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Grunker's Comments on the Classes Thread

PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 11:19 am
by Grunker
Hi guys, especially BlueSalamander. I promised to make a thread with a rundown of my thoughts for all the classes, so here it is as promised. For simplicity's sake, I will be making one post in this thread for each of the classes, starting with the first: The Barbarian. Please disregard this thread until the second post - The Barbarian - appears :)

Some general pointers to my method of commenting (I will update this continually):

- I will only comment on things where I think there should be changes. This means that if I don't comment on something, I think it is perfect as is.

- I suggest that you change smite and similar abilities so they are used up even on failed attempts. They are very powerful abilities generally, and should not be free.

Final note:

It goes without saying that I love KotC to death, and for me KotC2 looks to be a vastly improved KotC. So big kudos to BlueSalamander for starting this project - I'm giddy as a school girl with expectation :)


PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 11:29 am
by Grunker

The Barbarian is generally fine - compared to other fighting classes. D&D 3.5 has a definete balance bias towards casters after level 7. This is handled in expansioned D&D by the supplement Tome of Battle - The Book of Nine Swords. While I wouldn't encourage you to scrap your melee classes and include the Nine Swords classes instead, I would definetely encourage you to learn from the fact that melee classes are just not good enough in core D&D, and include some stuff to make them better.

For the Barbarian, I would suggest taking notes from Pathfinder, which handles the Barbarian in an excellent manner. It does this by adding another, simple aspect to the class, without altering it altogether! In Pathfinder, a Barbarian has Rage Powers - abilities it can use while raged. Examples are varied and interesting - everything from passively gaining Pounce (full attack on charge) while raged to standard actions like making a bull-rush as part of an attack, or even weird stuff like gaining an extra bite attack each round at a -5 penalty to max BAB in addition to its normal attacks.

Of course, we shouldn't copy the Rage Power ability completely both due to minor copyright issues and the fact that they might not suit KotC2 in their complete Pathfinder form. It would also take a lot of work to implement all of them. But, a few, simple abilities might empower the Barbarian to a point where it still feels useful at high levels.

I would be more than happy to suggest a complete set of Rage Powers and make a fully detailed set of rules for them - but I need to know what you think of the idea first, and whether you actually have the time and will to implement such a thing. I think it would be a really good idea obviously, and I have the experience with customizing D&D to make them :)

Of course, I am not a programmer, and thus I do not know the limits to your capabilities as well as the engine's. But I'm pretty sure the Rage Power ability could be implemented in a very simple manner that wouldn't make too much trouble for you.


PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 12:05 pm
by Grunker

The Bard is generally very good in your iteration at early levels, but from level 10 or so it loses a lot of its power (see why below). Its spells have been taken away and in turn it has been granted four at will abilities - bard "spells" - which are used as a standard action. Its Bard Songs have become free actions - something that definetely adds a bunch to its utility. Arcane Rhyme and Sanctuary Score seem like abilities that would make me consider adding a bard to the party. However, they have some weird stuff:

- d10 hit points. This seems to me to have been implemented in the knowledge that the bard is perhaps not good enough on the terms of just its abilities. However, the difference between d8 and d10 hit points is very small in reality. I would make them d8 hit points, so they still have more than casters, and fix the problems with the class by making them have a little more 'umph'.

- The high BAB is the same issue as above. The problem is that a bard can't use a bard spell and attack in the same turn, and thus having the bard spells and a full BAB are mutually exclusive. See below.

- Lingering Song is absolutely useless. Its a 'dead feat' so to speak. It's a free action to initiate a bard song, so the duration of bard song's only becomes relevant when the bard is disabled and therefore unable to reinitiate a song. Taking a feat that solely benefits in this narrow situation seems pretty bad - so removal of Lingering Song is what I'd do. Perhaps change the feat to do something else.

- Initiating a song should probably be a Swift action, not a free action. Have you implemented Swift actions? If not, just keep it as a free action, it's not that big of a deal.

- Let's consider what a Bard will do on its turn. Most probably, it will start a song if one is not already active, and use a bard spell. That means that a bard's turn will almost always consist of using 1 of 4 spells or "auto-attacking." Here, it begins to suffer from the Jack of All Trades syndrome - it can do everything but nothing particularly well. In general, this is fine at low levels, but what about mid to high levels? Well, Pipes of Pain certainly seems like a bad thing for a 12th level character to be doing. Heavenly Melody seems very uninteresting except when fighting trash mobs, and even then, a fireball or similar spell will probably serve you better. Cursed Dirge is mostly interesting when fighting boss fights and single monsters. Countersong is a really good spell, but again, with narrow usability. How do we give the bard some stuff that will always be useful? The bard has full BAB, so if none of these apply, it could "auto-attack", but it will be much worse at this than the barbarian or fighter, and being lightly armored it probably will not want to get too much up in the face of enemies, even with high HD. Thus, it will probably be safest for the Bard to rely on ranged attacks - bows, crossbows, thrown weapons, etc. The problem with these are that they are not nearly as good as melee-attacks which do not require the feats ranged attacks do (Precise Shot comes to mind) to be effective and generally deal more damage (by way of power attack and strength bonus - both of which the bard probably won't be able to utilize very well).

- How do we solve the above issue? Well, it's a tough nut to crack, because the Bard is always a little weird. I have two preliminary suggestions. Both include making the bard gain 3/4 BAB, like the Cleric. The first suggestion is borrowing the Inspirations from NWN2. Much can be said about that game, but it handled this aspect pretty well, giving powerful, passive auras to a Bard. Only one active at a time, and it gained access to different inspirations on different levels. This of course would essentially give it two bard songs active at all times, so it might not be the best solution. The second suggestion is adding a range of buffs to Bard spells. This also makes the Bard more active. Buffs are generally useful at all levels, and so would help balance the bard at later levels without making it more powerful at low levels. You could also add another layer to this solution which borrows a bit from the druid - make some of these buffs better but make them only apply to the bard itself. For example, a buff that gave the bard a strength bonus, temporary hit points and full BAB for a duration, making it more safe to get up in the face of enemies.I'm just brainstorming here, but in my mind the bard right now feels weird and icky. The full BAB and d10 hit points makes it, by all standards, a fighter, but granting it active standard action abilities on top of this and restricting its armor without giving it an AC bonus like the monk's is contradictory.

Let me know what you think :)


PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 12:42 pm
by Grunker

Overall, the cleric is good. It's a spellcaster, so just having some Turn Undead and a few domain powers seems great. My only suggestions would be granting a single Domain Power on levels 1, 5 and 15, so it feels like there is some progression in the class besides spellcasting. Having access to 3 domain powers from level 15+ is hardly broken :)

Also, the fact that domains are tied to the Turn Undead attempts makes sense, but it is confusing that some are only usable once per day. Do the 1/day powers also expend turn attempts?

I do have some comments for the specific domain powers though:

Smite: I feel an attempt should be wasted on miss. Smited is a very powerful option well worth investing in for a combat-centric cleric. I feel it would be one of the most powerful choices even if attempts disappeared on a miss.

Paralysis: Should be a Fortitude saving throw.

Pandemonium: Should be a Will saving throw. Extremely powerful effect, but once per day so quite OK.

Banishment: I would never pick this domain power. It is very narrow, and most creatures will make their saves. Make it dispel all summons in the area automatically as well as banishing other outsiders as it does now, and remove the 1/day rule. Make sure loot stays behind. These changes would make me consider picking it :)

Destruction and Healing: Is this a permanent passive, or does it have a duration?

Spells are fine!


PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 1:09 pm
by Grunker

I have some suggestions here - mostly simple though. Again, I am looking to empower the fighting classes so their late-game becomes better. Therefore, my suggestions include a number of things to give the death knight more edge later on without empowering them too much at early levels.

Base saves: Should be high Fort and Will, in my opinion, and low Ref. High Ref doesn't make much sense.

Smite: I would give the Death Knight more Smite attempts. Something like at levels 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18. Especially if you add my change regarding losing Smite attempts if the attack does not hit.

Life drain: Make this usable as part of an attack instead like smite, but keep the requirement of a standard action. This makes it a natural part of what the death knight wants to do - it wants to attack. So it should say "You can make a single attack at your full base attack bonus that deals an additional amount of damage equal to 1d6 Hit Points per two levels, rounded up. A creature is entitled to a Fortitude saving throw do cut this additional damage in half. The death knight is healed of an amount equal to the additional damage dealt."

Life drain suggestion #2: I don't know if this is possible to program, but to really make this power shine, you could have an additional clause that sounds like this: "Even if the attack misses, there is still a chance that the Life Draining portion of the attack will hit. The attack needs only hit the target's touch AC for the life draining damage to be dealt."

Sneak attack: I see what you're doing here, but I think it would be really interesting to differentiate this ability from a normal sneak attack. I propose the following:

Death Attack: "Extra damage dealt in melee to an enemy who is sickened, nauseated, fatigued, exhausted, blinded, stunned, held, paralyzed, confused, disabled, fascinated, shaken, frightened, helpless, grappled, panicked, pinned, prone, staggered, limping, impaired, or bleeding. This ability only works if the enemy is not immune to critical hits." This makes it worse than sneak attack because the target needs to have a condition applied, but better because it works on creatures that are concealed and doesn't need flanking or loss of Dex to work.

Death Attack suggestion #2: To make death attack easier to use, you could add an additional clause to the Life Drain power so that it required two Fortitude saves; one to take half damage, and one to avoid becoming fatigued as a result of the power.

That's it for the Death Knight so far. If we agree on giving fighting classes a buff, we should maybe revisit it later.


PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 1:47 pm
by Grunker

So far, I've been very positive towards your classes. They seem interesting and have good variation and balance. That really goes for most of your classes, I must applaud you for your general approach! Now we come to the Druid however, and I am tempted to call it, quite possibly, the most horrible class of all the classes - namely because it is underpowered. There are two primary reasons for this:

1) Its spells are worse than the Wizard's and the Cleric's.

2) The natural armor bonus borders on useless. It can gain a superior effect from a magical necklace or 2nd level spell.

Luckily, there is quite a few simple ways to redeem the druid that doesn't entail complicated stuff like returning it to the SRD version of a companion-master and wild shaper. I have two main suggestions, and I think perhaps both should be implemented:

Suggestion #1: The first fix is borrowed happily from Unearthed Arcana. Unearthed Arcana has an alternative to Wild shape called Aspects. Basically, it is a mantle that a druid can take on to gain a number of beneficial effects. A druid gains access to different aspects at different levels. As an example a druid could perhaps take on a single aspect a level 1, take on two aspects simultaneously at level 10, and three at level 20. Example aspects could be:

Aspect of Nature: Can take it on at level 1. Druid gains +1 Natural armor bonus. Creatures summoned while the druid is in this aspect gain a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls and their duration is extended by 3 rounds.

Aspect of Plants: Can take it on at level 4. The druid gains immunity to critical hits, paralysis and stunning, gains a +2 bonus to strength, takes double damage from fire.

Aspect of Fire: Can take it on at level 12. Gains +4 to Strength and Dexterity, is immune to fire, paralysis and stunning, can cast fireball at will, dealing 10d6 damage. Takes double damage from cold.

You get the picture. Again, as with the bard, I'd be more than happy to actually make suggestions for the full class feature, but I need to know if you're even interested :)

Suggestion #2: This fix is a way to implement the companion aspect of the Druid without the complexity. Simply take the summoning spells away from the druid and implement them as spell-like abilities instead, usable as a free action, with a maximum of summons of 1 at level 1-5, 2 at level 6-14 and 3 at level 15-20. Or something like that. Each summon should be usable once per day, and the druid should get the ability to summon more powerful creatures at the same rate it now gains access to cast the equivalent spell. That is, summon wolf at level 1, summon crocodile at level 3 and so on.

What do you think about this?


PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:07 pm
by Grunker

The Fighter is almost fine as is, but I do have some suggestions. The fighter needs good feats only available to it to make it a viable choice over all the "special class feature" classes.

First off, give the fighter d12 HD. This is really not unbalanced.

Alterations to current feats:

Survival: This should be one feat that does two things: Firstly, it should double the death cap (from -10 to -20) and secondly it should allow the fighter to keep fighting until he drops to -10. Otherwise, I'm not sure this feat is at all worth it.

Tower-Shield Expertise: This should be one feat that reduces the penalty to 0, again, to give the Fighter some umph.

Suggestions for new fighter-only feats:

These feats should only be available to the fighter. They are all relatively powerful, to give the Fighter an edge compared to the other classes who have access to all sorts of delicious goodies. Again, I haven't detailed the rules of each feat fully, because I want to make sure you're interested in using the stuff before I put too much work into it.

Two-Handed Specialization: Ups the strength multiplier from 1.5 to 2 when using two-handed weapons. Requires 16 strength and fighter level 6+.

Powerful Build: Increase weapon damage and grapple as if half-giant, without actually becoming large, and taking no penalties to AC and Attack. Requires fighter level 5+, non-half giant.

Powerful Criticals: Increase critical hit multiplier for selected weapon group by 1 (for example, from x2 to x3). Requires Greater Weapon Group Specialization.

Iron Surge: Gain immunity to damage from spells for a number of rounds equal to Con modifier once per day. Usable as a standard action. Requires Constitution 16. Can be taken multiple times, the feat can be used an additional time per day every time the fighter takes the feat.

And so on, you get the picture :)


PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:35 pm
by Grunker

So... The Monk. Again, one of the most weak classes as we've talked about before. I'll try once again to make suggestions for an easy "fix".

- Grant it d10 HD.

- My first order of the day would then be changing the damage dice. It's a relatively simple way of upping the monk's power a bit. My changes would be to make all dice one step higher so it would be: d8/d10/d12/2d8/2d10/2d12.

- Second thing is that percentage-based abilities are very bad. This is the reason 3.5 smashed everything in AD&D that was percentile-based, such as resitances. At the same time, the uses/day stunning fist was underwhelming and tiresome. I suggest an alternate route for stunning fist. Make it work 100% of the time, with the same saving throw as now, but change its effects. For example: At level one, the monk gains Fatiguing Fist, which applies the fatigue condition on a failed save for 1 round. This is upgraded to Sickening Fist on level 5, then Blinding Fist on level 10, Stunning Fist on level 15 and finally Paralyzing First on level 20.

- Grant monks a +2 bonus on grapple checks on level 4, then another +2 bonus on level 8. This also synergizes with their Sleep Hold.

- Upgrade Sleep Hold on level 12, so that if the grapple check is successful the target takes damage as if hit by the monks unarmed attack, after which it must attempt the Fortitude saving throw or fall asleep.

- Upgrade Deflect Arrows at level 13 to Reflect Arrows, which reflects the ranged attack back at the attacker. Upgrader Reflect Arrows to Reflect Ranged Attacks at level 17, which reflects all ranged attacks including ranged touch attacks such as spells like Melf's Acid Arrow. Still only works once per round of course.

- Grant the Monk the Pounce ability on level 11 (full attack on charge)

- As a final order of business make them immune to certain conditions on certain levels. Example could be one immunity each 4 levels, starting on level 4 with immunity to being sickened, then 8th blinded, then 12th slowed, 16th critical hits, 20th ability drain. Or something along those lines.

I feel these changes would help bring the Monk to a level where it could compete. The Monk is a difficult subject because it, by its very nature, is a gimmicky class. It doesn't always work, is situational, and often it stands around being immune to the enemy (which doesn't help the rest of the party because they're dying while their immune party member does nothing against the enemy). So I'm not sure, but the changes above outline what I feel would help the monk.


PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:50 pm
by Grunker

The paladin is thankfully mostly fine, just as the Death Knight. The paladin's problem is that it is pretty inferior compared to the Death Knight at the moment, so I have a few suggestions:

- Up the number of times the paladin can use Smite as per suggested in my Death Knight section.

- Give the Paladin high Will saves.

- Divine Grace: Restore this ability to its former glory (a bonus to saving throw equal to the Paladin's Charisma modifier, minimum +1).

- Use the PHB2 alternative class feature Spirit Healer. Basically, from level 5 the paladin can summon an incorporeal spirit to the battlefield. This spirit has no abilities, hit points or similar, but has a Lay on Hands "pool" the same size as the paladin would normally have, can move 30 feet per turn, and use its lay on hands as a touch. Obviously, your paladin doesn't have Lay on Hands, but this spirit will have it.

- If you are going to implement swift actions, give the paladin the ability to cast a spell as a Swift action once per day at level 10, two times per day at level 20. If no Swift actions will be implemented, instead allow them to cast as a free action once per day on level 10 and once per day on level 20, but a maximum of once per round.

- Give the paladin access to Divine Power as a 3rd level spell and Righteous Might as a 4th level spell, and remove access to Harm.


PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:52 pm
by Grunker

The psionicist is fine. No comments :)