going to put in a class without some experience with it. That's why the Battledancer isn't in there, and why most psionics aren't in there, and why the Totemist is missing too.

JaronK
Well, I'll admit that Contingency isn't a 100% foolproof option, but it can be a good one. If you're expecting a specific threat, it will be much more valuable. If not, then you run the risk of not triggering it when you want it, or triggering it when you don't.

Still, with or without Contingency, if the wizard makes it to the next round, he's going to be tough to kill.

I like Contingecy: When I cast Feather Fall. It's an immediate action spell, so it's great for reacting. However, that one doesn't work when flat footed.

The other one is Contingency: When someone larger than tiny sized other than a party mate gets within 10' of me and I haven't said "Artichoke" in the last minute. That way you can have it when you need it, but not have it trigger in town.

JaronK
The other one is Contingency: When someone larger than tiny sized other than a party mate gets within 10' of me and I haven't said "Artichoke" in the last minute. That way you can have it when you need it, but not have it trigger in town.

JaronK

I like that.

I was trying to think up something similar along the lines of someone approaching within ten or twenty feet with a weapon, but it was still both too vague, and likely not to work when I needed it. The only revision you might want with the above contingency is to increase it to 15 feet or so, just in case they're charging you with a reach weapon. ;)
Well, yeah, at higher levels you might want 15 or even 20'. If you're going up against dragons, you may want more still. Just be careful not to have it go off mid combat when you don't want it to... you don't want it to trigger when the enemy gets stopped before it gets to you anyway.

JaronK
Can't it be "when I'm going to be hit", or some variation of "right before being struck by what would be a successful attack"?
You know, I haven't actually gotten above 10th level in a very long time... and casters can still dominate. Alter Self and Glitterdust are available at level 3. Polymorph joins the fun at 7. Explosive Runes and Shrink Item are available to a level 5 Wizard. To give you an idea of why those are so strong... Alter Self alone can be used to give you +8 natural AC (Crucian), Flight (Raptorian), Burrowing (Earth Mephling), Swimming (Aquatic Elf), +6 Natural AC and natural attacks (Troglogdite), +8 Move Silently and +15 Hide (Skulk) and a variety of other effects... again, on a level 3 Wizard. Explosive Runes can make incredible bombs... just cast a few during downtime on some paper, then intentionally botch a dispel magic check on them to do insane damage (try wrapping the paper around an arrow or some other delivery method).

I mean, a simple Color Spray at level 1 is amazing.

Meanwhile, Divine Persistant Lesser Mass Vigor can be cast by a level 5 Cleric to keep a party healed all day long... Divine Persistant Divine Power is available at 7 if the Cleric decides to be a melee. Heck, a level 7 Cleric with 14 turn attempts (not hard at all to get... Reliquary Holy Symbol + Nightstick + 14 Charisma + Eagle's Splendor gets you there at the beginning of the day) can Persist Divine Power, Divine Favor, and Lesser Mass Vigor (use a nice cheap Rod of Lesser Extend to extend the 3rd level spells after persisting so they last 48 hours, and you can thus cast each every other day). That's enough to be a solid melee tank and heal the entire party for the low cost of one 4th level slot and one 3rd level slot.

And Druids... at 5th level they can become a Fleshraker Dinosaur. Few melees can keep up, especially with Venomfire thrown in.

They point is, while Wizards are in fact glass cannons at the first couple levels, the concept of casters being weak at lower levels really is a myth. Now, melees tend to be stronger in the early levels so it's less noticeable then, but the power curve pretty much stays roughly the same.

JaronK

It's my experiance that the caster the weaker class until 7, then it takes over. I don't remember if I said that. I see what you are saying.

I liked the old days when casters got like, half the spells per day and damage auto fizzled their spells.

That said, I think it is fair and fun at low levels. The rangers and rogues are the exciting characters. The wizard can pull a fight, but, they need to have some utility. If they don't the party will be left hanging, at least in my game. So wizards can change a fight, but usually just once or twice.

I hear you, I'm just not sure I think they are a problem at levels under 7. They get FUN at 5...
Can't it be "when I'm going to be hit", or some variation of "right before being struck by what would be a successful attack"?

Actually, no, because the spell can't see the future (which that would require). "When someone attacks me in melee" would work though, because you declare the attack before you see if it hits. If you do that, it will go off if the enemy would hit you or if they'd miss you.

Of course, if you're using mirror image, you could go with "When someone targets me with a melee attack" and it should only trigger if they get the right mirror image.

JaronK
Sign In to post comments