Saving Throws and Proficiencies

Okay, I lied. I actually have a few additional posts to share with you. Today I want to consider the rules for Saving Throws, Weapon Proficiencies, Armour Proficiencies and Shield Proficiencies. These new rules are designed to make multiclassing flow a little more easily in the game. I think these changes are entirely fair. Let’s see what you think.

Saving Throws

Third edition uses the same saving throw table for all core classes and all prestige classes. I’m sure you’re very familiar with it, but let’s take a quick look for old times sake:

Level

Good Save

Poor Save

1

+2

+0

2

+3

+0

3

+3

+1

4

+4

+1

5

+4

+1

6

+5

+2

7

+5

+2

8

+6

+2

9

+6

+3

10

+7

+3

11

+7

+3

12

+8

+4

13

+8

+4

14

+9

+4

15

+9

+5

16

+10

+5

17

+10

+5

18

+11

+6

19

+11

+6

20

+12

+6

The standard third edition table gives character a +2 bump in their good saving throws at first level. Arguably, if it wasn’t for this small advantage the character wouldn’t be able to hold his own in the game world. A fighter without +2 in Fortitude at 1st level wouldn’t be the robust powerhouse of the party (in relative terms, of course).

The problem comes when a player multiclasses into lots of different classes that give him the same 1st level bump to the same saving throw. A 4th level character who has 1 level in fighter, 1 level in paladin, 1 level in cleric, 1 level in monk has a +8 base fortitude saving throw, and +2 in Reflex and Will. It’s an extreme example, but extrapolated over a number of levels you have the problem that a character can be almost certain to succeed at one saving throw, and almost certain to fail the other two.

To be honest, as long as you allow multiclassing there’s not much you can do about this except to try and put it off for as many levels as possible. And that’s what Pathfinder does. It keeps the original third edition saving throw table for the core classes, but when it comes to prestige classes it uses a completely different one:

Level

Good Save

Poor Save

1

+1

+0

2

+1

+1

3

+2

+1

4

+2

+1

5

+3

+2

6

+3

+2

7

+4

+2

8

+4

+3

9

+5

+3

10

+5

+3

It’s quite a difference isn’t it? The Poor Save for prestige classes is slightly improved, but the Good Save is significantly less… well, Good, than it used to be. You can see why they’ve done this. Pathfinder has taken out the XP penalty for monstrously multiclassed characters, so they’ve found other ways to penalise such builds. Players who take on too many prestige classes will find themselves with lower saving throws than someone who only has one class.

The trouble is that I don’t think this is a very good solution. In my experience, the main problem with multiclassing doesn’t come from a character taking on an insane number of prestige classes: it comes from taking levels in multiple core classes. And these rules do nothing to stop that. In fact by making the saving throw progression of prestige classes unattractive, they encourage more multiclassing between core classes.

Let’s look for a second at dear old Elias Raithbourne. I keep trotting him out as an example of an overclassed character – but to be fair this choice of classes perfectly reflects how Marc has played him over the years, and I have no problem at all with his choices. Anyway, Elias is currently a (deep breath!) Sorcerer 1, Fighter 2, Rogue 2, Paladin 5, Pious Templar 4, Glorious Servitor 3. He has four core classes and two prestige classes. These rules aren’t as harsh on him as Pathfinder probably intended.

So here’s my compromise. It’s a new saving throw table that is the same for Core Classes and for Prestige Classes. It walks the middle line between the original saving throw table, and the new Pathfinder one. It makes all multiclassing equal. Here it is:

Level

Good Save

Poor Save

1

+1

+0

2

+2

+0

3

+2

+1

4

+3

+1

5

+3

+1

6

+4

+2

7

+4

+2

8

+5

+2

9

+5

+3

10

+6

+3

11

+6

+3

12

+7

+4

13

+7

+4

14

+8

+4

15

+8

+5

16

+9

+5

17

+9

+5

18

+10

+6

19

+10

+6

20

+11

+6

In this table, the poor saving throw is the same as the standard third edition table. The good saving throw is slightly emasculated. From now on you only get +1 at first level instead of +2. But don’t panic, there’s slightly more to it than that.

The class you take at first level gains a special one-time bonus to its good saving throws. For example if Fighter is the class you take at first level, then you gain a special +1 bonus to your Fortitude saving throw. Anyone multiclassing into Fighter after first level doesn’t get that bonus. This preserves the necessary +2 bump to good saving throws at 1st level, but prevents anyone from getting that bump later on by multiclassing.

The rules should be obvious, but here are the bonuses that each of the eleven core classes (and the warlock, because I likes warlocks) get at 1st level:

Barbarian: +1 Fortitude
Bard: +1 Reflex, +1 Will
Cleric: +1 Fortitude, +1 Will
Druid: +1 Fortitude, +1 Will
Fighter: +1 Fortitude
Monk: +1 Fortitude, +1 Reflex, +1 Will
Paladin: +1 Fortitude, +1 Will
Ranger: +1 Fortitude, +1 Reflex
Rogue: +1 Reflex
Sorcerer: +1 Will
Warlock: +1 Will
Wizard: +1 Will

Characters who used the Version 3.0 rules for apprentice characters (and therefore have two classes at first level) must choose which of those two characters get the saving throw bonus. They can’t have both.

So how do these changes affect Elias – who has become the benchmark of all multiclassing in the game. Well, in terms of his base saving throws (not allowing for ability scores, inherent bonuses or magic items) this is how Elias works out in each of these three systems:

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +12, Reflex +6, Will +10
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +11, Reflex +6, Will +10
  • New Rules: Either Fortitude +10, Reflex +5, Will +9 or Fortitude +9, Reflex +5, Will +10 (depending on how Marc assigns saving throw bonuses as an apprentice character)

In some respects, this isn’t a fair comparisson. Pathfinder makes Will a good saving throw for a paladin (which is something that third edition didn’t do). If that wasn’t the case then Elias’s Will save would have dropped to +7 in Pathfinder, and +6/+7 under the new rules.

Anyway – the results here are clear. The saves in Pathfinder are slightly worse than in 3.5, and my proposed amendments lower Elias’s saves still further. The question we face is whether this is a fair change or not. Personally, I believe it is. Compare Elias’s saving throws with a straight 16th level paladin (which is the nearest pure class to Elias’s multi-faceted nature). A single class paladin under Pathfinder would have saving throws of Fortitude +10, Reflex +5, Will +10. Stonkingly similar to the saving throws that years of multiclassing have given Elias.

But I don’t want Marc to feel as though I’m picking on Elias (I do enough of that in game). Let’s compare the old, new and would-be base saving throws of all the members of the Chosen of Narramac (and their hangers on) and see what happens. I have to say that I owe Marc an apology, Elias isn’t the character I should have been holding up as an example of over-twinkedness: it’s Syrah.

Arvan Walker-in-Shadows (Druid 11/Warshaper 4)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +11, Reflex +4, Will +8
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +9 Reflex +4, Will +8
  • New Rules: Fortitude +10, Reflex +4, Will +8

Brack Ogrebane (Ranger 11/Fighter 3)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +10, Reflex +8, Will +4
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +10 Reflex +8, Will +4
  • New Rules: Fortitude +9, Reflex +8, Will +4

Diablo Trent Cortez (Rogue 3/Wizard 3/Arcane Trickster 7)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +4, Reflex +9, Will +9
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +4 Reflex +8, Will +8
  • New Rules: Fortitude +4, Reflex +8, Will +7

Elias Raithbourne (Fighter 2/Sorcerer 1/Rogue 2/Paladin 5/Pious Templar 4/Glorious Servitor 3)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +12, Reflex +6, Will +10
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +11, Reflex +6, Will +10
  • New Rules: Either Fortitude +10, Reflex +5, Will +9 or Fortitude +9, Reflex +5, Will +10 (depending on how Marc assigns saving throw bonuses as an apprentice character)

Nicos Tannesh (Cleric 10)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +7, Reflex +3, Will +7
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +7 Reflex +3, Will +7
  • New Rules: Fortitude +7, Reflex +3, Will +7

Ravenna Malbraeve (Sorcerer 11/Fighter 1/Spellsword 3)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +8, Reflex +4, Will +10
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +7, Reflex +4, Will +9
  • New Rules: Fortitude +6, Reflex +4, Will +9

Raza de Luna (Monk 15)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +9, Reflex +9, Will +9
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +9 Reflex +9, Will +9
  • New Rules: Fortitude +9, Reflex +9, Will +9

Syrah Pendragon (Paladin 2/Ranger 2/Bloodhound 4/Dragon Shaman 1/ Dragon Devotee 5)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +16, Reflex +8, Will +4
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +13 Reflex +7, Will +8
  • New Rules: Fortitude +12, Reflex +6, Will +6

Weapon and Armour Proficiencies

Thinking along the same lines as the above (but this time with no intention of picking on Marc) I want to look at weapon, armour and shield proficiencies. For the last eight years or so I have been using the rules for Weapon Group feats from the Unearthed Arcana. I still prefer that system, and I won’t be changing it any time soon.

In third edition all characters start with a number of bonus Weapon Group feats, Armour Proficiency Feats and Shield Proficiency feats. This reflects their mastery of arms and armour when they begin the game. This is all well and good, but the rules also state that anyone multiclassing into another core class automatically gets the same weapon and armour proficiencies on top of all the weapon and armour proficiences he already has.

That’s crazy. The rules as presented in the Pathfinder rulebook mean that a 1st level wizard who multiclasses into fighter at level two actually has more weapon proficiencies than a 2nd level fighter. We can’t be having that can we?

I have two thoughts here. We can say that these bonus weapon, armour and shield proficiency feats are only available at first level. After that multiclassing gets you nothing, and you have to buy any other such feat you want with one of your finite feat slots. That’s the easiest solution, and its the way prestige classes work.

The alternative, is that characters who multiclass into a core class gain some (but not all) of the weapon, armour and shield proficiency feats that a 1st level character in that class gained. For example, a 1st level fighter gains Basic Weapons + any four other Weapon Group Feats, Armour Proficiency (Light), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Armour Proficiency (Heavy), Shield Proficiency and Tower Shield Proficiency. It’s quite a list. A character multiclassing into fighter after 1st level doesn’t gain all that, instead they gain one weapon group feat of their choice, and either one armour proficiency or one shield proficiency feat of their choice.

Here’s a summary of all the feats in tabular form:

Class Bonus feats from 1st level Bonus feats when multiclassing
Barbarian Basic Weapons + any three other Weapon Group Feats, Armour Proficiency (Light), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Shield Proficiency One Weapon Group Feat, either Armour Proficiency (Light) or Armour Proficiency (Medium)
Bard Basic Weapons + any two other Weapon Group feats, Armour Proficiency (Light), Shield Proficiency One Weapon Group Feat
Cleric Basic Weapons + any two other Weapon Group feats (one of which must include deity’s favoured weapon), Armour Proficiency (Light), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Shield Proficiency The Weapon Group Feat that includes the deity’s favoured weapon, either Armour Proficiency (Light) or Armour Proficiency (Medium)
Druid Basic Weapons + either Druid Weapons or Spears Weapon Group Feats, Armour Proficiency (Light), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Shield Proficiency Druid Weapons or Spears Weapon Group Feat, Armour Proficiency (Light) or Armour Proficiency (Medium)
Fighter Basic Weapons + any four other Weapon Group feats, Armour Proficiency (Light), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Armour Proficiency (Heavy), Shield Proficiency, Tower Shield Proficiency One Weapon Group Feat, either one Armour Proficiency Feat or one Shield Proficiency feat.
Monk Basic Weapons + any one other Weapon Group feat. None.
Paladin Basic Weapons + any three other Weapon Group Feats, Armour Proficiency (Light), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Armour Proficiency (Heavy), Shield Proficiency One Weapon Group Feat, Either one Armour Proficiency feat, or Shield Proficiency.
Ranger Basic Weapons + any three other Weapon Group Feats, Armour Proficiency (Light), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Shield Proficiency One Weapon Group Feat, Armour Proficiency (Light) or Armour Proficiency (Medium)
Rogue Basic Weapons + any two other Weapon Group Feats, Armour Proficiency (Light) One Weapon Group Feat.
Sorcerer Basic Weapons + either Spears or Crossbows Weapon Group Feats None.
Warlock Basic Weapons + one other Weapon Group Feat, Armour Proficiency (Light) None.
Wizard Either Basic Weapons or Crossbows Weapon Group Feat None.

A multiclassing character still needs to be qualify for the feats he is selecting. So a character who multiclasses into barbarian can only select Armour Proficiency (Medium) if he already has the feat Armour Proficiency (Light). If a character already has the specified feat then they don’t get any other benefit. A Fighter multiclassing into barbarian would get knowledge of an additional weapon group feat, but wouldn’t get either armour proficiency because he already has both armour proficiencies.

I hope that these rules go a little way to balancing some of the insanity of the D&D multiclassing rules. As you will remember, one of my goals in HD&D was to make multiclassing equitable. Well, these rules don’t do this. They’re a patch, not a solution. However, I think they might eliminate some of the excesses of multiclassing whether intentional or unintentional – or at least postpone them for a few levels.

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23 thoughts on “Saving Throws and Proficiencies

  1. On saving throws; whether or not it’s fair depends purely on the DC’s the players are expected to be able to reach.

    The ‘Superbard’ at level 20 with 1 level in 20 different base classes has saving throws that literally cannot be beaten on anything except a 1, but is completely incompetant at everything else.

    As you noted; the changes you’ve made to Elias, who is probably a relatively extreme case of practical multiclassing, are fairly insignificant. You’re only seeing a one or two point reduction to each of his saves. That level of sorceror is pretty much a wasted level, and the Rogue levels are probably less than ideal too, but so long as you’re adjusting saves appropriately it won’t really be an issue.

    And if you kill Save or Suck\Die spells entirely from the game, which i think you were, then having massively boosted saves becomes a significantly reduced issue. Boosting your saves to kingdom come is important at high-level 3.5 play because so many monsters have SoS or SoD spells which you absolutely -must- pass, failure is not an option, so you can’t make it one.

    So yeah, basically, you can make saves whatever you like, so long as you adjust save DC’s to compensate: Pathfinder monster save DC’s are lower across the board iirc, both to compensate for the fact that 3.5 monster save DC’s are absurdly high in many areas, and the fact that Pathfinder saves are a bit lower as well.

    No real comment on the weapon group change; it mostly looks like an asthetic complaint “1 wiz/1 fighter has more weapon proficiencies than 2 fighter!” rather than a balance complaint.

  2. I think that the Pathfinder game and the Spell Compendium has already done a fairly good job at nixing “save or die” spells. I’m not a big fan of killing a PC with a random die roll, but I don’t mind horribly incommoding or humiliating them in the short term.

    I’m not planning on changing any of the DCs from what they are in the Pathfinder game, but I don’t think it’ll make a great difference to how we play. The inherent bonuses I mentioned in the previous post will certainly help. Most of the PCs in the campaign have reached 15th level with no magical items to boost their saving throws.

    The changes to weapon, armour and shield proficiencies is a slight balance issue. I’m doing away with arcane spell failure, and simply saying that no class can cast spells while wearing armour unless they have the requisite armour proficiency feat. That makes getting those feats for free very important to wizards and sorcerers. I don’t really want a situaiton where every wizard’s second level is fighter in order to gain the ability to wear plate armour.

  3. Not sure about Pathfinder, i wouldn’t be surprised if they nixed most of the SoS\D spells simply because they’re one of the biggest complaints about 3.5, but the Spell Compendium, being a compendium of tons of spells drawn from many different books, contains a number of real killers, not the least of which being the Orb spells that make Wandificers so lethal.

    And there’s still plenty of SoS\D’s in the Spell Compendium, Drown, a level 6 Druid spell that, well, drowns someone, acts as a rather potent Level 6 SoD against anything that needs to breathe and cannot breathe water. But the Spell Compendium is pretty hit-and-miss like that.

  4. lol…nothing like a stranger aka WIll banging on Marc (Elias) wasted level on sorcerer and rogue…

    Will, who are you btw?

    anyhow, i had a chat with you neil on this, assuming on average all characters are level 15, and the PHB says we should be +9 as good saves go, anything above +9 is game breaking…but i think yes, what you are doing with the system is addressing balance, so i am fine…

    saying that, Syrah with the current adjustments, has ST of a 20th level character, talk about munchkin!! at least now we can all agree Raza is not captain saving throw anymore!!

    • Combining Rogue with Paladin isn’t typically a good idea, since typically the Paladin’s Code prevents the usage of Sneak Attack; although iirc there is a feat that gives Pally and Rogue some nice synergy.

      The Sorc level though i cannot see any real benefit for: the handful of first level spells he gets out of it would possibly be beneficial if he was the only character in the party who could cast spells, but by level 17 even the utility use of first level spells is pretty much nonexistant.

      With that said, Iourn comes across as a fairly low combat setting, and the DM is clearly doing a lot of tweaking and adjusting on the fly if you’re all doing fine at level 17 with minimal magic items, so a wasted level here or there isn’t going to be an issue.

      Plus there’s a Monk 15 a Cleric 10 and a Druid 11/Warshaper 4 in the party, so your individual ‘power’ level is all over the place anyway, making wasted levels even less of a concern.

      TL:DR – It was an observation on Multiclassing, not Elias, as wasted levels are not an issue in the campaign you’re in.

      • Oh, I think there’s some utility in 1st level spells even at 17th level. True Strike and Feather Fall never really lose their charm!

        I think that, inevitably, some multiclassing choices create suboptimal characters. Fortunately (as you point out) what is suboptimal in one game may be a perfectly valid choice in another.

      • I suppose in a low magic campaign that might apply, although the party seems to have no shortage of spellcasters. Admittedly if the spellcasters have no way to easily create wands of handy spells like true strike, those 1st level utility spells might be useful.

        I still doubt they’d be as useful as another level in Glorious Servitor though :P

    • INdran, I think there’s a difference between unbalanced and game-breaking. I agree that any base saving throw that is higher than the best saving throw of a single-class character (or lower than a single-class character’s worst saving throw) is unbalanced. But that isn’t going to break the game in and of itself.

      Naturally, it depends how far you take it. The ‘ulitmate bard’ that Will mentioned with one level in every single base class would succeed on every saving throw by rolling a 2 or more. That’s game-breaking. Syrah’s doing her best, but she’s not quite there yet.

  5. why not just group all classes core/prestige into one of 3 categories.
    fort/will/reflex.

    whenever you get a new level – you get the next levels worth of saves for that “group”.

    so fighter 4/barb 4 gets 8th level Fort saves….

  6. Jon: I did consider this. I thought about removing saving throws from character classes entirely, and having one master table based on character level. Classes would then be tagged as having “Good” or “Poor” saving throws in Fortitude, Reflex and Will.

    Then, every time you went up a level you would go through the thought process: “I am fighter. I have good Fortitude saves, but poor Relfex and Will saves. I am now level 8. Let’s look at the master saving throw table and sees what happens to good and bad saves at level 8.”

    The saving throw table would look something like this (fingers crossed I can put a table in the comments field:

    Level

    Good Save

    Poor Save

    1

    +2

    +1

    2

    +1

    0

    3

    0

    0

    4

    +1

    +1

    5

    0

    0

    6

    +1

    0

    7

    0

    0

    8

    +1

    +1

    9

    0

    0

    10

    +1

    0

    11

    0

    0

    12

    +1

    +1

    13

    0

    0

    14

    +1

    0

    15

    0

    0

    16

    +1

    +1

    17

    0

    0

    18

    +1

    0

    19

    0

    0

    20

    +1

    +1

    I had to alter the Poor saving throw, so there wouldn’t be levels when the poor save increased and the good save didn’t. Using this table Ravenna’s saving throws would be:

    Fortitude: +6 ; Reflex: +5 ; Will: +10

    The trouble with this system is that in order to work out what your saving throws are, you need to know the order it which you multiclassed throughout you career. A nightmare for generating high level characters and all NPCs.

    My proposal is simpler, and doesn’t produce results that are a million miles away from what we already have.

  7. When I read the start of this post I thought Syrah might get a mention. She never felt unbalanced because of the very low will, but admitedly her fortitude save seemed high even to me. Strangely though, I would say that Syrah overall is one of the least powerful characters that I have knocking around on Iourn so what she gained in fortitude saves, I dare say she lost out elsewhere.

    • Indeed. I never had a problem with Syrah in the game. I think that multiclassing that is based purely on background, roleplaying and in character decisions (such as Syrah, Elias and Ravenna) doesn’t tend to produce game-breaking characters.

      It’s when multiclassing is approached as an intellectual problem – “how can I make my character as powerful as possible” – that it creates the most glaring balance issues.

      Of course in practice even the most diehard roleplayers are guilty of wanting what is best for their character. If the options are there, you’d be silly not to take advantage of them.

  8. Neil says:

    A few comments on multi-classing.

    In a system such as AD&D, where classes are used as opposed to simply a set of skills and abilities, the underlying assumption is that the character’s formative years have been spent gaining the skills and abilities of that class. He/she may only be 1st level but that level encompasses all the training required to get there in the first place. Because of this IMHO it shouldn’t be possible for characters to gain all of the skills and abilities of a class without having to go through this process, i.e. study the class for a number of years. Of course magic can circumvent this but should be used very rarely. So, IMHO, when a character multi-classes, at best they gain a few new skills, at least initially. Perhaps as they get training (levels) “in the field” they can add more skills and maybe some abilities but that should take a while and should be based on roleplaying, i.e. the skills/abilities should be limited in scope to that which could legitimately be said to have been practised by the character. Multi-classing shouldn’t be just a way of picking up some natty packages of skills/abilities for very little effort.

    A fighter’s fortitude has been gained through his/her arduous physical regimen; a wizard’s willpower from his/her experiences of the supernatural. There are reasons behind why a class gives you the skills and abilities it gives you and that must be factored in IMHO.

  9. You’re right. Of course, you’re right. In a rules system that more closely mirrored reality, that would exactly how it would work. Characters who started as fighters would never be able to stop mid-campaign and learn magic. That rules system wouldn’t have classes or levels either.

    However, I’m not trying to create a better system. Not any more. I’m running D&D third edition, and part of it being D&D third edition is this free and easy multiclassing system. It’s far from perfect, but it’s what I have to work with.

    All I’m trying to do is tweak some small aspects of the rules here and there to deny some of the excesses of the system. Anything more ambitious than that is too much work. Your ideas, though perfectly reasonable, don’t work with the D&D level system. To be honest I don’t want to pick at that thread.

  10. Hey Neil

    I have been thinking. In v3.5 characters made gains to their saves by multi-classing, but were always penalised on their base attack bonus. If you are adjusting the rules for saves, then I think the BAB should also be looked at. What I propose is that classes with the same BAB bonus progression should stack with each other when working out the combined bonus. Taking that fellow Cortez as an example – he has three levels in wizard and seven in arcane trickster. He only gained 1 point of BAB from his 3 Wizard levels and has 3 from his 7 arcane trickster levels for a total of 4 in 10. I think that as both wizard and arcane trickster use the same rate of 1 in 2 they should be combined thus giving a BAB of 5/10. I know you may look and say it is only 1 point, but it is a 20% increase. I think the same should apply to anybody who has multiple classes with the 3 in 4 rate of base attack bonuses. Thoughts?

  11. I’m running behind at replying to these comments. It must be all the work I’m doing on clerics.

    Steve, you make a good point. And to be honest, I hadn’t considered the base attack bonus discrepancy for multiclassing. I know why I hadn’t considered it: because this issue never works in favour of the PC. And, as the GM, I was more concerned with spotting holes in the rules that allowed players to make characters too powerful for their level – not the other way around.

    I think for the moment I’m going to do anything about this issue.

    I’m not dismissing your thoughts, but I am wondering how we could simply implement them without making character generation a mathematical pantomime.

    Saving Throws do have the same problem you mention for base attack bonuses. It is possible to multiclass and get ridiculously low saving throws. I haven’t done anything about that either. So, if I do want to look at the base attack bonus, then I’ll have to go back and look at saving throws again. I’m not sure I want to do that right now.

    All the ammedments to the saving throws do is stop characters from getting saves that are too high for their level. And that ‘feature’ is already built into the base attack bonus. No one can reach 20th level with a base attack bonus of higher than +20.

    • The reason the BAB thing is less of a concern is because generally players won’t multiclass so as to deliberately weaken their character. That’s why multiclassing optimisation tends to revolve around ‘break’ levels, being points in a class wherin the next serious bonus doesn’t come for several levels, making it a good point to stop taking levels in the class.

      As an example; there’s not a whole lot of point in taking 2 levels in Cleric, as taking 3 levels will get you 2nd level spells, and taking 1 level already gives you all the class features of the Cleric. And there’s not a whole lot of point in taking less than 5 levels of Druid, because that’s when you get Wild Shape, and if you’re going to take more than 5 levels in Druid, you might as well take 8, because that’ll give you 3 Wild Shapes, Large Sized Wild Shaping and +6/+1 BAB. stopping at 7 levels of Druid would be kind of silly, since you miss out on the BAB, the Large Wild Shape and +1 to Fort and Will.

      That doesn’t mean the issue shouldn’t be addressed, but that is why you havn’t considered it.

  12. Neil says:

    Agreed that changing it for “The Chosen” would be difficult but you could easily do it for your new campaigns.

    Step 1. Decree that multi-classing is very rare and that it will only happen for story reasons.

    Step 2. Unless created by magical means, multi-classing will take time.

    Step 3. 1st level: pick X skills from the new class that the GM and player agree are reasonable.

    Step 4. If new class is additional to core class the character is just “dabbling”, subsequent levels pick additional skills as above or increase current ones plus gain feats/talents/saving throws (create table for what they would get when).

    Step 4. If new class is new core class (character no longer levels in old class) then a different table should be generated which increases the skills/abilities given and there must be a very good, story, reason for the character to go back to the old class (stamping out characters who take a couple of levels in X just to get some froody new ability).

    Please note I am not including prestige classes in this since to my mind these are in fact the opposite of multi-classing, they are specialisms. However, a prestige class is just an upgrade of the core class so in effect the old class is no longer used (like alternative step 4).

    Lastly, if you don’t like multi-classing, outlaw it! Not for current character of course! I have never multi-classed in all the time I’ve played (well maybe once but that was a ridiculous high powered campaign), it is not necessary and in my experience is only ever used to munchkin.

  13. Neil, I had just spent 10 minutes typing a very lengthy reply to your post. Unfortunately, I got logged out of WordPress to no reason and the entire thing disappeared. I have now lost the will to type it all again.

    In short: I don’t dislike the third edition multiclassing system – I like it a lot. One of the things I didn’t like about 4e was the way it handled multiclassing (a process that it is quite similar to what you’re suggesting). I think that it can be handled sanely in an ongoing campaign without breaking verisimilitude (ask Marc how long I made him wait to multiclass into paladin).

    So the intent and the freedom of the rules are fine as far as I’m concerned. Some small bits of it (like saving throws, and free proficiencies) need to be tweaked – but I think that multiclassing is one of the great strengths of the third edition game. I would hate to have to lose it.

    I can think of many examples where multiclassing can be used to enhance a character – not just to produce the best character possible. And sorry, this was originally a much longer and better thought out reply.

    • I have to say; i agree. If you’re going to nix Multiclassing altogether like Neil suggests, you might as well start at 4e and use that as the base for starting tweaks. One of the few things 3.5 does do really well is easy and effective multiclassing.

      While i love 4e and absolutely see the design reason why Multiclassing and Feats in general are so much weaker, it does make me get a sadfase sometimes.

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