Page 803 - Essentially Dubious

13th Sep 2016, 6:00 AM in Pinkie Pride
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Essentially Dubious
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Newbiespud 13th Sep 2016, 6:00 AM edit delete
For those who don't know, the Essentials versions of certain 4e classes are simplified, reconfigured variants for newer players or players looking for a simpler, more classic approach to the classes on offer. The simplification gets panned first for removing options and continuing to dumb things down for D&D's widening audience at the time. Honestly, in my opinion, you can make a case for any of them from a new player, roleplaying, or flavor standpoint.

The more long-term criticism that's managed to stick is that just about all the Essentials classes are not very good at their player roles - Leader, Striker, Controller, etc. - to the point of having relatively little to contribute to combat. Depending on who you ask, not only are some of the Essentials classes underpowered, but so far below par that they're almost dead weight.

I've played a few Essentials characters, and some of them seem pretty bad. But overall I've had mixed results.

EDIT: Count on the comments section to generate some strong counterarguments, though!

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: January 27th, 2023.



Digo Dragon 13th Sep 2016, 6:06 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I've heard a fair bit of criticism for D&D 5th edition for being a simpler system; many bonuses and penalties were nixed in favor of the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic, and several classes were reworked, especially the magic-heavy ones. I personally find the changes to be rather nice and simply "something different" to play with.

I do like Rarity's comment in the last panel. That tends to be my stance running pbp games. ^^; Social rogues are awesome.
Mykin 13th Sep 2016, 7:43 AM edit delete reply
I'm of the same opinion. As someone who could never wrap his head around the 3.5 magic system and as someone who has spent 4 hours in a 5 hour session listening in on people trying to figure out what bonuses applied to which attacks, the changes feel like a godsend to me. It's not perfect, but I've noticed less time spent digging through rules and more roleplay with 5e, which is always a good thing in my book. Not to say I don't like 3.5 or Pathfinder or any of those systems (I primarily play Pathfinder on Mythweavers nowadays), just that it takes forever to play with some of my groups being what they are.

And speaking of PbP games, again I'm of the same opinion. Though I utterly suck at being a social anything. I just prefer to be the walking library or the snarky voice of reason in my games... for as long as they survive, at least.

... Yes, I'm still a bit sad about that one Pony finder game that never made it past the first few pages. Oh well.
Digo Dragon 13th Sep 2016, 8:30 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I've been playing tabletop RPs since... 1995/96 I believe? The hardest part of it all is getting a group together. These days it's much easier to find folks online willing to play since the internet connects so many more of us. And to that end, the games do need to adapt to the new format, streamlining rules and having online digital versions to accommodate players.

Something I like about social gaming is less dice I have to roll. I tend to roll terrible with digital systems.
Newbiespud 13th Sep 2016, 1:20 PM edit delete reply
...Psst. Digo. Log into Discord so I can confirm you for Sunday's game and give you secret information.
Someone 13th Sep 2016, 1:39 PM edit delete reply
So, Digo's one of the players this month? Good...
Anvildude 13th Sep 2016, 2:56 PM edit delete reply
I wonder if he'd be playing a certain white-haired unicorn mare?

Boy, wouldn't that be an interesting introductory session.
Digo Dragon 14th Sep 2016, 5:08 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
That certainly would be interesting... O.o

Interesting much in the same way as watching the original 80's dub of Voltron where most of the ladies were voiced by guys trying to sound like ladies. XD
Digo Dragon 14th Sep 2016, 5:10 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Will do this evening/late afternoon Pacific time.
Chrysalis 13th Sep 2016, 6:19 PM edit delete reply
I was wondering about where some of you go to play online at? Anyone know anywhere good? probably DO, it's more, could you please tell me where? XD
Scaevolla 13th Sep 2016, 1:35 PM edit delete reply
I am going to DM my first 5th edition module at the weekend and honestly it provides mixed impressions right now. While the simplification and streamlining maybe good from the player view, as DM I feel myself kinda limited. Monster creation is awkward. Not by design, but by DM-book complete inability to describe this process. Combat design is kinda bland. Goblins can attack and run. Bugbears attack and do more damage on the first round. Bears attack twice. There are no "Oh, sh*t, it's going berserk!" or similar combat-changing effects. Sure, I can insert them, while overcoming the system in the process. But 4e felt much more fluid in this department. And monsters in MM were at least 20% cooler.
aylatrigger 13th Sep 2016, 9:14 PM edit delete reply
I usually like to munchkin...I like rping too, but I get ideas for characterization based off what I get from munchkinning. To not munchkin I have to force myself...

Though you could still munchkin social situations. It's not like munchkinning HAS to be battle focused. But Cha characters have a lot that they can use in battle too (just look at x to y if you don't believe me). ...Also if you go that route, you should be able to talk your way out of battles anyway.

On the note of social rogues, I have one planned. For an any-alignment-goes game. Macheath. A known serial killer who is just so charming that no one cares. Leads a gang, but rarely has them do his dirty work. Whenever he comes into town, bodies start turning up. Mostly with knife wounds. But he is usually friends with the police, and there are rumors he is even friends with royalty... And of course, he gets all the girls (which would be the hardest part of the roleplay for me- I don't do romance).

Minstrels sing throughout the kingdom of the tales and warnings of, 'Mack the Knife'.
ANW 13th Sep 2016, 6:06 AM edit delete reply
Who here thinks they'll change alligment or classes?
If so, who? And to what?
cyborg7221 13th Sep 2016, 6:23 AM Not Underpowered edit delete reply
Actually, I've run campaigns with nothing but Essentials classes, and they really aren't that underpowered. Thieves get a scaling bonus to basic attack damage instead of the concentrated novas that come with a Daily. Hunters can soup up their RBAs to the point where they're as powerful as (or more than) a lot of Wizard at-will and encounter spells- though, again, no dailies. Knights and Cavaliers get all the perks that come with marking, but with a simplified Defender Aura mechanic that's a whole lot easier to keep track of. Meanwhile, Mages get to prepare even _more_ spells than the original Wizard (with the inclusion of encounter spells in the Spellbook feature), and even get a wider selection of Cantrips (though you can only pick three of those). Not to mention the auto-hit Magic Missile that Twilight once used to derail an entire session... yeah, all Mages get that as a class feature.

Honestly, the only Essentials class that I have a real problem with is the Sentinel. They only get one At-will power, under the assumption that using Animal Attack counts as one. I've played one, and it's really not that fun.

The real reason most people seem to hate them is that they're a little hard to min-max, as RB and Rarity just pointed out. However, if you're a little creative, you can get some really good DPR out of a Slayer or Thief. Try using the Pixie feat _Streak of Light_ which grants CA on a charge, in conjunction with the Thief's Escape Artist's Trick or Acrobat's Trick. There's also a certain Skald power that basically makes you immune to attacks against creatures of a certain Will score or lower. No attack rolls, it's just #nope. It's level 5, and my DM banned it after one session. Not to mention the synergetic properties of some of the other Skald powers... Also, Skald multiclass basically makes you a Hybrid Skald with one feat. If you're a Half-elf and use Dilletante to get a Skald At-will as an Encounter power (they're all Stances anyway), then you can basically be a strong secondary leader at the cost of just one Feat and the requirement of a good basic attack.

But I digress. My point is that there are plenty of ways to get an OP build out of an Essentials class.
Newbiespud 13th Sep 2016, 7:35 AM edit delete reply
This is the first time on the internet (and in several gaming groups) I've seen positive things said about the Essentials. Not that I don't believe you, but I can be forgiven for thinking that was the general consensus, can't I?
Godzfirefly 13th Sep 2016, 7:48 AM edit delete reply
I DMed a game where we had a mix of Essentials and 'original' characters, and we found that the Half-Orc Fighter (Slayer) was the best Striker that we'd ever had. In fact, none of the Essentials characters felt under-powered at all. And, the blend of Essentials' constant strength level with the original classes' Dailies made for a strong blend of options across our group during combat.
cyborg7221 13th Sep 2016, 9:33 AM edit delete reply
Of course you can be forgiven; especially because it <is> the general consensus. After many years, I have come to accept that my opinion will, more often than not, represent a very small minority who prefer to appreciate what they like instead of dissing what they have preexisting biases towards. It can't really be helped. I'm just kind of different.
Winged Cat 13th Sep 2016, 10:14 AM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
"nothing but Essentials classes"

Complaints about a class's power level are most often in comparison to the other classes. If everyone in a given campaign is using the most underpowered classes around (regardless of whether Essentials classes are that, though this holds true if they are), then there's much less to complain about, regardless of whether there exist other classes in the system that don't matter to that particular campaign.

(Yes, there may be complaints about, "but X is scaled to an 'average' class, and we still have to face X with our underpowered classes." Except that most campaigns tend to scale the actual challenges to what that party can take - which factors in both the PCs and the players, and there ain't no system that can handle well all the variations in player ability. If you have one player who's studied military tactics IRL, and another who's a Leeroy Jenkins noob-who-refuses-to-learn, that will outweigh the combat ability difference between most classes in most systems.)
True Hitoare 13th Sep 2016, 6:23 AM edit delete reply
That seems a bit of a sweeping generalization, there. Granted, some of the worst classes in the game are Essentials classes (Vampire), but some of them are still very solid. I've got an Executioner character I'm playing right now, and he's VERY effective, and it's unquestionable that Executioner is much better than the O-Assassin. I haven't played them yet, but Elementalists also look strong, and Mages can get some great features.
Tempestfury 13th Sep 2016, 7:33 AM edit delete reply
You know, I would love to have a discussion with several people here about the differences as well as the pro's and con's about 3.5/4th/5th Edition D&D. Mainly because I'm trying to do a 3.5/Pathfinder Overhaul, and I want look at the 4th and 5th edition in learn why they made certain mechanical choices, and what works for those editions that might not work in the others.
Newbiespud 13th Sep 2016, 7:43 AM edit delete reply
I've been reading angry snippets of that exact conversation for five years, and now someone just asks for it?!

<walks out>
Tacticslion 13th Sep 2016, 11:39 AM Hopefully lacking the anger. edit delete reply
Newbiespud, I really hope we can do so without the anger.

I know it's hard. It's really hard. There are a lot of bitter people. I'm really hoping that the non-bitter people (or the people who, despite feeling bitter, can recognize that other people feel differently and respect that enough to be friendly about the whole thing towards others' opinions that differ from their own) generally hold the day. Hey: it's possible! :D
Tempestfury 13th Sep 2016, 5:10 PM edit delete reply
Seems to be working quite well, I'll have to check out comments when I wake up!
The Old One 13th Sep 2016, 10:06 AM edit delete reply
I will have to jump on this later, as my thumbs are incapable of producing the full amount o text this requires.
First, numerable "exclamation point" jokes aside, i liked 4e.
For your overhaul, you should consider the "second wind" mechanic. It uses an actio to restore a fraction of your hit points and raises your defenses for a turn. I use this in the non-divine game i run and it makes things much easier on the party. It is the one single mechanic that really made 4e for me.
Atarlost 13th Sep 2016, 10:17 AM edit delete reply
I've not looked into 5th, but according to rumor it's similar to the TSR editions.

What 3.x does right is character building. If someone likes those editions more than the TSR versions that's probably why. They also do skills at all, which the TSR editions do not and 4th does poorly (skill challenges were a mistake).

For skills the best easy to describe solution is to get rid of skills on level up (except first). Skills come from use with a cap based on level. Skills provide an important mechanical framework to non-combat tasks and enable less social players to play more social characters, but they also act as a barrier to participating in RP. Getting rid of skills is problematic, but so is making it impractical for the fighter to participate in conversations without making the group worse off. You can try to make social mechanically complicated with distinct roles and have players build a social only class in "gestalt" with a combat only class, but it won't be easy. Better to separate skilledness from combat and use skill based RPG mechanics for skills. The only reason to even use level as a cap is that some skills will inevitably have use in combat.

That's a big flaw in class based systems: trading noncombat options against combat options. Don't let players have the opportunity to do that. Paizo's Vigilante is a good example of the sort of divide I'm talking about, but it should apply nearly across the board. Combat feats don't go in the same slots as noncombat feats. All classes should be balanced to the limits of your ability and patience in combat and out of combat. Stats used primarily out of combat don't come from the same point buy pool or dice pool as stats used primarily in combat. The division won't be perfect, but the more the two sides can be kept separate the better. Everyone should have the ability to participate usefully in every long scene. Combat and social are generally the longest scenes.

The think 4th did well was per encounter powers. The encounter is the main unit of game balance, making daily abilities scale in value inversely with the number of encounters per day. This promotes the 15 minute workday and is generally bad for the game.

The thing 4th did badly was make powers boring. Combat maneuvers (not PF's mechanics: they're broken except in humanoid vs humanoid combats, but some sort of systemization from 3.5 is probably desirable) and converting daily abilities into per encounter (which for magic may be as simple as letting any slot be replenished at any time by meditating for a minute per level)
Dragonflight 13th Sep 2016, 11:01 AM edit delete reply
A lot of what Atarlost says is on the money. 1st and 2nd edition were adapted from Gary Gygax's notes on US Naval warship simulations he came up with as part of a bid to sell a tabletop random-number based combat simulator to the US military. When that didn't pan out, he adapted it into the fantasy game system people play in one of many flavours today.

The first two generations owe their design principles to the combat model philosophy, because they were never intended to support social dynamics. They were adapted from a naval combat sim framework, and it shows.

3rd Edition and 3.5 introduced skills, and a robust skill challenge system, which allowed roleplaying to finally take center stage, even to the point where combat was no longer the only way to resolve situations. This seemed to be where the game was going.
Guest 13th Sep 2016, 11:01 AM edit delete reply
3rd Edition and 3.5 introduced skills, and a robust skill challenge system, which allowed roleplaying to finally take center stage, even to the point where combat was no longer the only way to resolve situations. This seemed to be where the game was going.

Ironically, right about this time, the Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game started to become a thing. MMORPG's are bright, colorful, with plenty of interactive content, and pretty graphics. They are also intentionally designed to be *kinetic*, with emphasis on fast combat and quick resolutions. This encourages the grind-fest dynamic which popularizes a lot of games, especially those coming out of the Korean market.

In response to the demand, the RPG game developers began altering the game dynamic to reflect the MMO model, in order to attract the same player group to their offerings. After all, if 11 million people are willing to play World of Warcraft for years on end, tapping even a fraction of that market for an MMO-style RPG would seem to make solid financial sense. Unfortunately, what this meant is that the traditional game system began to suffer as the combat and magical frameworks were remodeled to reflect the kind of experience the player would have in an MMO. Powers became cheap and prolific. Even common combat characters suddenly had supernatural combat powers, which would be used similar to MMO's as "builder" powers to build up energy toward the less-frequent "finisher" powers. This model (with some tweaking) became the 4e model.
Dragonflight 13th Sep 2016, 11:02 AM edit delete reply
Along the way, the skill system was drastically changed. With the rise of the MMO dynamic, social interaction was seen as less desirable. When your social interaction in a game consists of "collect 500 baby orc skulls for our next weenie roast," what do you really need a robust social system for? 4e changed to a less useful skill dynamic, which was really no more robust than a coin flip. You roll d20. If you roll over 10, you succeed. As mentioned above, a simple coin toss would have the same effect. Which means that suddenly the entire skills dynamic is meaningless. It's an afterthought, and no more relevant than whatever skills system GM's tried to shoehorn into 1st or 2nd Edition.

5e is continuing the model, with a similarly retarded skills system. Magic is weak and easily resisted, with most spells being resisted on average 75% of the time. Even the really historically dangerous spells now are only an inconvenience, and can be resisted by the level of people they will be used against approximately one chance in two.

Most magic which was designed to add flavor to the campaign, or add to the immersive magical "feel" of a game has been nerfed down to a duration roughly equivalent to a commercial break. This is because MMO magic is fast, and runs out quickly. It's meant to be recast situationally, with the understanding that no magic is meant to last more than (at most) a few minutes. This is great for an MMO environment, which depends on players with a short attention span. But it's a bad fit for a tabletop game.

So, for what it's worth, that in a nutshell is what I find to be worth taking away from the various games. They have their strengths, and their weaknesses. Each edition is aimed at specific audiences. With 4e onward, Wizards made the conscious decision to abandon the larger percentage of the old guard, who would not adapt well to the MMO model, in favor of a younger generation. Which is why many of the old guard either play 3.5, or have migrated to Pathfinder (although that *also* suffers from the MMO dilemna to some degree, as well.)
SpoonyViking 13th Sep 2016, 1:53 PM edit delete reply
" 4e changed to a less useful skill dynamic, which was really no more robust than a coin flip. You roll d20. If you roll over 10, you succeed."

That's patently untrue even as an overly simplified explanation.

4E's core skill system was basically the same as 3E's: roll a d20, add all relevant bonuses, check against the DC. It also had skill challenges, which were extended skill checks in which you had to succeed a certain number of times. 4E also kept social skills, much like 3E had.
Digo Dragon 13th Sep 2016, 12:59 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Having played the old TSR systems, I can see some similarities in the skill system implemented.
Zuche 13th Sep 2016, 2:20 PM edit delete reply
I still consider the skill challenge system to be one of the best and most poorly understood parts of 4th Edition.

I've seen it used to reduce hours of skirmish to three five minute challenges and two combat encounters. The players could take on an army without having to field endless hordes of minions or mobs. Once a table got past the mentality of, "You should only do what you're good at," and concentrated on moving the story forward, things tended to turn out pretty well.

Failure moved a story along different avenues. It delayed opportunities, pushed the party up against new challenges, or adjusted the difficulty of the next combat. Sometimes arriving battered and late meant an easier encounter because your main target eluded for another session. Sometimes success came at too high a price--and some tables liked it that way.

Best of all, it wasn't the only option for handling complex challenges. IF your group of players could work together to describe a plan in fascinating detail, you could bypass a challenge in whole or in part, hand out the experience, and thank everyone for their contributions to a lovely evening. You could talk out a diplomatic session one week and play the aftermath out as a skill challenge based on their choices a week later. Some groups could do this in reverse, but that sort of challenge isn't fun for everyone.

The concept was a solution in search of new problems.
Winged Cat 13th Sep 2016, 10:22 AM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
Surely there are other such overhauls you can examine and use as a starting point, which already include points from 4th if not 5th?
terrycloth 13th Sep 2016, 11:24 AM edit delete reply
I really liked 4th edition. It had the best combat in any role playing game I've seen. The non-combat stuff was a mess but that's usually mostly role-playing anyway.

3.5 has the most detailed and simulationist non-combat stuff. I'm sure you know all about it. It's the only version where you can probably find a well-reasoned way to calculate the exact DC of any check.

5e is sort of a mix -- the noncombat mechanics are simple and it doesn't let you stack modifiers until you can do impossible things, but almost anything is possible for anyone. And you can learn new skills and tool proficiencies without having to go up in level and adventure -- it's what you do during down-time.

5e combat is simplified. There aren't as many maneuvers available to everyone -- if you want to grapple effectively and pin someone so that they can't act, you need to take a grappler feat or class ability or something. If you just want to hold someone so that they can't run away, well -- that's simple and anyone can do it.

You don't need to worry about placement as much -- there's no flanking (rogues get the effect of flanking by having anyone else adjacent to their target) and you only draw AoOs by moving out of contact with an enemy, not from just circling around them. Lots of things that would otherwise cause annoying micromanagement are bonus actions and you can just do them 'for free' unless the GM thinks you're trying to do too many at once.

Enemies in 4e are balanced so that you have a 50/50 chance of hitting and a 50/50 chance of getting hit, modified by +/-10% by whatever's personally good or bad about your character or the target.

Enemies in 5e can generally be hit by anyone. Attack bonuses and AC both go up very slowly and max out around 25 AC and +15 to-hit (for things like gods). Instead, you defend yourself with 4e-style maneuvers like 'parry' which come from your class. If your class isn't meant to fight in melee, it won't have any of those, so you can still contribute (because anyone can hit any target reasonably often) but it's a much bigger risk. I like that about it a lot.

Magic, though -- they nerfed the long-term buffs again, more than 3.5 nerfed them from 3e but not as much as they were nerfed in 4e. This time the limitation is 'concentration', which basically means that a caster can only maintain one buff at a time. With a few weird exceptions. Casters also get fewer spell slots and spells don't usually go up in damage without using higher level slots.

The upshot of all this is that fighters and barbarians do most of the damage even without the ridiculous stacking bonuses you can get in 3.5 or especially Pathfinder, although casters have some tricks.

I think the goal of 5e was to try to keep everyone in the level 3-7 'sweet spot' in 3.5 for the entire game, and it mostly works.
terrycloth 13th Sep 2016, 11:29 AM edit delete reply
Oh, and the save DC thing -- yeah, your DCs go up slowly and hover around 15 for a long time, but if you match the spell to the target their bonus to saves is probably +0. Most enemies have +0 on at least one save and like +2 on the others. So you should expect your spells to land 2/3rds of the time, which is better than 3.5 actually, where after a certain point every enemy makes every save.
Tacticslion 13th Sep 2016, 11:37 AM Look to Green Ronin and Star Wars d20 edit delete reply
Tempestfury: if you're looking to see some elements of what would eventually go into 4E mindset in 3rd, 3.5, and PF game systems, both Green Ronin and Star Wars have you at least partially covered. In the Star Wars SAGAS edition (to my understanding) you have a set of encounter-like systems on a more d20-like chassis, while in the Star Wars d20 game, you have defenses tied directly to levels.

Green Ronin did things very differently with their Blue Rose and later True20 d20-variant rules, but with the same basic ideas (which is also found in Star Wars d20): take the d20 rules system and streamline. In those variants, skills and skill points become the defacto currency instead of at-will/encounter/per-day powers, but the principle still stands: everyone with mystic powers has some sort of limited use thereof based off of a generalized and universal rule, instead of a fluctuating number unique to each individual.
(Actually, correction: SWd20 does have the fluctuating number unique to each individual, but that's because it deals their equivalent of non-lethal damage to the force user; it's so easy to swap out for the fatigue variant in Green Ronin products, I'd actually kind of forgotten it didn't do that until just now.)

Either way, the principle of streamlining the math - in 4E by making everything more or less equally "attacks" that more or less equally oppose different kinds of "defenses", and in some of these systems "skill checks" that needlessly derive their half-value DCs - I suggest skipping the check, and just going with half-value of ranks placed within a skill for DCs-derived for cleaner faster math, myself) either way, the point is the same: to make everyone viable in a way that ensures you can play any class.

Opponents of 4E tended to accuse it of "same-ism" - in other words, they tended to think the classes felt "the same" as each other.

Opponents of d20 (that's 3rd/3.5/PF) games tended to accuse it of over-complication - in other words, they tend to think there were too many different working parts.

Neither of these are actually wrong - both are valid, because they're based on emotional impressions. Of course neither are fundamentally correct, either - both are only true to people to whom they are true, and if someone enjoys a system and doesn't experience the problems others level at it, it (by definition) isn't a problem for that would-be player, so...

Point is: be aware that whatever overhaul you're thinking of making, you need to know why you want to make it first. Why do you want to make the overhaul? What are your end-goals? How do you want to approach them? Why?

- Are you looking to stick to a d20-base system (which helps towards backwards compatibility and/or conversion)? Look at Green Ronin's or even Dreamscarred Press' stuff before you start redesign.

- Are you looking to have a more symmetrical playing experience (which helps towards ease of relative balance)? Look at 4E's design philosophy.

- Are you looking to simplify the concepts of the game entirely? Look instead at something like 5E or even elsewhere entirely like the Cortex+ Firefly system (an awesome variant of the Cortex+ system that I've had good success with in modelling several different game styles).

What do you want out of your attempted remodel? Breaking down all the individual decisions on a forum like this would be... too big, I'd say.

(Similarly, my own breakdown of 5E OP builds disagrees with <at least some of>* others' noted here... but then again, I kind of stole mine, so, can't take any credit there. Mine are strictly second-hand. But that's a long and interesting debate for another time. :D)

* EDIT: You start a response, leave for a couple of hours to take care of kids, come back, and find interesting arguments and ideas presented. Naturally. I can't actually tell if it disagrees with all or not, as I haven't read them all. And now to my son's Taekwondo! Away! :D
Tempestfury 14th Sep 2016, 2:01 AM edit delete reply
You know about all of them, I think your the one that will probably be the most helpful to me. Whilst I am learning a lot about the differences between the 3 systems I mentioned, you've done the best at breaking down what those 3 different systems did, and what I should look at from them in regards to my own overhaul. The main thing I want to do, is keep the d20 base, so that conversation is possible, whilst adddress some of the issues off balance and scaling that is evident in 3.5 and Pathfinder.

5E, from what I've heard about. Looks like it could be fun to play and I will admit, the class modularity/customization it has, is excellent. But the streamlined system, the streamlined proficiency system... I really don't like that. Advantedge/Disadvantage is pretty strong, and means you don't need to be bothered by tracking every single numerical bonus out there. But I don't like how a fighter or a barbarian will have the same bonus to hit with a weapon that a wizard is proficent with.

There is stuff to look at in D&D 5th Edition that I can possibly learn from... but in the end, I want a d20 game that people from both 3.5 and Pathfinder will greatly enjoy.
Tacticslion 14th Sep 2016, 9:27 AM Compatibility mode engaged... edit delete reply
Okay, so if you're interested in compatibility mode is your goal, but you're also interested in streamlining and simplification, you've got some decisions to make.

Pathfinder (and d20 before it) is built on the assumptions of stacking bonus types (especially Pathfinder).

As an example, you may want to leave some of the stacking bonus types, but want to stick to some of the broad and easily accessible categories. Basically, you'd need to reduce things to enhancement bonuses, natural AC, inherent bonuses (via wish), and then just make everything else a generic magic bonus.
(This limits the number of bonuses you track, but it allows for hopefully-competitive bonuses to attacks and defenses.)

If you're just looking for something that both 3.5 and PF players will enjoy... hm.

The d20 system was created to simplify things from the beginning. That's the 3rd edition. The 3.5 came about because 3rd was a lovely but quirky system with a number of oddities including a lack of codification and a few surprisingly abuse-able sequences and tricks - things that had seemed important in development turned out to be less important in-play. Plus Hasbro wanted to make money and make a more professional-looking product. So 3.5 was born, and it was actually pretty good for the the most part (though a few changes were awkward, including arbitrary alterations to the typical rules; ex: skeletons becoming evil, even though they're mindless).

PF was born of two things: 3.5's tendency toward "dead levels" (levels where people didn't get anything, making them kind of boring), and an attempt at re-balancing things (including hypothetical nerfs on magical power, and increasing the power of skills by combining them - which, ironically, had the opposite of the intended effect and weakened skill-based classes, while the elimination of certain skill-taxes like Concentration merely empowered casters). Effectively, PF did some great things, and technically empowered everyone, but, by comparison, in a weird sort of way, weakened everyone except casters.
(Bear in mind: I am a fan and player of PF. I love Paizo as a company. They made a couple of significant errors in their original development, however, which result in weird current imbalances within the system that was designed to balance itself. But their adventures and stories are top-notch, and they really have some excellent employees, and awesome customer service, and do have a good understanding of game design. Mostly, I think, it's a philosophy disagreement that lead to - ooooookay, thunderstorm means I need to cut this short.)

Shorter version: you're not going to create a system that makes everyone happy all the time. Instead, find what you like about 3.5/PF and what you don't, outline it in broad terms, and go from there.

Again, I'd suggest looking at similar "d20-but-not" systems for basic concepts first (including Star Wars d20, Star Wars SAGAS, Blue Rose, True20, and similar), and then re-comparing those to the base systems.

Maybe more later. Sorry for cutting this short (or for rambling over-long; pick which applies in your opinion!). :D

Tempestfury 14th Sep 2016, 3:02 PM edit delete reply
... Do you have Skype or Discord? You seem like just the type of guy I need to help me work out the details of my revamp.
Tacticslion 15th Sep 2016, 7:54 AM It's a good site! edit delete reply
Sadly, I do not! Sorry!

If you get on [url=[/url], you can find a pretty good place to chat and keep pretty good notes - you'll also find a lot of experts on the d20 systems, especially Pathfinder system (and 3.5 before it) - better than me, for sure!

I recommend it! Totally free, and it's good for other reasons, too.

(Sorry it took so long to get back to you - didn't realize you'd asked!)

EDIT: Nope. Cannot get that URL to work. I dunno why. Oh well!
Tempestfury 16th Sep 2016, 1:00 PM edit delete reply
I'm already on the Paizo forums actually, working on a character for a game there. I'm also at several other places as well. Such as Mythweavers and Giant in the Playground (Order of the Stick website), but thank you for the recomandation.

Was just hoping to get one or two people I can discuss my project with on a more personal level, and you really stood out to me. Ah well through, perhaps I'll get lucky with someone else.
Akouma 13th Sep 2016, 7:40 AM edit delete reply
I didn't have a problem with their power level when they came out. I had a problem with how profoundly boring they felt. The non-essentials versions of these classes leaned heavily on your selections from roughly one bajillion powers. The essentials characters removed a ton of choices from the build process in favor of just handing you a pre-packaged playstyle that leaned heavily on class features that you just got automatically with few choices. And those playstyles weren't BAD, there were just lots of things you do automatically because they're just always on (auras, bonuses to your basic attacks, etc.). At least with the non-essentials classes you had a bunch of powers to choose from at any given moment.

That said, as something for new players to build their first character in the system they were great. And if they were coming in to a level 1 game the difference in power level just doesn't matter unless the DM was throwing things WAY too high level at the party.
Jennifer 13th Sep 2016, 8:06 AM edit delete reply
I was never dissatisfied with 3rd, though I don't think I ever played 3.5. I played a demo or two of 4th when it came out, then read the Alexandrian's brutal takedown of pretty much everything about 4th Edition and walked away. Since then the only proper rulesets I've played have been Call of Cthulhu and Dark Heresy, both of which I found rather refreshing. And as a rookie DM I've been mostly satisfied with XD20.
Space Jawa 13th Sep 2016, 8:31 AM edit delete reply
I don't know what it is, but there's something that strikes me as being oddly perfect about that final panel, especially when I imagine it being said in Rarity's voice.
Klimpaloon 13th Sep 2016, 8:59 AM edit delete reply
Methinks Twilight is considering becoming an alicorn.
Winged Cat 13th Sep 2016, 10:27 AM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
Youwishes Twilight is considering becoming an alicorn. :P
Sky Stream 13th Sep 2016, 10:22 PM edit delete reply
I don't think she CONSIDERS becoming an Alicorn, but their DM might choose to give her player the possibility or something. We still don't know WHICH player has their birthday (although it does look like it's Dash's player). And with how RP she is and how not min-maxing she is, the DM may think: "there won't be anything wrong in giving her the option to make Twilight an Alicorn" That, and I guess that even though there are definitely still screenshots of Unicorn Twilight, the really interesting ones might be rareifying....
Tacticslion 13th Sep 2016, 11:47 AM Testing Comment edit delete reply
Test Comment:

Strike through?
[]Link to wikipedia[/url]?
[ooc]Out of character[/ooc]?

I don't know what coding works or doesn't here, so I'm testing this out really quickly on my way out the door...
Mykin 13th Sep 2016, 12:11 PM edit delete reply
URLs need to be the full URL in order for that tag to work. Other than that, nice to know that there is an underline opinion that I can use here.
Digo Dragon 13th Sep 2016, 1:00 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Everyone has to draw the line on formatting somewhere.
Winged Cat 13th Sep 2016, 4:53 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
Draw the line. Ha!

That was a pun on purpose, right?
Digo Dragon 14th Sep 2016, 5:05 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Puns are always on purpose. ;)
Tacticslion 14th Sep 2016, 1:27 PM Test two edit delete reply
Like this?

Or this?
EDIT: YEP! Okay, you have to add the https:// first. Wow, that's a lot of detail. Good to know!

This is just a test. Man, kids keep you busy. Don't let anyone tell you different(ly).
Crimson Dawn 13th Sep 2016, 6:46 PM edit delete reply
Essential characters are not really that bad. For instance they have a much higher floor than the original classes. I have seen people complain that essentials classes were overpowered because they previously chose poor powers and the essentials classes are at the least decent.

Most of them have lower ceilings in power though a few like the slayer actually can be downright dangerous and are one of the best strikers out there.

If you really want to open up optimization for those classes just let them trade their set encounter powers for any of their classes attack powers that they could have taken by that level.
j-eagle12212012 14th Sep 2016, 3:29 AM edit delete reply
So if I understand the direction this arc is taking than we will have an in character reason for twilight to be an Alicorn so that Newbispud can use more screencaps from Season 4 and onward
Masterweaver 14th Sep 2016, 11:05 AM edit delete reply
See, this is why I collect multiple gaming systems. I have a lot of Ponyfinder stuff, but also many other Pony RP digital things, and oodles of nonpony fantasy, sci-fi, general PDFs.

And lots of ordinary books too.

...shame I never use any of them.
Tacticslion 14th Sep 2016, 1:24 PM The one problem with being a stay-at-home father... edit delete reply
... yeah, pretty much.

I really need some of those demiplanes where no time passes in the outside world. Kind of like the hyperbolic time chamber, but even more. Its the only way I'm ever going to start making a dent in the sheer volume of everything I want to do...
Truly Mad Moves 14th Sep 2016, 9:43 PM edit delete reply
Truly Mad Moves
I would like very much to convert to 5th Edition. Seems like it's got the whole package, perfect little humble culmination of everything that came before it. What holds me back? Well, that would be the twenty-seven 4th Edition books on my shelf, who sit there taunting me about the fact that I bought every single one of them with my hard-earned money and devoted many hours and days of my life to meticulously cataloging everything in them for use in a full 30-level campaign which, after three years, has only just made it halfway to Level 2. I'm sick to death of 4th Edition's limitations - I used to love the pulse-pounding action, but that got old quick and it's the single worst system I've ever encountered for telling a story - but if I switch to 5th then what the heck am I going to do with my 174,000 words of 4th Edition campaign notes? Yeah, I did the calculations, and I know that if we start playing twice a week, every week, getting as much done per hour of play as we have so far, we won't reach the end of the story until 2053, and no, I *don't* know how it's possible for my players to play so slowly, it frustrates me to death, but if I quit on them, again, what the heck did I do all that work for? *sigh*... :(
Guest 14th Sep 2016, 10:51 PM edit delete reply
Stormwind alert!
Awooga. Awooga.
Stormwind Alert
Archone 14th Sep 2016, 11:55 PM edit delete reply
I've never played 4th... or 1st. I've played 2nd edition, and I have the books for 1st edition, and... frankly, I might not be the best person to criticize game systems, because compared to the THAC0 of the first two games (and the bit where literally every individual weapon had different bonuses/penalties against different ACs), pretty much ANYTHING is simpler and easier to understand. So to me, once I realized that Pathfinder was a game where all you ever do is roll 1d20 and add modifiers to see if you exceed the target number... compared to percentages for thief skills, wanting high numbers for some stats and low numbers for others, and only a few nonweapon proficiencies... oi.

That being said... 5th edition wasn't too bad. My only lament is that it doesn't allow for nearly as much customization as with Pathfinder.

But honestly, all the D&D games are... well, they're a good intro to roleplaying, but they're really not the best. I personally prefer point based systems such as Shadowrun or M&M. Or at least a classless system. But that's because I like to focus on the RP concept, and rigidly defined classes can really get in the way of that.
Azureink 15th Sep 2016, 2:30 PM edit delete reply
Funnily enough, a lot of the Essentials classes are even more overpowered than the more normal 4e classes.