Dragon Kings 3.5?



Feb 07, 2007 18:28:12
I mentioned in another thread that I don't like the 3.5 rules for advanced beings as presented by Athas.org. I think you've done a good job by the way but to me it seems gimped by the flaws in the 3.0/3.5 system specifically the Epic Level Handbook. Hopefully I can make a semi readable rant thread without managing to offend anyone so here goes.

The Epic level rules aern't remotly balenced, often make little sense and are rapidly becoming obsolete- apart from being 3.0. Several new non epic feats are actually more powerful than some of the epic feats or are virtually identical. Also the feats designed for non spellcasters are alot weaker than those designed for wizard and cleric. I reasonably sure you don't even need several classes in the high level let alone epic level games if you have access to Cleric, Druid or Wizard.

Combat at those levels can often boil down to who wins initiative as the first strike can often be the last one although at least 3.5 is slightly more forgiving than 3.0 in this regard due to nerfed haste/timestop although 3.5 timestop+forcecage+various spells is usually an instant kill combo if one isn't a spellcaster or has access to certain magical items. Throw in a very wonky CR system that often either doesn't work or is outright broken/wrong. Pity the poor fighter type who doesn't have acces to a ring of freedom of movement when fighting huge monsters or bigger with improved grab for example. Magic/Psionics more or less overpowers every other class in combat and outside of it. While Mr Fighter drools over his new feat that lets him gain a whopping +1 or 2 to hit and maybe a similar amount on damage Mr Wizard gains 2 new spells for his bok+ more spells per level and can gain access to gate or planeshift, clone etc which are alot more powerful effects than something a mere feat can emulate.

The Athas.org Dragon prc requires you to be a multiclass character and the PrC is probably fine and balenced all things considered. I'm sure most of us here know tht the multticlass rules ar somewhat lacking in regard to primary spell casters taking more than a 1 level dip into another class. The Wiz 10/Cleric 10 or wiz 5/cleric5/mystic theurge 10 is going to be drastically weaker than a pure wiz or clr 20. A fighter/barbarian/ranger/rogue combination that adds up to 20 levels an often still be as effective as a single class individual. Fighter 4/Rogue 16, or Fighter 6/Barbarian 7/Ranger 7 doesn't lose that much compared to a rogue 20 in the 1st example or Fighter 20, Barbaian 20, or Ranger 20 for the 2nd example and could even be stronger or more min/maxed if you prefer. Replace Mystic Theurge with Cerebremancer if you prefer and the example should still make my point. Most level 20 characters I suspect will have a prestige class or 3 in there somewhere as well.

I agree with the Dragon PrC as far a balence issues are concerned for PCs but they don't really work IMHO for NPCs. Dregoth for example in Dregoth Ascending 3 is CR 49. However he is a reasonably pathetic CR 49 when compared to other CR 49ish critters from the ELH or other creatures form the monster manual 1-4 when advanced via class levels or hit dice. Great Wurm Red Dragon with 25 levels of sorceror or PrCs that stack with the wryms sorceror spellcasting level anyone-CR 49 44th level caster no Psionics but meh?

My point being what works for a PC may not work very well for an NPC and vice versa. The Practiced Spellcaster/Mainfester feat is fine for PCs but often broken on any monster with spells and whos HD are alot higher than caster level. Give that feat to a GW Red Dragon and they are now casting sorceror spells at level 23 or to the advanced example above level 44. Another example would be the epic mage armor spell form the epic level handbook. Fine for an PC wizard type not so great for an NPC Dragon or slightly advanced Solar with the epic spellcasting feat.

I won't mention how broken the epic spellcasting feat is espicially the fortify seed. Its not to hard to give yourself +10 or higher to various ability scores 24/7 for very little effort or money to research such a spell. Of course the DM can say no but if I had to DM I would be saying no to alot of epic spells methinks. Mr fighter gets epic weapon focus so it must balence out right and has to spend a small fortune on any weapon that is +6 or higher.

Overall I think the Dragon/Avangion PrC is more or less unplayable as written. Its weak vs other epic characters and NPCs are either going to be to weak vs PCs of similar level or are going to be extremly high in levels compared to the PCs- the 3.5 rules are built with the assumption that anything 4-5 CRs higher than the PCs is going to either result in a bloodbath for the PCs or the PCs will fluke it and be entitled to alot more xp than they should otherwise get or require the DM to use them in ways where they are weaker for some reason- a'la Dregoth in Dregoth Ascending.

Theres little point is statting out Sorceror Kings if the PCs either have to be uber high in levels to face them (30-40+?) or they get the "stealth" nerf from the DM. To me they are the DS equivilent of Archfiends-powerful BBEG you should mess with unless you're level 18+ but should be doable and make a great campaign goal for a level 18-22 party. The Age of Worms for example had the PCs face a weak demigod while the current adventure path in Dungeon magazine seems to be heading in a showdown with Demogorgon. In the 2nd ed game it seemed you could have a reasonable whack at one at around level 10-15 and the heroes of Tyr were level 10-15 so the SKs weren't that scary stat wise.

In my games Dragons/Avangions are NPCs only and have "monster" hit dice. A 21st level Dragon in 2nd ed would be around CR 22 while a level 30 one is about CR 34-20 for caster level 30, +2 for Psion levels and another +2 for Dragon hit dice and AC etc. Borys would be CR 36ish as he has unique abilities. Remember CR 36 is supposed to be twice as strong as CR34 even though the CR is only 2 higher. I've only used a Dragon once in game and it seemed to work with out resorting to a heap of levels that drive the CR up. I think Athas.org has done a great job but is hamstrung by the rules involving challenge ratings, the epic level handbook, and the way multiclassing works in third edition.

Did I mention I really don't like the ELH:D


Feb 07, 2007 19:18:42
That's great stuff, Zard... I'm starting up a near-epic campaign (20th level) and wondering how to stat out appropriately challenging foes for the party. I've already noticed the severe power difference between a multi-classed caster and a full-up single classed one.

My campaign is called "Return of Kalak", though the players don't know that yet... Basic premise is that loyal templars of Kalak have been spending the last 25 years (campaign set 15 years after CS) trying to "raise" Kalak. They were the ones that secreted away his body after Rikus, Tithian & co. slew him back when.

The final foe encounter will be against Kalak - 25th level undead-type dragon... not quite as mean or powerful as Dregoth, but close. I thought to also balance him by removing a few of the highest wizard and psion levels... figure some things were lost in the long years dead.

I've glanced through the EPH, but not spent too much time on it yet. Any recommendations for generating worthy foes?


Feb 08, 2007 14:36:56
Download the Epic Srd, and the FAQ. I'd also go to the Epic Board to get some points as well. It will take some time to fine tune your game, if you use UA options you'll need to work out some fine tuning.

At Zardnaard: the multi spellcasting class does get a little nerfed, there are some fixes for it though. Change the epic progression to Caster increases for both on every level, and then have a bonus feat every 6th level or 5 if you think it's not enough. The thing is, is that learning more then one casting class is inherently weaker in d20, it has nothing to do with Epic. If you think some feats are weak compared to non-epic, change one or the other.

Many people have gotten the Epic system to work, it's not perfect but neither is d20. Problems in Standard will be amplified in the Epic system as the numbers grow exponentially.


Feb 08, 2007 15:18:21
Well some of the mutilclass PrCs are quite decent.

Good ones.
Arcane Trickster
Abjurant Champion
Arcane Hieophant

OK Ones
Tue Necromancer

Bad Ones
Mysic Theurge
Eldritch Knight


Feb 11, 2007 13:59:06
Arcane Heirophant is quite good actually!:D

Can't beat a combined Familiar Animal companion!


Feb 11, 2007 15:09:34
Arcane Heirophant is quite good actually!:D

Can't beat a combined Familiar Animal companion!

And yet I don't think its broken. I think WOTC designed the original dual progression classes and were over cautious perhaps overrating the threat of dual progression.


Feb 11, 2007 16:16:12
I'd agree, the Cerebromancer and the Mystic Theurge are quite weak, as doing the individual classes is better as far as Feats go, the other features balance out...

This is a problem with lack of support by WotC, it'd be nice if they did a Complete Epic or a new Epic Handbook.


Feb 11, 2007 16:38:42
I'd agree, the Cerebromancer and the Mystic Theurge are quite weak, as doing the individual classes is better as far as Feats go, the other features balance out...

This is a problem with lack of support by WotC, it'd be nice if they did a Complete Epic or a new Epic Handbook.

Well apparently only around 1% of gamers play epic level although mnaybe that s due to the poor job they done on the ELH regarding balence or even the way they done class progression. The game has alot of issues level 13+ let alone 21+


Feb 11, 2007 21:54:05
There's a huge problem with balance at the higher levels... it gets increasingly worse into the Epic levels...

Doesn't help either that newly released classes and feats are more powerful than some of the stuff in the ELH!

I'd rather see something along the lines of the old D&D Immortals gold box.


Feb 12, 2007 2:02:01
I am pretty restrictive on adding new things to a game, and I tweak things continuously to achieve a balance and game play that I enjoy. I mostly play Conan d20 out of d20 system, so in building up my DS game I tend to borrow extensively from it.

As for epic, some of it is nice and some needs work. Things I don't like are all or nothing saves, auto-hit (limited wish) devices (hell I don't like it even with the deities), total immunities, and things were power resistence is through the roof. I am slowly working out what my changes are, some thing that I use aren't in epic and so have to be fleshed out such as Class Defense and the like.


Feb 12, 2007 10:27:53
I will chime in here to say that I do agree that higher level campaigns suffer from balance issues - heck, my group of players are all around 12th to 13th level and the major issue I have is making an encounter challenging enough for the mul gladiator/ psychic warrior in the group - he dual wields heartpicks and is currently 11th level - so when he gains 12th he will be getting even more attacks. The average session with his attacks it like this "Well, my lowest roll total is 25, does that hit. Oh good, so I landed 4 attacks so that will be 4d8+32 points of damage. Is he dead?" And my rely is "Yeap, Alak shreaded another apponent with a fluffy of blows that left his foe minus an arm and a heartpick planted firmly in its heart."

The reason this is an issue is becasue no one can come close to dealing the same amount of damage - well no one of the other players I currently have. Well, this is not so much a problem as it just makes things harder for me.

My point I guess is this - yes the character is really powerful and I actually have to work at keeping the encounters balanced and the other players challenged without punishing them for the muls combat abilities.

So when I see a thread that has the subject matter of complaining about balance and the reasons stuff is weak or needs fixing, well all I have to say is this "Then fix it!" there is noting stopping a DM from changing the rules in the books to suit his desires. Heck - I do it all the time.


Feb 12, 2007 13:36:48
If you think Muls are bad try a half-giant. I had one that would deal 2d10+12 points of damage a strike and that was without power attacking. If he power attacked he would usually go for a 4 point penalty to boost his damage to 2d10+20. I never gave him magic weapons in his size, but it didn't matter because he would just plow right through DR.


Feb 12, 2007 15:43:48
For some reason combat wombat Muls, Half Giants and Kreen don't bother me. A Hold Monster spell usually takes care of them and theres plenty of non magical opions to use. Read up on the sniping rules and have a ranger type archer hide about 200 feet away from the party (-20 on spot checks negates the -20 for sniping) and have the Ranger whittle the party down. The Forest Fold spell from the complete Adventurer also gives the Ranger +20 on their hide roll. Rogues laying an ambush can also work wonders. Surprise round sneak atttack, round 1 withdraw (elves perhaps?) run away and lay another ambush.

In an FR campaign I used hit and run on the PCs in the underdark for 3 days with Drow. PCs were fuming. Also hit them when they're resting at night. No one sane really wants to go head to head with a Mul/Kreen//Half Giant.