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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon
vasaris
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March 2014
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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon [userpic]
*stares blankly at Tome of Magic*

Ooookay.

Is it just me, or shouldn't the fact that not only does every 9th-10th level example Truespeaker variant have an Amulet of the Silver Tongue (+5 to the Truespeak skill), they have to have it to be functional be an indication that there's something wrong with the base class? I initially dismissed truespeakers as an interesting but futile class. I was argued into agreeing that a low-level truespeaker wasn't as bad as I thought. I even made a gestalted Truespeaker-Wizard (except, the truespeech wasn't intended as the primary function and damn, would I have been fucked if the characters had actually fought her -- my bad for having a not quite complete NPC).

But... having looked at it with an eye to playing one and sincerely doing the math regarding 15+(2xChallenge Rating):

1st level: The difficulty of hitting yourself or another same level companion/enemy is 17.
Assuming an Int of 18 and skill focus, your skill is, what, 4+4+3, so 11. Need to roll a 6. Totally within reason. I get to try again if I fail.

5th level: it's 25
Hmmm. Int of 19. Skill focus. 8 ranks -- 4+8+3 = 15. Need to roll a 10. *wince* Fifty-percent failure rate to do the "simple" stuff, like +1 AC.

10th level: it's 35
Int 20. 13 ranks. Skill focus -- 5+13+3 = 21. Need to roll a 14. Not exactly impossible, but that's slightly better than a 1 in 4 chance to succeed on giving myself, woo-hoo, a +1 to my armor class.

20th level: it's 55

Without items to increase Int:
Base int of 18, +1 int every four levels... so Int of what, 23?

So... 23 ranks, int 23, skill focus... 23+6+3 = 32. Wow, I can hit a 55 by rolling 23 on a d20!

But, in fairness, even wizards need INT boosing stuff to be able to cast the really nice spells, so adding on a Book of Int + 5 and an item of Int + 6. Get that Int up to 34. That should net an Int bonus to skill of 12, I think. 23+12+3 = 38.

55 - 38 = 14 17 ('cause I can add) on a d20. Not impossible, but, seriously, a 20% chance of success?

And should I want to use any of the offensive abilities? On, say a Boss Monster that's 3 or 4 levels higher than me?

Have to hit DCs 61 and 63 respectively. Totally achievable on 1d20 without an item of truespeech on hand.

Except not.

And the thought of using the "metamagic" feats for truespeech (yeah, just let me add that +4 DC to that) is laughable.

A truespeaker has no choice but to aquire magic items (that they cannot themselves create) to be functional, and that starts fairly early. Every sample character in the book had a truespeak of 20 to 24, which made hitting a 33 to 35 (the samples were 9th-10th) within around average on the dice but they had to have the item to get there.

Verdict: I think the class is neat conceptually, but why would I want to play a character class that breaks by level nine? That's what I get for thinking "I'd kinda like to play a truenamer" because of the concept, instead of plowing all the way through the math to see if it was truly viable.

Didn't they playtest this before release? How could anyone think it was workable? *iz completely baffled*

Comments

I'm a little lost in exactly what you're going over, but I would like to point out that 55 – 38 = 17, not 14...

I can add. You're right. So it does suck as bad as I thought.

On the whole it's about Wizards releasing a D&D character class that's basically unplayable. If you have to roll a 17 on a d20 to create a simple effect (especially with a high level character which should have a great deal of power) then there's something intrinsically wrong with the way the class is structured.

As an NPC class where the NPC is always several levels higher, it's not so bad. But for PCs, it's like saying "You're a wizard and all you can use is Magic Missles (1st level spell), and they only work a third of the time."

hmm

while I won't argue the point of item requirements for basic functionality being stupid, I will point out that IF you have access to someone who can craft magic items, getting +5 or +10 bonuses to a single skill check is relatively inexpensive. That's just competence bonuses. Assuming more than one bonus type is applicable, (not to mention int bonuses) it shouldn't be impossible to keep your skill checks somewhere around 50%. On the other hand, this does sound like a complete inversion of the standard wizard. Starts out with a very good chance to be effective and gets weaker and weaker. Ugh.

Re: hmm

*nods* It's not the getting of the item (Ken's going to be running a game, and he's not bitchy about items) it's just... What do you mean the character levels up and becomes progressively less likely to accomplish anything? That's just... boggling.

And that doesn't count the other things they did to keep the truespeaker under control -- you can't use an utterance a second time while the duration of the first is still in effect (and I'm pretty sure that's regardless of target, not "you can't cast repeatedly against a single creature before the time runs out"), each repetition of a given utterance during a given day increases the DC of the check by two, etc. It takes five levels before you can use an utterance as an AE (which is fair, after all, that's when we get fireball) but at +2 DC for each included critter -- I'm pretty sure you don't get to omit the first that you would have hit anyway. So, say I wanted to hit a party of four fifth level characters with +1 AC (one of the first skills) its a DC of 15+10+8 -- so 33 DC on a skill level of 15 or so? How silly is it that a first level character would have had a reasonable hope of making the skill check, while it's not really all that probable on the 5th level character?

ok yes... the DC system is odd, but there are a couple of balanceing factors involved..

The DC of th check is dependant of foe CR. It does not matter if you hit it with your worst or your best "spell" that DC stays the same. Important note, as a true namer the first thing you do is learn the True Names of your party thats like another 2 or four point bonus.

I'd have to look it up, but I seem to recall a LOT less of the troubles mages have of getting to a point where they need huge piles of gear and lots of feats if they hope to effect things with their spells rather than going, "I cast, it saves, woohoo"

I don't have a copy on me unfortuneatly or I'd look it up.

One hugely important aspect of the class however, is that those abiltys are unlimited.. You have to dice to get them to go off, but unlike a wizzard or a cleric, you won't run out of true names.. you can just keep casting.

The other aspect of requireing that is with a skill based PC with magic that works on that basis. If you didn't put the DCs to that level it would become laughably easy to hit huge true name tricks over and over again simply because you could buy items with circumstane bonues, arcane bonuses, luck bonuses... you get the idea. At 10th level your expected to have a goodly chunk of magical tresure.. the idea of a truenamer not going out of there way to get an item that effects ALL of their magic is absurd, so they have to balance the game around a class who can cast forever, and will have access to 5 and 10 point skill boosters.

Yea.. playing for example a vow of poverty truenamer would suck balls... but Saveing throws, SR, AC, HP, and all other challenge stats are calculated based on partys have the proper amount of magical tresure.

A naked 10 level wizard would have issues with his spells bounceing off because his DCs were too low, and bounceing a spell on a wizard means a lot more since they can't just try again next round.


Not to be contrary, but I just wanted to put the other veiw point out there for balances sake.

Actually, one of the problems I have with the DC system is that it makes no difference if you're using high/low level abilities. I intensely dislike that, personally. YMMV.

As to the unlimited supply of truenames, that's only marginally true -- you can truename as long as you can meet the DCs, but the DCs go up every time you successfully use it in a day. If you've already got to hit a fourteen (for example) it doesn't take long to exhaust your ability to cast a particular utterance. Add the "You can't cast that again because the duration of your first casting isn't up" is inconvenient as well. They did a fairly decent job of balancing the "unlimited" without making the DCs absurd in addition, IMHO.

I will acknowledge that if a high-level wizard isn't clever about how they cast, there is a huge amount of "I cast, it saves/has sufficent SR/etc" but given that Truenamers start running into 70 percent failure rates at about level 9 without Truenamer specific gear... Yes, they should have magic items and whatnot, and yes, a truenamer would be moderately retarded *not* to aquire such. But it bugs me that the class *relies* on the Truenamer getting said items.

Of course, a GM simply could disallow the items, too, or make them difficult to acquire... After all, Truenamers aren't exactly common, so why on earth would their skill-specific items be readily available?

At 20th level I could have a bajillion created-specifically-for-me, luck/competance/divine/unnamed/what-the-fuck-ever bonus-out-the-wazoo items, but I don't know that I'd feel the need for them if they weren't also necessary. (The bonus for knowing a specific person's true name was not clear to me on a quick scan-through, although I think it's a +4 circumstance bonus, but, wow, that brings a 20th level caster w/o magic items and stat enhancements to only needing to roll a 19... woo-hoo! Gimme that ol' 10% success rate.)

That isn't to say they don't have certain advantages, but what use is having 30 or so available utterances when you can only use one per round and the odds of success are incredibly low (not counting items, of course)?

obviously if I was going to run a game where magic items would be hard to come by I would have to take a look at truenamers, either dismissing them, or reworking the DC system. I don't have access to the book, and I was mostly concentrateing on binders at the time, but I seem to recall the DC climb being on a per target basis.. that being said, if I hit my self with bonus AC, then I could hit my buddy with bonus AC and they would not hike the difficlty.. Unless I tried both at once..

In my mind True Namers were a sort of utility caster, able to do a lot of different things and do them alot. Like I said, it comes down to either hike up the DCs or not allow items to modify a true name check at all. They chose to go with the hikeing up DCs notion. I'd have to see how it played out to truely pass judgement on it. I know I've been wrong before, see also dragon shaman.

Anyway, it looks like your in persuit of a character that has a lot more sureity in what you do. I'm not certain what to suggest, every character is at the whims of the dice gods.. So the question is, do you go with attack rolls, SR/save rolls, Skill checks... ect..

I suppose it comes down to "is your DM a dick?" if the answer is yes.. don't play classes that are vulnrable to things like needing realy high skill rolls.

I got a look at the known truename -- if I remember right, it increases the save DC (assuming one is offered) and increases the casting DC by 2. I can doublecheck that when I get home. What's odd is that they do give a circumstance bonus for speaking one's own true name, but they never actually tell you why you'd be speaking it to begin with. Utterances themselves aren't your truename, just phrases in truespeech. *ponders*

Also, the "higher level" lexicons... I'm still trying to work out what you're supposed to use to determine the DC at all. A lot of the utterances aren't directed at things with CRs, so is it just a DC 15 check? *shakes head* And if I'm "warping reality/region" is the DC vs. the creatures in it, or the non-CR of the point of space the creatures occupy?

that being said, if I hit my self with bonus AC, then I could hit my buddy with bonus AC and they would not hike the difficlty.. Unless I tried both at once..

Nope. It's per casting of the spell in a given timeframe, regardless of target (I doublechecked, though I could be misunderstanding.) Not to mention -- you hit yourself with the +1 AC effect you can't cast that utterance again until the duration runs out (and now I want to look at it again, but I'm pretty sure that that's regardless of target, too, so only one particular utterance with a duration at a time.) The only way to hit multiple targets is to wait until 5th level, when you can use an utterance as an AE, but at +2 DC per target, it's... approaching fairly difficult. That's part of why the out-of-sight DCs seem a bit unreasonable -- between the continually escalating DCs and the "well, you've got to wait five rounds before you can cast that again" it seems that using twice the CR of the critter targeted seems a bit excessive.

I've no objection to obeying the whims of the dice gods, btw, it's just staring at "Can I even make that check at that level?" and boggling at the progression. I could play a fighter and be at the whim of obnoxious ACs and other defenses (right now, am leaning toward a full-blooded orc in pink plate armor, heh). I just object to odds of less than 20%. If the difficulty settled to something like 10-16 I'd be "eh, possible enough" but having to hit 18-20 to do things that should theoretically be routine? Not so much.

It looks to me like someone at Wizards thought "Hey, we should try a skill-based casting class!" but wasn't someone accustomed to true skill-based systems. The D&D skill system has some issues (IMHO) as it is which does make balancing the system for this kind of caster difficult. Me, I'd've gone for something closer to "8+(your level-their CR)+(difficulty of utterance)+(other modifiers, such as metamagics, # of creatures affected etc.)" That way you're always around 50% for casting on yourself/like leveled (or CR'd) beings, it's easier to cast vs. lower level critters, and your chance to hit something within about 5 levels isn't completely removed from possibility but *is* still a not-easy check on a linear scale.

I'd also allow a bit more by way of saving throws.

Okay, finally am doing this with the book in front of me:

Law of Resistance: Every time you speak an utterance, the DC goes up by +2. Period.

Your own personal truename: Grants a plus +4 circumstance bonus to casting on yourself. Other truenames give a +2 to penetrate SR, +2 to the save DC (if there is one) and increase the DC for speaking an utterance by +2. In theory, a rational DM might go "Dude, if you know the true names of the people in your party it makes it easier to cast on them, use the +4 circumstance bonus" but it isn't explicit in the rules.

Law of Sequence: You cannot repeat an utterance while the duration of a previous utterance is in effect. Period. And utterances are non-dismissable so you can't even go "Oops, I ment to hit Ben, not Omega!"

So, in combat you cannot hit allies with castings of the same utterance easily, unless done as an AE.

I'm curious, when Omega was running the truenamer fight, how often did he use the damage-dealing utterance? I don't recall finding an Amulet of the silver tongue on the guy and at our relative levels, I suspect three or so should have made the DCs really hard for him to make.

Aaaaand, after all the vehemence, I realized that my original point actually is: I think there's something wrong with the design of a character class if a) the DM has to fear the acquisition of readily available magic items or b) can only be functional by assuming a character can/will acquire them. It's not quite the same as a wizard's spellbook -- spellbooks are required from the inception of a wizard. Someone playing a truenamer (if they weren't paying attention) gets up a few levels and discovers that despite the fact that they're theoretically getting better at what they do, they can't actually manage the DCs for anything and have to buy an item to fix it.

I think that's a bad way to design a class, personally, and should have been a hint that they were going about it wrong. YMMV.