That's a nice classification, but I doubt it would fulfill the original purpose. If I get you right, your problem is DMs saying Class X beats Class Y or class Z is overpowered when this simply isn't true. Well, those DMs will take a look at your chart and say "Nah. Disbelieve." Even more so if they got the hint from a player from said "overpowered" class. Remove Blindness does not exist IRL, unfortunately.
Hey, I can hope. It's also handy if a player is saying "my class is underpowered, you need to fix it!" A DM can look here and see how true that is.
Now I'd like to bicker around a bit (that's my favorite part) and tell you the changes I would make to your list. Only listing the changes; if something isn't listed, then I agree with you.
In advance, thank you for your input. I'm certainly listening, even if I disagree.
- Erudite: Remove the Psion's limited power selection, you've got the Erudite, and another Tier 1, easily rivaling with Wizards.
Can't confirm or deny, as I'm unfamiliar with psionics, but the thing about the Big 5 Tier 1 classes is that they all gain new powers with every book that's released (since virtually all of them give them new spells). That's not true of the Erudite, unless they have some ability to cast arcane spells (which I won't discount without seeing the class!).
- Swordsage. The class is the definition of flexibility and one of the best melee classes around, plus it gets exclusive access to Seeting Sun and Shadow Hand and their array of out-of-combat abilities. It's an awesome dip as well, and opens the way to Master of Nine and its Dual Stance class feature. For all those reasons, it would deserve Tier 2.
Tier 2 has world shattering game breaking power. Swordsages are a great class, but they can't create new planes of existance made entirely out of valuable materials with flowing time 10,000 combined with the timeless trait to let them retreat and rest whenever they want (Genesis) or gain endless wealth easily (Fabricate + Wall of Iron, or purchased cows + Flesh to Salt) or any of those other truly game breaking stunts that a Sorcerer can pull off. So no, they're not Tier 2. A strong class? Certainly. But not game breaking. Swordsages have great power, but they can't nuke a country sized area with a first level spell like a well built Sorcerer can.
- Crusader: Same as above. THE best melee class around. A tank that can heal itself is crazy enough, a tank with a reach weapon, Thicket of Blades and a 3-level dip in Knight is absolutely awesome.
Another strong class, but again nothing game breaking. They're the best tanks around (at least as long as the Tier 1 boys aren't deciding to be jerks about it) but they can't shatter the world, so not Tier 2. Remember, Tier 2 means they have the raw power of the Tier 1 classes, but don't have the flexibility to always apply that power efficiently.
- Beguiler: It's basically a sorcerer on steroids. Same spells per day as the sorcerer, but Int-based, which is infinitely more useful (even more so with 6 skill points), knowns automatically all spells from his level (and gets new spells from new sourcebooks), and has interesting class abilities, which the sorcerer doesn't.
But the bit one is that the Sorcerer has the serious gamebreaker spells like Genesis and PAO and Alter Self and Shrink Item and Explosive Runes. Beguilers have nothing like that. Again, Beguilers aren't game breakingly powerful. I love them as a class, but they're not up this high.
- Favored Soul. MAD, divine spells (less flexible that arcane spells), and not that useful class abilities. Interesting abilities come too late to be really worth it and prevent you from multiclassing or going PrC. No Turn undead either.
Turn undead is easily obtained (Sacred Exorcist dip). And while they're not Cleric level, they can still cast Miracle and Gate and Animate Dead and who knows what else. These guys really can be game breakers with the right spell selection. That's why they're Tier 2.
- Sorcerer: Sure, 9th level casting. No skills, no class abilities, no durability, very limited spell selection, CHA-based (the worst attribute there is). Due to the limited spell selection, you have to choose a way, meaning they are made to be either one-trick ponies or blunt swiss army knives with half the tools missing. Not worth a Tier 2 IMO.
I've listed a few possible game breakers already, but here's a few more, all available to Sorcerers:
Unstoppable Assassin: Decide what enemy is annoying you. Maybe it's an Elder Dragon. Maybe it's some Balor. Maybe it's the king. Whatever. Cast Mindrape on a commoner and make them think they love said target. Now cast Love's Pain over and over until the target is dead. The target has no save, no SR, doesn't know where it's coming from, and there's no range limitation. Target dies. Required Spells Known: Mindrape, Love's Pain (you might be able to get away with a lower level spell than Mindrape, ask your DM). Of course, you can use scrolls if they're available.
Neigh Invincibility: First, get a decent sized chunk of Obdurium (from Stronghold Builder's Guide, enough obdurium should be about 4kgp). Now, cast Fabricate and shape it however you want to look (I suggest a four armed version of yourself). Now cast Invisibility on the nifty statue you just made, followed by Permanency (scrolls work if you lack the spells). Now cast Hardness (if you can get any temporary boosts to your caster level, use them now) and follow it up with Augment Object. Next, cast a spell that makes you count as undead (there are two in the Spell Compendium) and then follow it with Haunt Shift. Note you must have 8HD or less for Haunt Shift to work, so pick up some Holy/Unholy arrows if necessary to lower your HD and use a scroll. Congratulations, as per the wording of Hauntings (read the rules carefully, it's confusing), your statue is now your body which you can control just fine. Walk around in it, get used to the near immortality, because with your hardness HP damage can't touch you. If you had a caster level of 12 when you cast the Hardness, your body's hardness is now 72... read over the rules for damaging objects and note how many things you either ignore or heavily reduce damage from. Also, you're permanently invisible. Whee! Watch out for Martial Adepts with stone dragon manuevers though!
You get the idea. Now, as a Sorcerer you have to dedicate a lot of resources to pull off game breakers like this, whereas as a Wizard it's easy, but that's why Sorcerers are a Tier below Wizards. But ability to, by RAW, pull off nonsense like that is a big reason why Sorcerers are a Tier above Swordsages and the like. Swordsages are a great class, but they don't turn into golems or create new planes of existance or assassinate people from across planar boundries with no save.
- Psychic Warrior: the PW's powers are extremely good and make up for the slightly lower BAB. Being Wisdom-based, PW's generally have a good Will save (the frontliner's usual weakness) and profitate from a lot of dips such as Swordsage. With Zen archery they make very good archers as well.
I'm just not sure they belong up there with the martial adepts, and I firmly believe martial adepts are Tier 3, which is why I've got the PW down on Tier 4.
- Paladin (I think you forgot this one): Battle Blessing make them viable again up to level 20, Mount feats are great, and they've got a very cute spell selection and high viability with their high HP and saves. Plus they can access Fist of Raziel.
I didn't forget it, I'm just less familiar with them. But I've got one in our party, and I'm not seeing them as being on the level of Dread Necromancers and the like.
- Knight: The mother of tanks before ToB came out, and still a very viable class afterwards. Good Will save and D12 for high viability, armor mastery, Bulwark of Defense, Impetuous Endurance, and the ability to force foes into melee. Plain good.
See my comments on Paladins (though I don't have one in the party). Knights rarely do things like summon armies of the dead.
- Dragonfire Adept (didn't see that one either): this class needs only one attribute, Constitution. It's not a great damage dealer, but it's an excellent Swiss army knife class with high durability and battlefield control. Kinda like a much better warlock.
- Dragon Shaman (you forgot this one too): Nice mechanics, but generally too weak to do something by itself. A fluff marshall, more or less.
Don't know the class, that's why it's not there. But your comments are taken under advisement. If enough people agree on their position, I'll put them in in itallics.
- Fighter: Why are they so frowned upon? They get a huge load of feats for tactical flexibility, and if they can't compete with a barbarian for damage output, at least they've got more options than "Pounce, Power attack, Shock trooper" (*yawns*). Weapon Mastery is too good to forget and makes up for Rage, Weapon Supremacy is the answer to Swallow Whole. Clearly, no competition for a Tier 1 or 2, but definitely not as bad as they're pictured.
They're down in 4 because while the class as a whole is flexible, any given build is not. Most likely strong Fighter builds won't have much more than Pounce Power Attack Shock Trooper really... it's just some might have Improved Trip Karmic Strike or something instead. Their lower damage means they don't compete with Barbarians as well as one might hope. Barbarians are on the low end of Tier 4, and Fighters are on the high end of Tier 5, so it's a close one, but I just don't see Fighters doing well compared to a lot of the other Tier 4s (such as the Rogue with his diplomacy and UMD)
[qutoe]- Wu Jen/Shugenja: everything they do, regular Sorcerers do better. Period. They only deserve Tier 4 because of 9th level casting, otherwise they would be Tier 5, because they just suck.[/quote]
T4 seems low for a 9th level caster that can select their spells, but I'm not too familiar with them, so maybe they're like Healers in that respect.
- Wilder: Everything they do, other classes do better. Sure, they get 9th level powers... with the game's most limited power selection. Wild Surge is a trap, and they're CHA-based. In a nutshell, poor manifesters, ridiculous combatants, poor skills, sucky class abilities. They're only worth the 2-level dip for Elude Touch.
I'll consider it, but again, don't know the class.
Finally, if you consider only the base class, sure, Soulknife's a Tier 5. But if you consider Prestige Classes, have a look at Soulbow. Even a 1-level dip is worth it, because of the "WIS to damage" part. Pump up Wis, take Zen Archery, unleash hell. Plus you'll have a handsome Will save, and with a 2-level dip into Swordsage, an awesome AC. Illumine Soul is a good PrC as well, with easy requirements, and the level 4 ability is a lifesaver. Plus it boosts your low Fort save. With those classes in play, SK becomes Tier 4.
Yeah, but as far as I can see it's the Soulbow that's powerful, not the Soulknife. That's why the Soulknife that's down near the botoom. I mean, let's face it, the Monk is a great start for a lot of builds too but as an overall class it's not going to be above Tier 5.
Still unsere about the Divine Mind (5?), Ardent (3? 4?), Lurk (4?), Spirit Shaman (3? 4?).
Me either, not enough experience at all.
Swift Hunter builds (Scout/Rangers with Swift hunter feat) deserve Tier 3 or maybe even 2, but we're not talking multiclassing,
Not featured here.
My 2 cents...
Thank you, they're appreciated.