mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli
mordicai

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the biggest problem with dungeons & dragons third edition's classes was an issue of balance...balance of interest as well as balance of power, & they never quite got the hang of fixing it, i don't think. a big offender of this is the class balanced by spell list. a cleric gets more & more powerful as new books come out, because every single published cleric spell magically pops into their repertoire. compare this with the monk, or even the rogue, every one of which are alike, with only minor variation. now, you can point to skills as a mechanic for diversifying the rogue & others, but that doesn't quite hold up; some skills have almost as narrow a definition as a spell, which others overlap for no reason that i can tell (hide & move silently?). & heck, half the spells totally render skills perfunctory & useless; wand of knock beats splitting a share of the loot with some burglar!

what classes do i think are well designed? the wizard & the fighter. skeletons with options, really. the fighter says "pick some feats, baby! kill kill kill!" & the wizard says "pick some spells, & some feats for flavor!" & while sure, the pool of spells theoretically available to a wizard grows with each book, it is a range of options. they don't magically pop into his spell book the more cash he throws at books. two fighters are as different as can be; one can be all disarming, another can be involved in weilding a big huge sword, whatever. each book, again, provides new feats which are options, rather than a ramp up on the curve.

as wizards published more classes in the supplemental books, they sort of faltered away from "basics," i think. the psionic classes have the psion & the psychic warrior, both of whom i think are very well designed (though psionic powers have some flaws- notably enhancing spells & focuses) with the whole "options" thing in mind-- again, feats & spells, right? those are to be admired! but then, for instance, the complete... classes tend to be ultra-specialized, falling into the same trap that the rogue did. samurai, for instance, is such a fucking mess, while the oriental adventures samurai is so, so great. up the saves, limit the feats, give 'em magic swords? elegant & again, adaptable. rich with options. i also really like the scout, but it really doesn't have a lot of room for diversity.

all this kind of comes out of the discussion on the warlock's place in fourth edition. it sounds like the class is going to be present, which is good news: the warlock, by having infinite "blaster" potential, frees up you as a player to pursue more esoteric options. it really is a fun class to play, though i tend not to like spells-as-lasers (the quick fix i find satisfying is to anchor the eldritch blast to a weapon with the blast shape invocation). more importantly, wizards dropped hints about "shadowy, infernal, or feral patrons," which, ignoring the statement itself, strongly hints that there will be three "advancement trees" available to them. i've long argued for the skills/spells/feats trifecta, but i'm willing to compromise to skills/spells/feats/edges. that works publishing new material for the classes, rather than against them. so yeah, i'm in. i'll take a swing. i mean, of course i will, but i'm starting to look forward to it. i don't even mind the hints about dropping the sorcerer from the base classes, so much, since the warlock can step up to fill its place. i sure hope the new warlock uses the spell superstructure in some way, though. plus! tieflings in the player's handbook! now that's what i'm talking about.
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