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Author Topic: Why Tier 4s are in Tier 4.  (Read 29086 times)
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Gr1lledcheese
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« on: June 30, 2009, 11:16:56 AM »

It was brought up that there's no set explanation for why low tier classes are generally less effective. With that in mind, I figured I'd start one. I'll be doing one for each tiers, but I want to get the low tiers out of the way first, because most people know why classes like Wizards and Druids are above average. I'm looking for your input on the classes, and to make this a guide for people new to CO. Thanks to all who contribute in advance.

From JaronK's Tier System For Classes guide, the widely accepted Char Op base power description thread:

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 unless that encounter plays directly to the class's main strength. 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 Variant)

Why Tier 4's are Tier 4:

Rogue:
Cons: Sneak Attack fails against huge or larger creatures because you have to reach their vitals. Also Sneak Attack fails if the target has any kind of concealment, which is sold in items easily enough. Without special feats of skill tricks the Rogue has to party up with what will probably be an already high damager in order to flank and thus use their Sneak Attack ability. Finally another failure in Sneak Attack comes from the fact that the rogue isn't really meant to be in the middle of combat and using Sneak Attack with ranged attacks requires a lot of effort.

Rogues primary shine outside of combat, such as interacting with NPCs, scouting, digging for loot, you know, those mundane things people just talk about at the gaming table. Most of the roles the Rogue preforms anyone could find a way to do if needed. Such as the entire trap finding role is rendered obsolete but a single reserve feat that any spellcaster can take or are simply based on skill bonuses which can be brought and paid for with magical items.

The fact is a Rogue is your 4th party member, an Indian tossed in to avoid having to many chiefs. He fits in filling the lesser roles of a party's teamwork that everyone else is too busy to bother with. _SorO_Lost
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The real reason that rogue is tier four is that factotum is just plain better.  As a skill monkey, a factotum has no cross class skills and most likely has more skill points as well given its emphasis on INT.  A straight rogue is also pretty MAD, or must use precious feats to make himself more SAD.  Not so with a factotum, INT all the way and anything else is a bonus (brains over brawn is a prefect example). A party with a rogue and factotum would make it very hard for the rogue to feel useful. -Samb
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Beguiler also steals virtually all the Rogue's thunder, while getting full 20 level spellcasting at Tier 3. Beguiler really gets as many skills as a rogue does, because Int is its casting stat.

A rogue that really wants to be versatile can actually have MAD problems. Dex and Int need to be high, Con for survivability, Wisdom for will saves and skills and Cha if you want to be social or UMD, and Strength for melee combat -Braithwaite

Pros: The rogue is a solid class, part of the must have four for a team. It's the second best skill monkey class out there with it's 8 points per level and easy ability room to pick up a good score in int.

Trapfinding, Trap Sense, high Reflex, (Improved) Evasion, Search and Spot lead the rogue to be the goto trap finder. It's always better to toss a d20 then to walk into a trap and kill the party. Where as Hide & Move Silently come in adding the role of scout to the rogue. Access to Diplomacy, Apprise, and Sleight of Hand coupled with their stealth they can pretty much steal and sell anything that isn't nailed down and on fire. And finally Sneak Attack is their signature class ability. They can load up with SA bonuses and TWF dealing massive amounts of damage that would hit Final Fantasy's damage cap.

Thanks to Drow of The Underdark, a rogue can both sicken and shaken a foe at the same time making them a valuable ally to a save or die spell caster. Theres also a dozen other debuff Ambush feats that increase their usefulness of SA outside of sheer damage and Crippling Strike & Wounding Weapons also means your not just going after an HP total. -SorO_Lost
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By itself it is solid class that is able to handle anything with use of skill, the right equipment and judicious use of Use Magic Device/Use Psionic Device. Use a dorje of expansion to make yourself big against huge-large foes, or just grease them with a wand. Constructs and undead are easily bypassed with a true death/ demolition augment crystal, so to say that sneak attack is a con is not accurate. UMD/UPD can usually allow a rogue (or any class with UMD/UPD as a class skill) to fill many roles in combat although not really equaling the dedicated classes. -Samb

Barbarian:
Cons: Many of its features are fairly lackluster, though with enough splatbooks, I expect you should be able to find something worthwhile to swap them out for. Rage doesn't really scale quickly enough to sustain my interest in it (you wait for 10 lvs to get a marginal improvement in it, then wait for another 9 lvs for the next bump). Is it any wonder why most deem barbarian a 1-2 lv dip? The opportunity cost of going straight barb is simply too high. You just don't get anything interesting past lv2 to justify staying in it.

As with other melee classes, your higher lv options are still pretty much limited to 5-ft+full attack and move+attack, though the barbarian gets an extra boost with pounce (assuming your DM allows complete champion). But many limitations plaguing melee classes in general tend to affect the barb as well.

Your limited feat slots invariably get locked into extra rage (1st lv) and power attack. If you have PHB2, anywhere from 2-5 more feats may get set aside for steadfast determination (and perhaps indomitable will, if you are really paranoid), plus mad foam rager as a poor man's iron heart surge. Or you could go leap attack/shock-trooper, or 3 mountains, or bounding assault feat tree or whatever combo catches your fancy (but you can likely afford only 1). So you are for most part a 1-trick pony (though arguably an extremely effective one), spamming the same 1 attack routine each round. -Runestar

Pros: Fairly easy to build, and unlike the fighter, is very hard to screw up, since rage is a class feature (you will always have it to fall back on regardless of how subpar your other build decisions such as feat/stat choices may be). So the learning curve is quite low. Good for beginning players who are not interested/lack the expertise to wade through hundreds (or is it thousands?) of feats to find out which synergize well with the others and which are stinkers not worth the paper they are printed on.

Fairly SAD as well, simply put 14-16 in con, the rest in str, and pump them every chance you get (but with more emphasis on str over con). With steadfast determination, wis is a dump stat now, you don't actually get that many useful skills to warrant boosting int past 10, and the benefits of dex seem fairly minimal (base10+6 from gloves meets the cap from mithral fullplate just nicely).

Just wield the best 2-handed weapon you can find, rage in the 1st round of combat, move and swing. The bonuses from rage are actually fairly substantial at lower lvs, and unlike conventional melee classes, the barb actually stands a chance against attacks which target his will save (vital in 3e since those are invariably save-or-die/tantamount to dying). -Runestar
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Just like fighters, they can intimidate (from the barb handbook):

Imperious Command + Instantaneous Rage + Intimidating rage (optional + Skill Trick never outnumbered) : This combo I cannot say enough about. It's the barbarian equivalent to a mage with celerity. You basically can cut off someones action and shut them down for a round making them drop what they were doing and well (die to your charge) add never outnumbered and charge the opposing force, leap attack into the midst of them then rage while mid-air. Potentially cowering their whole team. -Cru 

Warlock:
Note about Warlocks: Warlocks can get very good when Prestige Classes are added, and the fact that they can eventually (like, level 17) give creatures negative levels, in an area, with damage, make them great for killing low-level mooks. In theory, warlocks have access to many sorcerer/wizard spells, like baleful polymorph, see invisibility, wall of flame, evards black tentacles, summon swarm, and so on. However, at 20th level, they only get 12 invocations out of their large list, and usually, 2 of those are Utterdark Blast (for negative levels) and Eldritch Doom (for the AoE). Maybe add in Eldritch Spear for long range...

They are good 5th party members, assuming you have the 4 basic roles filled. They also get a bunch of class abilities relating to UMD, the best skill ever. And Cha synergy! -Generic_PC

Cons: Their best invocations are equivalent to sixth level spells.  Spells double in power every two levels or so.  A warlock, therefore, is shooting bullets that are far less effective than the wizard's.  Staying power really doesn't matter at higher levels because at that point each attack is essentially save or die - would you rather like a bucket of rocks or one rocket launcher?

Time stop renders the warlock completely irrelevant for combat - the wizard already summoned a bunch of monsters in one turn, and is now shapechanged into a monster with better abilities and attacks than the lower tiers. -The_Mad_Linguist
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Make a warlock, an archer and a specialist wizard at the same level. Pick 4 (or eight) different monsters of that ECL. Have the monsters stand there while the ranged damage guys hurt them. See how many rounds it takes each class to kill the monsters. If you pick 8 monsters, let the wizard rememorise spells after 4 (usually 4 encounters per day).

Warlock will probably be last for most levels between about 6 and 20.

So a warlock is a (stand at range and put hurt on the target guy). The 2 most common classes at that role are both better at it than him. Argument over.

If an arguement starts about how many more things the warlock can do than the archer, calculate the cost to duplicate the warlocks abilities. Ring of Invisibility-20 k, Flying carpet... eyes of charming ... Now ask them how much it will cost them to raise the warlocks damage to an amount equal to the archer. They cant. Priceless... -Braithwaite
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9d6 damage at level 20 with a standard action is just pathetic, especially if it's subject to spell resistance. Even 1d6 damage at level 1 isn't that good.

One limiting factor for invocations is that a warlock is only going to know 12 of them at the most through out his whole career, unless he wants to burn feats on extra invocation. Knowing only a handful of tricks gives you no flexibility when it comes to dealing with situations. -Ninjarabbit
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After about level 6, your damage just drops off until it takes 15 or so hits to kill something, even though you are rolling 9 dice each hit. Meanwhile that Barbarian is doing x4 damage, and getting x6 on power attack, rolling 2 dice and getting 100 damage. But ultimately, you lack the damage to be a focused ranged attacker, and the versatility to make up for that, so you don't get to be a high tier. -Generic_PC

Pros: The damage portion of the class has been fixed since the Fiendish Codex II came out. Unless you are a Theurgic build there is no reason not to take Hellfire Warlock, which gives +6d6 damage to your EB and allows you to fire it as an immediate action when someone hits you. With a Greater Chasuble of Fell Power adding a further +2d6 your looking at a 17d6 ray, or about 59 damage. This of course can be done as part of a cone shaped blast to several foes and it also bestows two negative levels on a failed save. And if someone were to attack you then you could further add another 17d6 damage to the list. The Eldritch Glaive shape and Empower/Maximize Spell-Like Ability feats shoves those numbers into the range of an uber charger only better. It requires less feats (just maximize really), only an item or two (grab a rod for +5d6 damage), can be implanted into any non-theurgic build with very little effort (one least invocation slot) and has an almost guaranteed chance to hit even on the last attack where most pounce builds tend to miss. -SorO_Lost
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Warlocks are flavourful characters. They seem great at first glance, with unlimited SLAs and a ranged touch attack which adds d6 every 2 levels (or something). At early levels, they are great characters too. +6 to Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate is probably going to raise your check to higher than +10 at first level. Charisma based DCs help with social skills even more, and the invocations are great. But... Only at early levels. 2d6 every round isn't bad at level 3, where that Barbarian is still doing 2d6+1.5Str, but it won't last. At least you still have Invisibility, Flight, Negative Levels (In an area, +9d6 damage), whenever you want. -Generic_PC

Warmage:
Cons: Damage spells are generally the weakest type of combat spells and that's the majority of the warmage's spell list, a tool box only needs so many different types of hammers. And like fighter, warmages have almost no class abilities that do anything outside of combat. Warmage edge is almost completely useless outside of the first couple of levels.

Pros: Warmages however do have a few save-or-die and battlefield control spells on their spell list like some various cloud spells, sleet storm, Evard's black tentacles, wail of the banshee, and prismatic wall. Warmages can also cast in armor and with light shields, partially making up for their lack of defensive spells. The warmage also have a mechanical advantage of automanically being able to cast any spell on his spell list, useful for things like the Arcane Disciple feat. Warmages do get a few sudden metamagic feats, which is better than nothing I guess.

Warmages are good for beginner players or someone who doesn't want to take the time to mess around with a spell list, like a DM making a character on the fly. -Ninjarabbit

Scout:
A note on the Scout: The class works very well when multiclassed with ranger, due to the swift hunter feat, which makes ranger and scout levels stack for determining skirmish and favored enemies. Also it allows skirmish damage to be done to the favored enemies regardless of immunity,  which reduces the weaknesses of the class. There is also a great deal of synergy between the two classes. -Havok4

Cons: A very large number of creatures are immune to skirmish which limits its viability. It also takes a significant investment to full attack and activate skirmish and that is usually necessary to do a large amount of damage. Most of the class abilities are done by spells much earlier then the scout gets them. An example is true seeing as it is actually better in some ways then the scout's capstone ability and clerics have been using that spell since level 9. Another big issue is that lack of use magic device on the scout's skill list which limits the options of the class and often keeps it from being viable at higher levels. To be effective as a class you usually need to focus on a specific combat style and this limits your options. The biggest issue with the scout is that their primary purpose, Scouting, can be done from the safety of home with the right divination magic, making their whole purpose somewhat redundant. -Havok4

Pros: The main source of damage for this class is skirmish which can be easier to consistently activate than sneak attack. Also you get defensive buffs as part of skirmish as well. The entire class is based around movement and it gets many ability such as fast movement and eventually continuous freedom of movement. The class makes for a good trap finder and has 8+int skill points per level and a good skill list. You also get very nice stealth bonuses such as hide in plain sight and camouflage, which are identical to the ranger features but come much earlier. The bonus feats help keep the class versatile and also for greater flexibility when building the character. Also it is tougher then the closest equivalent class, the rogue, due to battle fortitude and a d8 hit die. And the capstone ability of the class is blind sight which is very nice. Also all abilities are extraordinary which makes them very hard to shut down. All in all they fit a very similar role to that of a rogue in the party. -Havok4

Ranger:
The ranger might be the most average class in D&D. It doesn't suck but it doesn't really do anything too well. I'd generally avoid the two weapon fighting combat style and stick to the archery combat style to be an effective ranger. -Ninjarabbit

Cons: Rangers are limited to light armor and only have a d8 hit dice, a problem to those who went the two weapon fighting route. Rangers by themselves don't have a high damage output, especially when fighting against non-favored enemies. Rangers suffer from MAD: needing a decent dex, con, wis, int, and str to be effective. The ranger's animal companion is way too weak to even consider using in combat. Rangers are half-casters so their spells won't be too reliable in combat without a few tricks. -Ninjarabbit

Pros: Rangers get 5 bonus feats total and they don't have to meet any prequisites for their combat feats. 6 skill points/level and a pretty good set of class skills are a very nice thing. Rangers have enough class variants across many splatbooks to keep things interesting. Rangers multiclass well with scouts, paladins, and monks thanks to the class-combo feats. Rangers do have a solid spell list, especially if you have access to certain splatbooks. -Ninjarabbit

Hexblade:
Overall the hexblade fills the niche of a debuffing warrior decently and would make a good bodyguard/cohort/tank for a spellcaster who uses quite a few save-or-x spells. It does take a moderate level of optimization skill and quite a few splatbooks to make a hexblade work since there isn't much of a margin of error in most hexblade
builds. -Ninjarabbit

Cons: The hexblade's signature abilty, the curse, is pretty weaksauce by itself and you can only use it a few timesper day. Hexblades can only cast a handful of spells per day and it's a half-caster, meaning you'll have to blow a feat on practiced spellcaster. Speaking of feats most hexblade builds are tight on feats and skill points. The bonus feats a hexblade gets are almost worthless. Hexblades are limited to light armor, not good for a class expected to be on the frontlines. -Ninjarabbit

Pros: The hexblade's spell list has quite a few gems on it like charm person, alter self, glitterdust, invisibility, slow, hound of doom, and polymorph (which qualifies the hexblade for the Minor Shapeshift reserve feat). The hexblade gets better action economy than most melee-types since many of it's abilites are free and swift actions. And since the hexblade has d10 hit dice and full BAB that means it's familiar is pretty durable, making improved familiar a viable feat choice. Arcane resistance is almost as good as divine grace and dark blessing  and stacks with those so it's something to consider when multiclassing.

The hexblade is one of the few classes that gets mettle. Hexblades have a pretty good set of class skills, including all the social skills, ride (good for an improved familiar), and the main arcane spellcasting skills. The dark companion variant is an easy and free way to start debuffing a foe. Many of the debuffing feats and abilities like dreadful wrath and frightful presence are cha-based so it synergizes well with the hexblade.
-Ninjarabbit
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The level 4 Hexblade ACF is worth mentioning.  Dark Companion is AWESOME and makes Hexblade 4 a great combination with Paladin of Tyranny 3 or Binder.  -4 (or even -6) to all saves around you is incredibly potent, especially combined with charisma to saves multiple times.  Consider something like Factotum 1/Hexblade 4/Paladin of Tyranny 4/Ur Priest 1/Bone Knight 10, for example (Factotum's there mostly to get the skill points needed for the PrCs). -JaronK


Adept:

Cons: The poor class features and limited number of spells a day holds it back. It also has a terrible spell progression. It does not get 5th level spells until level 16.

Pros: The reason for the adepts placement is that it actually has a fairly good spell list. Look at it here.
Adepts choose their spells from the following list.
0 Level

create water, cure minor wounds, detect magic, ghost sound, guidance, light, mending, purify food and drink, read magic, touch of fatigue.
1st Level

bless, burning hands, cause fear, command, comprehend languages, cure light wounds, detect chaos, detect evil, detect good, detect law, endure elements, obscuring mist, protection from chaos, protection from evil, protection from good, protection from law, sleep.
2nd Level

aid, animal trance, bear’s endurance, bull’s strength, cat’s grace, cure moderate wounds, darkness, delay poison, invisibility, mirror image, resist energy, scorching ray, see invisibility, web.
3rd Level

animate dead, bestow curse, contagion, continual flame, cure serious wounds, daylight, deeper darkness, lightning bolt, neutralize poison, remove curse, remove disease, tongues.
4th Level

cure critical wounds, minor creation, polymorph, restoration, stoneskin, wall of fire.
5th Level

baleful polymorph, break enchantment, commune, heal, major creation, raise dead, true seeing, wall of stone.
All of which can be used to great effect on a battle field. It knows every spell on that list ansd they are all useful. Some of these spells are very useful for classes that can draw from other class lists such as the chameleon or the archivist. -Havok4

Spellthief:
Spellthief: A skillmonkey with minor magical ability that can steal his foe's (or friend's) abilities. Like the hexblade, the spellthief is a low level tier 4 who's main saving grace is being able to cast alter self and polymorph. -Ninjarabbit

Cons: He only gets 5d6 sneak attack damage. The spellthief is only a half caster and probably will burn a feat on practiced spellcaster. He has MAD, needing int, cha, dex, con, and maybe even str due to limited combat options. All of his Steal X abilities require being able to sneak attack his foe, much easier said than done. The spellthief will have fewer skill points than a rogue, beguiler, and factotum doe to only getting 6 skill points/level and int not being a priority stat. -Ninjarabbit
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Remember with Master Spellthief that you still need at least 9 spellthief levels to actually store 9th level spells after you steal them.  With that said, Master Spellthief does help a lot, as builds like Spellthief 9/Mindbender 1/Shadowcraft Mage 5/Earth Dreamer 5 become viable.  But without such powerful PrCs, the Spellthief can't make good use of the spell stealing ability.  They're basically a weak Rogue that has to get the drop on Wizards and the like to be useful.  If you can pull this off, it's awesome, but without that you're rather poor.  Stealing spells from party mates usually just means you're burning through more slots than necessary for your party, but if you weren't doing that many encounters anyway it basically is like quickening other people's spells for free (since you're not wasting the action of the Wizard when you cast his spell). -JaronK
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Spell Thieves suffer from some trope I don't know the name of. Yet. We all want it to be great and try to find reasons to play it or to convince others to try it out, but it sucks. SA is too low to be useful, the rogue packs twice as much and better skills and none of us are saying the rogue should be in the center of combat.

Spell thieves lack knowledge divine/nature/planes/dungeoneering which means no spell thief knows what monster can cast what until the 13th level. Also, not everything casts spells, or is wholly dependent on casting spells to kill stuff when it comes to monsters. Stealing spells from the party is outright stupid. Who would beg the wizard in the party to give up his spell slots so you can cast something? Here's an idea, play a wizard and double the spells your entire party can cast instead. Let's just avoid the whole 'but warlocks can use the SLAs all day' thing, it's not like playing a spell thief is any better than playing a warlock.

SR lowering abilities come in feat form and don't require 15 levels in a poor class to get it. Stealing energy resistance might be useful, but if you have a blaster in the party they probably already have a way to ignore resistance. Like Wings of Flurry (does anything really have force resistance?), Maw of Chaos, Hellfire, etc. And if there isn't enough shame listed so far, just look at PrCs. Nothing the spell thief has scales with PrCs, you want to continue your spell stealing progression you'll have to forgo the more powerful option of PrCing out unless you take a PrC such as Sublime Chord or Ur Priest. But keep in mind it's not the spell thief that makes the build work, it's the PrC.

If you want the flavor of spell stealing pick up the Fiendish Codex II and read the Hellbreaker class. It grants HiPS, steal spells up to the 4th level, with clever use of TWF it can block ever single SLA a creature has within a round or two, and it can steal supernatural abilities. All within 8 levels.

Steal-Spell Effect works great against the wizard BBEG. The spell theif can give up damage to end the BBEG's spell's one by one. Except the effects come back in a few rounds, and dispel can end them all at once making it a far better choice. Hmm you know what, I can't think of a single pro for a spell thief... -SorO_Lost


Pros: The spellthief has a good spell list, being able to cast any sorcerer/wizard spell from the following schools: abjuration, divination, enchantment, illusion, and transmutation, which inclues polymorph. Can take a wide range of reserve feats, which go a long way in giving the spellthief more staying power. Spell grace does give the spellthief slightly better saving throws. He can cast spells in light armor. The spellthief has the potential to steal high level spells and SLAs. Absorb spell is potentially useful (but it requires being targeted by a foe's spell to begin with). -Ninjarabbit
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Also Master Spellthief + wizard or sorceror dip = much better. That one feat gives them a full caster level (for both classes, I think), and they lose almost nothing. -Woodenbandman
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Of course, the Spellthief does have a few fun advantages.  Being able to steal once a day spell like abilities and cast them without burning the ability can be very useful (how about a paladin's mount?).   Spellthieves combine quite nicely with Warlocks for similar reasons.  And of course with Obtain Familiar they can have a lot of fun.  Still, at the end of the day you're likely to end up feeling like a low budget version of a Factotum. -JaronK
 


Marshal:
Marshal 1 is a classic dip for Diplomancers (combined with Binder 1 for Naberius and Warlock 1 for their charming invocation).  Marshal is also incredible in low level army situations... a one or two Marshal 2s leading a group of Crusader 1s makes for a devastating low level unit. -JaronK

Cons: Outranked by Clerics (of course), but also by Bards (Basically auras with caster levels), Factotums (get int/level to certain skills per encounter), and most ToB classes (White Raven does it better). Has no way of swapping out useless auras. Very little support in outside books. Approximately 5 dead levels (including levels where only 1 aura is gained) (6, 10, 11, 13, and 18). Low number of Auras known if multiclassing. Auras are somewhat restricted (60', must hear/understand, int above 3 (problems occur with animals/mindless undead, etc.), and is canceled if she is dazed, unconscious, stunned, paralyzed, or otherwise unable to be heard or understood by his allies.) Circumstance bonuses on skills are common, and much higher than what you can probably give. -Chaos Josh

Pros: Mid Bab, d8 HD, 2 good saves, and the ability to use any Martial weapon, shield (but tower), and armor make it an adequate front line fighter (not the best, mind, but adequate). Auras are activated by a swift action (handy). Diplomacy on a Cha-based class, including free Skill focus (Diplomacy) and an aura adding Cha twice to those checks is nifty. Can grant move actions (which is very useful on a group of Melee classes). Free Skill Focus also means that Exemplar builds are plausible, especially depending on the Auras chosen. Intimidate is a class skill and it's a Cha-based class, although not as good as being able to do it swiftly. Circumstance bonuses on things other than skills are handy. -Chaos Josh


Fighter (Dungeoncrasher Variant):

A note on the Dungeon Crasher Variant Fighter: Note that the Dungeoncrasher Fighter is only in that position (Tier 4) for levels the Dungeoncrasher variant actually applies to (until level 6).  It drops back to Tier 5 after that.  It's just so darn useful with Knockback and whatnot, and the Fighter was already at the edge of Tier 4/5 anyway.  Zhentarium Fighter is absolutely Tier 4, mostly because the level 9 ability when combined with Imperious Command gives Fighters a whole other way to attack (target will saves instead of AC).  Intimidate is easy to raise, so eventually any opponent who isn't outright immune is going to be helpless. -JaronK

Cons:

Pros:
« Last Edit: July 06, 2009, 01:16:23 AM by Gr1lledcheese » Logged

The Optimizationale: by Solo.<br /><br />Arise, ye posters, from ye slumbers!<br />Arise, ye lurkers of the forum!<br />For reason in revolt now thunders<br />A better day shall come!<br />No more falsehood\'s chains shall bind us,<br />Eager masses, arise! Arise!<br />We’ll change henceforth the old consensus<br />And spurn it\'s dust to optimize...
Havok4
Man in Gorilla Suit
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Posts: 2144


It can only be attributable to human error.


« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2009, 01:57:51 PM »

The reason for the adepts placement is that it actually has a fairly good spell list. Look at it here.
Adepts choose their spells from the following list.
0 Level

create water, cure minor wounds, detect magic, ghost sound, guidance, light, mending, purify food and drink, read magic, touch of fatigue.
1st Level

bless, burning hands, cause fear, command, comprehend languages, cure light wounds, detect chaos, detect evil, detect good, detect law, endure elements, obscuring mist, protection from chaos, protection from evil, protection from good, protection from law, sleep.
2nd Level

aid, animal trance, bear’s endurance, bull’s strength, cat’s grace, cure moderate wounds, darkness, delay poison, invisibility, mirror image, resist energy, scorching ray, see invisibility, web.
3rd Level

animate dead, bestow curse, contagion, continual flame, cure serious wounds, daylight, deeper darkness, lightning bolt, neutralize poison, remove curse, remove disease, tongues.
4th Level

cure critical wounds, minor creation, polymorph, restoration, stoneskin, wall of fire.
5th Level

baleful polymorph, break enchantment, commune, heal, major creation, raise dead, true seeing, wall of stone.

All of which can be used to great effect on a battle field. The poor class features and limited number of spells a day holds it back. It also has a terrible spell progression. It does not get 5th level spells until level 16. But it knows every spell on that list ansd they are all useful. Some of these spells are very useful for classes that can draw from other class lists such as the chameleon or the archivist.
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PlzBreakMyCampaign
Hong Kong
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Posts: 1373


Immune to Critical Hits as a Fairness Elemental


« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2009, 02:57:43 PM »

I like this idea, but:

PLEASE include a level-by-level breakdown. What was done for swashbuckler (evaluate the class abilities and dead levels, etc) is perfect.
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Quote
An interesting read, nice to see a civil discussion
The point of Spell Resistance is to make it harder to get buffed.
And healed. Don't forget that.
Huge amounts of people are fuckwits. That doesn't mean that fuckwit is a valid lifestyle.

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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2009, 06:51:50 PM »

Note that the Dungeoncrasher Fighter is only in that position for levels the Dungeoncrasher variant actually applies to (until level 6).  It drops back to Tier 5 after that.  It's just so darn useful with Knockback and whatnot, and the Fighter was already at the edge of Tier 4/5 anyway.  Zhentarium Fighter is absolutely Tier 4, mostly because the level 9 ability when combined with Imperious Command gives Fighters a whole other way to attack (target will saves instead of AC).  Intimidate is easy to raise, so eventually any opponent who isn't outright immune is going to be helpless.

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« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2009, 08:14:54 PM »

Warmage: Damage spells are generally the weakest type of combat spells and that's the majority of the warmage's spell list, a tool box only needs so many different types of hammers. And like fighter, warmages have almost no class abilities that do anything outside of combat. Warmage edge is almost completely useless outside of the first couple of levels.

Warmages however do have a few save-or-die and battlefield control spells on their spell list like some various cloud spells, sleet storm, Evard's black tentacles, wail of the banshee, and prismatic wall. Warmages can also cast in armor and with light shields, partially making up for their lack of defensive spells. The warmage also have a mechanical advantage of automanically being able to cast any spell on his spell list, useful for things like the Arcane Disciple feat. Warmages do get a few sudden metamagic feats, which is better than nothing I guess.

Warmages are good for beginner players or someone who doesn't want to take the time to mess around with a spell list, like a DM making a character on the fly.
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« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2009, 09:56:43 PM »

Added: Dungeon Crasher Variant note from JaronK, the Warmage description by Ninjarabbit, the Adept description from Havok4, pros and cons sections to each class.

In response to PlzBreakMyCar: While I would love to see broken down descriptions like the ones in the monk and swashbuckler sections of the Tier 5 list, any and all descriptions are appretiated. Even a paragraph or two helps.

Again thanks to everyone for adding their input.  Smile
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« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2009, 11:17:59 PM »

Warlocks are flavourful characters. They seem great at first glance, with unlimited SLAs and a ranged touch attack which adds d6 every 2 levels (or something). At early levels, they are great characters too. +6 to Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate is probably going to raise your check to higher than +10 at first level. Charisma based DCs help with social skills even more, and the invocations are great. But... Only at early levels. 2d6 every round isn't bad at level 3, where that Barbarian is still doing 2d6+1.5Str, but it won't last. Your damage just drops off until it takes 15 or so hits to kill something, even though you are rolling 9 dice each hit. Meanwhile that Barbarian is doing x4 damage, and getting x6 on power attack, rolling 2 dice and getting 100 damage. At least you still have Invisibility, Flight, Negative Levels (In an area, +9d6 damage), whenever you want. But ultimately, you lack the damage to be a focused ranged attacker, and the versatility to make up for that, so you don't get to be a high tier.

NOTE: Warlocks can get very good when Prestige Classes are added, and the fact that they can eventually (like, level 17) give creatures negative levels, in an area, with damage, make them great for killing low-level mooks. In theory, warlocks have access to many sorcerer/wizard spells, like baleful polymorph, see invisibility, wall of flame, evards black tentacles, summon swarm, and so on. However, at 20th level, they only get 12 invocations out of their large list, and usually, 2 of those are Utterdark Blast (for negative levels) and Eldritch Doom (for the AoE). Maybe add in Eldritch Spear for long range...

They are good 5th party members, assuming you have the 4 basic roles filled. They also get a bunch of class abilities relating to UMD, the best skill ever. And Cha synergy!
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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2009, 12:02:44 AM »

You might want to punch up the warlock - shapechange quote somehow.  I was using the monk somewhat sarcastically, and it doesn't really work without context.  (Or, to be honest, in context either.)
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« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2009, 12:16:57 AM »

Pardon? I don't understand what you mean. As far as I can tell, Warlocks get nothing close to shapechange.
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« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2009, 12:35:19 AM »

Pardon? I don't understand what you mean. As far as I can tell, Warlocks get nothing close to shapechange.
I was mentioning what the wizard could do, and genericizing my snarky comment about being better than a monk to better than a "tier 5" makes it a little...  underwhelming.
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« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2009, 12:56:26 AM »

I wonder if the Warlock class will have the most comments on it in here, it is the best class listed in the tier 4s so I guess that is expected.

From the posts so far it seems the damage is the major compliant about warlocks which has been fixed since the Fiendish Codex II came out. Unless you are a Theurgic build there is no reason not to take Hellfire Warlock, which gives +6d6 damage to your EB and allows you to fire it as an immediate action when someone hits you. With a Greater Chasuble of Fell Power adding a further +2d6 your looking at a 17d6 ray, or about 59 damage. This of course can be done as part of a cone shaped blast to several foes and it also bestows two negative levels on a failed save. And if someone were to attack you then you could further add another 17d6 damage to the list. The Eldritch Glaive shape and Empower/Maximize Spell-Like Ability feats shoves those numbers into the range of an uber charger only better. It requires less feats (just maximize really), only an item or two (grab a rod for +5d6 damage), can be implanted into any non-theurgic build with very little effort (one least invocation slot) and has an almost guaranteed chance to hit even on the last attack where most pounce builds tend to miss.

But their lack of versatility does hurt them in the long run. Other higher tier classes can just plain do more. Even Black Tentacles has times when you has no use for it.

***

I'll take a hit at the rogue.

Pros
The rogue is a solid class, part of the must have four for a team. It's the second best skill monkey class out there with it's 8 points per level and easy ability room to pick up a good score in int.

Trapfinding, Trap Sense, high Reflex, (Improved) Evasion, Search and Spot lead the rogue to be the goto trap finder. It's always better to toss a d20 then to walk into a trap and kill the party. Where as Hide & Move Silently come in adding the role of scout to the rogue. Access to Diplomacy, Apprise, and Sleight of Hand coupled with their stealth they can pretty much steal and sell anything that isn't nailed down and on fire. And finally Sneak Attack is their signature class ability. They can load up with SA bonuses and TWF dealing massive amounts of damage that would hit Final Fantasy's damage cap.

Thanks to Drow of The Underdark, a rogue can both sicken and shaken a foe at the same time making them a valuable ally to a save or die spell caster. Theres also a dozen other debuff Ambush feats that increase their usefulness of SA outside of sheer damage and Crippling Strike & Wounding Weapons also means your not just going after an HP total.

Cons
SA fails against huge or larger creatures because you have to reach their vitals. Also SA fails if the target has any kind of concealment, which is sold in items easily enough. Without special feats of skill tricks the Rogue has to party up with what will probably be an already high damager in order to flank and thus use their SA ability. Finally another failure in SA comes from the fact that the rogue isn't really meant to be in the middle of combat and using SA with ranged attacks requires a lot of effort.

Rogues primary shine outside of combat, such as interacting with NPCs, scouting, digging for loot, you know, those mundane things people just talk about at the gaming table. Most of the roles the Rogue preforms anyone could find a way to do if needed. Such as the entire trap finding role is rendered obsolete but a single reserve feat that any spellcaster can take or are simply based on skill bonuses which can be brought and paid for with magical items.

The fact is a Rogue is your 4th party member, an Indian tossed in to avoid having to many chiefs. He fits in filling the lesser roles of a party's teamwork that everyone else is too busy to bother with.



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Tiers break down into who has spellcasting more than anything else due to spells being better than anything else in the game.
6: Skill based. Commoner, Expert, Samurai.
5: Mundane warrior. Barbarian, Fighter, Monk.
4: Partial casters. Adapt, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Spelltheif.
3: Focused casters. Bard, Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, Martial Adapts, Warmage.
2: Full casters. Favored Soul, Psion, Sorcerer, Wu Jen.
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« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2009, 01:07:17 AM »

I did add that Warlocks can get good when Prestige Classed. Note that the Hellfire Blast (and its +6d6) take a point of con damage to use, which hurts loads. Unless you HAPPEN to be binding Naberius or something...

Chausible and Rod of Fell Power are always worth it.
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« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2009, 01:37:54 AM »

I was never certain whether I should include obvious class specific PrCs (such as the Warlock's Hellfire Warlock, or the Barbarian's Frenzied Berserker) into the calculations for power.   The base class gives you the option of the PrC, so they're related, and yet it seems wrong to rank the Barbarian based on the idea that you might go into the FB.  In the end, I decided that at high optimization levels you likely would PrC out into such classes, so I factored it in a little when it was extremely obvious to do so.

I really like the idea of these threads... assuming they come out well, I'll have to link them in to the main post.

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Runestar
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« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2009, 08:37:57 AM »

Here is my take on the barbarian. Feel free to critique it as you deem fit. Do take note that I only have experience with it up to 7th lv though.

Pros: Fairly easy to build, and unlike the fighter, is very hard to screw up, since rage is a class feature (you will always have it to fall back on regardless of how subpar your other build decisions such as feat/stat choices may be). So the learning curve is quite low. Good for beginning players who are not interested/lack the expertise to wade through hundreds (or is it thousands?) of feats to find out which synergize well with the others and which are stinkers not worth the paper they are printed on.

Fairly SAD as well, simply put 14-16 in con, the rest in str, and pump them every chance you get (but with more emphasis on str over con). With steadfast determination, wis is a dump stat now, you don't actually get that many useful skills to warrant boosting int past 10, and the benefits of dex seem fairly minimal (base10+6 from gloves meets the cap from mithral fullplate just nicely).

Just wield the best 2-handed weapon you can find, rage in the 1st round of combat, move and swing. The bonuses from rage are actually fairly substantial at lower lvs, and unlike conventional melee classes, the barb actually stands a chance against attacks which target his will save (vital in 3e since those are invariably save-or-die/tantamount to dying).

Cons: Rest of its features are fairly lackluster, though with enough splatbooks, I expect you should be able to find something worthwhile to swap them out for. Rage doesn't really scale quickly enough to sustain my interest in it (you wait for 10 lvs to get a marginal improvement in it, then wait for another 9 lvs for the next bump). Is it any wonder why most deem barbarian a 1-2 lv dip? The opportunity cost of going straight barb is simply too high. You just don't get anything interesting past lv2 to justify staying in it.

As with other melee classes, your higher lv options are still pretty much limited to 5-ft+full attack and move+attack, though the barbarian gets an extra boost with pounce (assuming your DM allows complete champion). But many limitations plaguing melee classes in general tend to affect the barb as well.

Your limited feat slots invariably get locked into extra rage (1st lv) and power attack. If you have PHB2, anywhere from 2-5 more feats may get set aside for steadfast determination (and perhaps indomitable will, if you are really paranoid), plus mad foam rager as a poor man's iron heart surge. Or you could go leap attack/shock-trooper, or 3 mountains, or bounding assault feat tree or whatever combo catches your fancy (but you can likely afford only 1). So you are for most part a 1-trick pony (though arguably an extremely effective one), spamming the same 1 attack routine each round.

As always, don't hesitate to add in anything you feel I have left out. Been quite a while since I saw a barb in play.
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« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2009, 09:20:06 AM »

addendum to the barbarian: just like fighters, they can intimidate (from the barb handbook):

Imperious Command + Instantaneous Rage + Intimidating rage (optional + Skill Trick never outnumbered) : This combo I cannot say enough about. It's the barbarian equivalent to a mage with celerity. You basically can cut off someones action and shut them down for a round making them drop what they were doing and well (die to your charge) add never outnumbered and charge the opposing force, leap attack into the midst of them then rage while mid-air. Potentially cowering their whole team.
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« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2009, 11:27:01 AM »

Added: Runestar's description on the Barbarian, SorO_Lost's description of the rogue and fiendish codex II portion about the lock, Generic_PC's warlock description and note about prestige classing.

To The_Mad_Linguist: I modified your comment about the shapechanging wizard, if you'd like me to completely remove it, I will.

To Generic_PC: I had to chop up your post a bit, I hope that doesn't bother you too much.

Also, Bolded the Pros and Cons sections of the thread for ease of use.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2009, 11:34:06 AM by Gr1lledcheese » Logged

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Samb
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« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2009, 12:12:24 PM »

It tough to say why rogue is tier four.  By itself it is solid class that is able to handle anything with use of skill, the right equipment and judicious use of UMD/UPD.  Sneak attack is useful in all situations and to say that it fails in specific situations is not right when you consider this is min/max'ing.  Use a dorje of expansion to make yourself big against huge-large foes, or just grease them with a wand.  Constructs and undead are easily bypassed with a true death/ demolition augment crystal, so to say that sneak attack is a con is not accurate.

UMD/UPD can usually allow a rogue (or any class with UMD/UPD as a class skill) to fill many roles in combat although not really equaling the dedicated classes.  Hence it fits the tier four definition: does many things well but never really outshining anyone.

Another interesting point about the rogue is that the one thing it really does out shine any class is playing the expert.  This job excels at very specific goals such as breaking and entering, trap finding, escaping etc.  Many people (including the author of the tier system I suspect) might feel that skill heavy campaigns are DMs' attempts to pander to the rogues/skill monkeys.  Not something I really agree with but if you assume that then rogues also fullfill the: "DMs must create specific situations for them to feel useful" criterion (but only if you feel skill should not be part of D&D).

The real reason that rogue is tier four is that factotum is just plain better.  As a skill monkey, a factotum has no cross class skills and most likely has more skill points as well given its emphasis on INT.  A straight rogue is also pretty MAD, or must use precious feats to make himself more SAD.  Not so with a factotum, INT all the way and anything else is a bonus (brains over brawn is a prefect example).

Is it ok to compare a factotum to a rogue?  For the purposes of the class tier system I would say yes.  It was meant to be a guild for DM to adjust his campaign to make it fun for all involved.  A party with a rogue and factotum would make it very hard for the rogue to feel useful.
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« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2009, 01:49:54 PM »

Beguiler also steals virtually all the Rogue's thunder, while getting full 20 level spellcasting at Tier 3. Beguiler really gets as many skills as a rogue does, because Int is its casting stat.

A rogue that really wants to be versatile can actually have MAD problems. Dex and Int need to be high, Con for survivability, Wisdom for will saves and skills and Cha if you want to be social or UMD.
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Gr1lledcheese
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« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2009, 01:51:14 PM »

Added Samb's rogue description.

In the future Samb, would you mind clarifying your view a bit more? In the begining it sounds like you're saying rogues are the best at their job, and then towards the end you say that Factotums are just better. I was a little on the fence about what to add to the guide from your post. It made me do one of these guys  Confused Bang Head

Thanks  Big Grin
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« Reply #19 on: July 01, 2009, 02:03:44 PM »

Added Braithwaite's beguiler/rogue stuff.
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