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 Post subject: Is 3 Levels -by 20- Necessary?
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:55 pm 
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Before I get started, let me clarify that I have no issue with the three level rule for each class. I approve of it because it effectively prevents a fair number of cheesy power builds. My issue is with the requirement that you have three levels in each class prior to level 20. This rule doesn't effectively prevent power building and can even get in the way of other builds.

I'll admit, this discussion came about because my build violates it.
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When I first designed it (two?) years ago, I knew about the 3 rule but had forgotten about the 20 rule. By the time I realized the future problem, I was already well past 10. I had hoped it would be okay because the third level in my last PrC would be taken right on 21 without providing any "epic" benefits.

I actually wanted more than 3 levels in the PrC before 20. It would've made my character much stronger earlier. The combination of PrCs require exactly 7 feats and my character is a non-human/halfling. I wasn't able to take the first level in that PrC until level 19 because the last non-epic feat can't be taken until 18. As you might now realize, attempting to reorder the PrCs won't make a difference. (I spent a long time trying.) I'll have to abandon my build even with an RCR.

It's not a power build either. (Or not what I would consider one at least.) The "main" PrC it was built around is the Bladesinger. So my base is an elf wizard, right? Wrong. She's an elf sorcerer. If my character were a wizard, not only would I avoid the feat issue (wizard bonus feats), the character would be a lot stronger because of the INT bonuses. I could even focus on Int & Dex, take Finesse (Rapier) & Combat Insight, and be a melee powerhouse with epic spell casting by level 23.

She's a sorceress. Though there were other options that would have synergized better with her high charisma, the Bladesigner and other PrCs I've chosen better reflect her story.
The rule can prevent non-power builds, and I'm sure others have run into similar problems with it in character creation. So I think it'd be good to discuss the rule, see if it has a valid purpose, and/or find a better way to fulfill its original purpose: limiting power building.

For example, the first build that comes to mind that the level 20 rule seems designed to prevent is the fully epic Divine Champion. The PrC can normally get an extra 5 epic feats if you start the class at 21 (or 20). The level 20 rule makes it so only 7 levels of DC can be epic, reducing the bonus epic feats to 4. That being the case, wouldn't it be better to re-balance the class itself?

Base classes are also affected by the level 20 rule. I'd be willing to bet that the Monk class was largely considered with the numerous power builds that take a single level just to get the Wis AC bonus. Bard/Sorcerer RDDs as well with the reintroduction of the RDD. Of course, the 3 level part takes care of this, but without the 20 rule, it'd be possible to be a level 1 monk/ninja or sorcerer/bard until level 28. It's times like these I agree with the level 20 rule, but I think it would be better if it was limited to these specific situations rather than a blanket rule on all builds.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 3 Levels -by 20- Necessary?
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:07 am 
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Favored Soul 26/Cleric 1/Rogue or Monk 2/Fighter 1.

You got Favored Soul for basically endless divine spell casting. That cleric level nets you domain feats and access to Divine Might. Rogue or Monk 2 is there for class skill and Evasion, which gives access to Expose Weakness. Fighter gives you a bonus feat that can go for Power Attack, and you get free Tower Shield Proficiency for extra AC.

The above has variants. But all of them gain a lot at the cost of just two feats. One pre-epic feat is spent on the Practised Spell Caster, and you just lose one Epic Bonus feats, and in turn you have superior base saves, superior abilities, almost more feats acuired than you can handle, with superior damage output.

Builds like the above are a reason why the rule exists. The rule has its perks and flaws.



Anyhow, as for your Sorcerer/Bladesinger. What two others classes did you want into the mix?

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 Post subject: Re: Is 3 Levels -by 20- Necessary?
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:18 am 
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Daimondheart wrote:
Before I get started, let me clarify that I have no issue with the three level rule for each class. I approve of it because it effectively prevents a fair number of cheesy power builds.



Daimondheart wrote:
My issue is with the requirement that you have three levels in each class prior to level 20.


Sun, you took 30 levels in missing the point

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 Post subject: Re: Is 3 Levels -by 20- Necessary?
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:19 am 
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Bobthehero wrote:
Sun, you took 30 levels in missing the point

Not really...

It is not exactly necessary to reach level 30. Getting near enough to that is good enough on this server. Now, let us consider that one level monk on a wisdom based caster. One level and you get an easy access to AC without encumbering your encumbrance limit, and extra two attacks per round with some weapons. Without the 3 by 20 rule, you could leave those two 'useless' additional monk levels to be taken at levels 29 and 30. But because those need to be taken pre-epic, it at least pushes your final ninth level spell slots slightly later into the epics. Hence, there is a cost to be paid for the dip taken for purely mechanical prowess.

Not to mention that tossing away the '20' from the rule enables some cheesy power builds. Etc...

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 Post subject: Re: Is 3 Levels -by 20- Necessary?
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:28 am 
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See, that's a much better answer, because the previous post is exactly why we have the ''3 levels minimum'' rule, but OP was asking why is it gotta before 20 and not at any time.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 3 Levels -by 20- Necessary?
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:34 am 
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Bobthehero wrote:
See, that's a much better answer, because the previous post is exactly why we have the ''3 levels minimum'' rule, but OP was asking why is it gotta before 20 and not at any time.

Lets take the Favored Soul 26/Cleric 1/Rogue or Monk 2/Fighter 1 build and change it to follow the three level rule. Favored Soul 24/Cleric 3/Rogue 3, for example. You loose some caster level, the fighter bonus feat and free Tower Shield Proficiency. Nothing much in other words, not to mention that without the 'by 20' part you could leave the 'useless' cleric and rogue levels at the end of the build where those have very minimal effect.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 3 Levels -by 20- Necessary?
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:42 am 
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You're able to take better feats on a cleric/hiero/wm (cl 30) without 3b20. Outrageous!

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 Post subject: Re: Is 3 Levels -by 20- Necessary?
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:22 am 
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Young Werther wrote:
You're able to take better feats on a cleric/hiero/wm (cl 30) without 3b20. Outrageous!

Hierophant only requires one metamagic feat.

Weapon Master requires the following: Weapon Focus in a melee weapon, Dodge, Mobility, Combat Expertise, Spring Attack, Whirlwind Attack

War domain grants free Weapon Focus.

Thus if you roll a human:
1) Extend Spell, Dodge
3) Mobility
6) Spring Attack
9) Combat Expertise
12) Whirwild Attack
15) Practised Spell Caster (Cleric)
18) Power Attack

I think the Favored Soul builds are something far better. Less wasted feats on Weapon Master.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 3 Levels -by 20- Necessary?
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:24 am 
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The better feat I was referring to was expose weakness.

But I think you can fit EDM as aasimar. Oh, right I think I was thinking of dipping 4 fighter which the 3b20 doesn't allow ofc and tank CL.

I won't argue that FS is better. I just would never play one.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 3 Levels -by 20- Necessary?
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:43 am 
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This gets brought up QC side now and again, including recently. Generally the reasons it gets brought up include things such as:
- It's arbitrary and enforces RP growth only occurring up to 20. There is nothing that can happen post 20 to change the characters growth where class is concerned.
- The 100% RCR periods made it so that any PC RCR'd at 30 does not necessarily follow 3b20 (though if they want to, DMs can figure this out pretty easy.)
- Rule change would likely give a temporary renewed interest in building with player's RCR'ing away from 30's which will result in them playing more (at least to get back to 30).
- It would allow us more ability to play with the RCR bot since RCR'ing past 20 would no longer come with the risk of breaking a rule...
- It could potentially allow the DMs to have one less thing to police.

However, the negatives are:
- Better skill spread by spreading a 3 dip in rogue at 1, 13, 27 for example.
- More Epic Feats by taking 4 levels of Fighter or Divine Champion, Hospitaler, and some others in epics.
- Keeping CL full longer by taking non-caster progression classes later.
- Classes like Archmage and Hierophant were designed to require a lot in order to qualify in 3b20 rules. 3b30 makes these no longer an issue and allows taking them in epics for builds that are not currently possible.
- Overall such a change will make already top tier builds even stronger. While RP builds will have options opened to them PvE will be rendered less challenging by optimizing leveling splits in epics.
- Ability to avoid Able Learner while still maximizing skill points.
- Casters qualify for Shadow Dancer in epics making HiPS-mage easier to build.


I may be forgetting a few on either side, but I personally fall on the 'no' side of the discussion. I'm not strongly opposed to a change to 3b30, but feel we would probably need to put new rules / restrictions in place to maintain the PRC's implemented and address some of the concerns listed above (so I don't think there'd be less for DM's to police). I also always worry that when we make changes like this that next the request will be to remove the 3bX rule all together which is more problematic as Sun Wukong provided example of. However, as I said I'm not strongly opposed and saying yes now is not saying yes to anything else in the future.

So I'd personally be interested in hearing from more players on what their thoughts are, both for and against. Being something that doesn't really have strong proponents or detractors it is something that is open for discussion, but is not as simple as it seems on the surface since such a change would be more than just changing 3b20 to 30.

***All of the above is my opinion aside from the list, which is what I capture from various posts QC side. Even there I may have missed something so should not be considered a complete or wholly accurate list. In other words don't consider anything in this post as representative of QC as a whole, it's just my personal thoughts.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 3 Levels -by 20- Necessary?
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:06 am 
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I see some good feedback. My counterpoint is that several of the power builds mentioned here are not stopped by the 20 rule. They are only inconvenienced by it. Both of Sun Wukong's builds are combinations of base classes and don't require feats/skills. The others are still possible and just have to give up an epic feat or two. As for skills, this isn't NWN. You can't stock an infinite number of skill points and spend as you please when you want. You can only carry over 5 unused points from one level to the next.
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It's interesting how Chad points out being able to avoid Able Learner and still maximize skill points. Able Learner was disabled on another server I played on because the feat itself was seen as overpowered.

I have a suggested modification to the rule that will open up possibilities without making it easier to power build. Change it to 3 levels in each class by 21. The issue I ran into is that I needed to use all 7 (non-human/halfing) feats. This meant that I only had 2 non-epic levels left for my last PrC once I met the requirements. My build could meet a 3 levels by 21 rule easily and not be made any stronger for it. And I don't think any other build would significantly either.
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Let's look at the negatives posted by Chad in regards to removing the 20 rule:

Quote:
- Better skill spread by spreading a 3 dip in rogue at 1, 13, 27 for example.
The last rogue dip would have to be 21 instead of 20. Still not possible to maximize skills without AL and there's no other benefits that an epic level gives to skill allocation.

Quote:
- Ability to avoid Able Learner while still maximizing skill points.
I think this ties in with rogue skill spreading.

Quote:
- More Epic Feats by taking 4 levels of Fighter or Divine Champion, Hospitaler, and some others in epics.
I don't know all the PrCs bonus feats, but I do know the DC bonus feat is every even level. Since you're still required to take two non epic DC levels, you can't snag the level 2 bonus as an epic. I presume the other PrCs follow a similar pattern. As for fighters, that's a base class and not hindered by the 20 rule.

Quote:
- Classes like Archmage and Hierophant were designed to require a lot in order to qualify in 3b20 rules. 3b30 makes these no longer an issue and allows taking them in epics for builds that are not currently possible.
I've never played an Archmage and only dabbled in Hierophant as a potential build. I presume they'll get no further benefit than a DC would with a 21 rule. Someone more experience in these PrCs would be able to give a better answer.

Quote:
- Keeping CL full longer by taking non-caster progression classes later.
21 rule would only allow them to delay the inevitable for 1 level. I don't think that's a very significant change.

Quote:
- Overall such a change will make already top tier builds even stronger. While RP builds will have options opened to them PvE will be rendered less challenging by optimizing leveling splits in epics.
I don't think the 21 rule will change this, but I'm not a power build expert by any means. Someone else will have to give a better answer.

Quote:
- Casters qualify for Shadow Dancer in epics making HiPS-mage easier to build.
Never played a HiPSter in a PW before. I think just once with a rogue in the main campaign. Someone else will be able to provide a better answer than me.

A modification to 21 over 20 still doesn't address one issue. As more builds are posted, I'm more inclined to believe that the 20 rule is just an inconvenience. The only things it seems to stop is the maximization of skill points without Able Learner and having to take "useless" base class levels sooner rather than later. That tells me a better balance could be obtained by addressing the base classes directly rather than relying on a blanket rule.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 3 Levels -by 20- Necessary?
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 11:04 am 
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I say leave it alone. It opens the door to to many OP builds and the feat selection alone for epic fighters and DCs is too good.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 3 Levels -by 20- Necessary?
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:16 pm 
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The '3 by 21' rule would enable:

Sorcerer 8/Cleric 4/Dragon Disciple 10/Archmage 8 builds with caster level of 30 and 22 BAB with the Augment Form feat. Now, since both Divine Might and Shield apply to the character itself, you will be able to get the benefit of Shapechange with both feats. You do not have to go for Epic Divine Might, you can just keep pumping your charisma as high as possible while getting enough base constitution for Fast Healing III. In otherwords, you get a very competant melee warrior, with high enough spell DCs.

You could actually go for Sorcerer 8/Blackguard 4/Dragon Disciple 10/Archmage 8.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 3 Levels -by 20- Necessary?
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:19 pm 
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If enough time is available, one can question any rule. In essence, no rule is really needed. For better or worse, BG was built and developed through the years with the 3b20 rule in mind. Changing this rule, will most likely require dev work which is not justified. Changing this rule will only allow for more powerful builds. Yes, it restricts some builds - the hierophant/archmage are intented - but that was known.

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 Post subject: Re: Is 3 Levels -by 20- Necessary?
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:32 pm 
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Well... without the '3 by 20' rule, I would probably roll a Rogue 29/Shadowdancer 1. I haven't actually had a proper sneak for any long time after that was banned.

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