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 Post subject: Archetypes, Backgrounds, Spell Casting & Balance (was Poll)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 5:40 am 
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A number of people I respect have written a lot of things, often very interesting, on the subject of balance between the Archetypes in the campaign. The primary focuses of the discussions have been on the Expert Archetype, and on whether or not there should be a way at character creation (beyond the Arcane Archetype) to cast Eldritch or Elder spells.

At this point I'm 3 pages behind the discussion so I thought I would summarize and address many of what I think are the most important points. I'm tackling multiple ideas...please forgive a long post.

Nierite wrote:
The more I think of it, the more I think I've figured out why I don't like the Expert archetype:

It breaks the game. Not 'breaks' as in makes the game unplayable, but breaks the game balance in that every archetype should be balanced. Personally, I think Martial, Divine, and Arcane are reasonably balanced to each other, but while they have identity and balance, they don't have necessarily what players want which is usually to be Gods. Expert allows so much variability and versatility that it is mechanically superior to all the other Archetypes...

I've heard this before but I don't believe this is true. At this point I have played a number of rounds as a divine, martial and expert (and Tukufu started as arcane till someone pointed out that sword and spell doesn't work with Marksmanshipat which point he became my Expert character). While it is true that Tukufu is a full caster and his skills are great, its also true that he is talent starved. He does not have the Adaptations I want (he has delay strain...will get more in Tier 2), does not have all the bloodline talents I want, does not have the talents to even think about following the Weapon Mastery progression (as I'd like) or learn a Fighting Style. There are 2 more spells I want that would complete his repertoire at Tier 2. He (barely) has the martial techniques I want (my goals here are modest. At tier 2 there were 2 that I wanted). He wears light armor and knows tricks with 3 weapons. I am very very happy with his combat and non-combat skills. He casts and fights at combat grade and will continue to do so throughout the Tier progressions.

In short Tukufu, while a strong flexible ("gish") character, has never TMK been accused of being a God. I think this is typical of the Expert Archetype.

some smart people saying conflicting things wrote:
Hat wrote:
This insistence on adding a way to become a full arcane caster without investing in either the Archetype or a Path basically says that the issue is one of game mechanics, not with concept. An Arcane Archetype could be mixed with any other background with an explanation of "discovered late" to mimic the story.

Harliquinn wrote:
I see no reason why the desire to have this added (edit: an opportunity to get access to eldritch or elder casting) suddenly erodes the Archetypes, as just about every other possible combination is already allowed...snip...


Can I agree with both points? I do think its a mechanical problem (the Arcane Archetype). And I do think that there's nothing earth shaking about non Arcane Archetype Elderitch/Elder casters that isn't also shared and covered by psionics,cants, sorceror priests etc etc...

I think the mechanical problem at the heart of everything is that there is no "plain vanilla" magic attack you can make while under strain...while a "fighter" under recovery can still swing a sword. So what are you going to do as a spellcaster? Well to some extent you're going to play games delaying strain and wiping it with Fate Points. You're also going to do "other things". And maybe sometimes you're just going to delay.

Nobody like option 3. Even if I'm being effective, I find that if I don't go ever 6 ticks I'm getting bored. Option 1 is fine, but I dislike the idea that your fate score is a necessary part of your standard fighting strategy. That leaves 2. If you want this something else to be fighting with a weapon then you need skill ranks. Warrior Mage *can* work with a well thought out build, and unlike some other people I kind of like it. The only other option is expert.

Does this fit within the bigger story of Arcanis? I think so. Since there are battle mages in the Coryani Legions I don't think its unreasonable for there to be a build (for an expert or martial archetype) who fights "well enough" with a sword and who is also (potentially) a full caster. Other opinions might vary. Also (IMO) there is room for some sort of generic "Esoteric Philosopher" who is an outsider to the normal power structures, but whose researches leads them into (initially very limited) knowledge of the arcanum. Congrats...you're sort of a cultists. :P

toodeep wrote:
To my mind, arcane and divine are clumsy/poor compared to martial and expert because of their skill advancement. Experts can advance any skills (3+passive logic) they want with one advancement. Martial can advance their primary skill (attack) as well as any other combat or physical skills (#+ passive logic) in one advancement. Arcane and divine have to advance their primary skill (casting) along with two associated skills as one step (so just 3 skills), and then another to advance their other option (3+ passive logic lore/social).


I agree that this is also a detraction. Though for me the limited ability to use combat skills is a bigger stumbling block.

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 Post subject: Re: Archetypes, Backgrounds, Spell Casting & Balance (was Po
PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 8:25 am 

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Quote:
I find that if I don't go ever 6 ticks I'm getting bored.


I think this is certainly part of the problem, is that thngs are skewed to shorter tick actions

edit I had to goto a meeting but wanted to follow up and apologize for taking this off topic.

The archtype thing ... the system is unbalanced on purpose, I think it does well to represent the arcanis world because of that purposeful unbalancing. there other factors that also contibute to an unpurposeful unbalancing and one of those things is the relative speed /vs effectiveness, the slower things need to be more effective to balance out (weapons, spells ...alot of things)

you might want to have an honest discussion on what is the end result of the unbalance and what parts of it really disrupt your game experience

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Last edited by SamhainIA on Fri Apr 03, 2015 9:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Archetypes, Backgrounds, Spell Casting & Balance (was Po
PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 8:39 am 
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[Quote from val'Holryn] I find that if I don't go ever 6 ticks I'm getting bored.

Well my martial swings a Tralian Hammer and the only way she goes on 6 ticks is a basic attack given its an exceptional weapon. I'm not bored just really unhappy if I miss. :( Which is why her focus is making sure she hits.

I've found if you look for ways to help in combat or out you can. I know going in the Haakon is a healer and minion killer and that's what I focus on. Ursula is crazy about smacking people with that hammer so she tends to go in harms way, expecting to get hit, and trusting to her armor to absorb the blows. As for my dwarf haven't played him yet so I don't have a feel for how he will work out.

I personally don't feel to bad about my builds, but sometimes I wish I had better choices with my advancements. And there does seem to be a lot of experts in this campaign which may be telling us something.

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Haakon val'Ishi, Beltinian Exorcist 2.7 [Divine]
Ursula val'Holryn, Grand Master of the Tralian Hammer 2.2 [Martial]
Arun of Tultipet, Holy Champion of Neroth 1.10 [Expert]
Rikitsa val'Holryn, Psion 1.9 [Arcane]


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 Post subject: Re: Archetypes, Backgrounds, Spell Casting & Balance (was Po
PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 8:58 am 

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Hi Eric,

Good idea to move it to a separate thread. I'll try and tackle some of the sub-points, apologies if I cut too much out.

val Holryn wrote:
<snip>
I am very very happy with his [Tukufu's] combat and non-combat skills. He casts and fights at combat grade and will continue to do so throughout the Tier progressions.


Going beyond the skills here, while you didn't get everything you wanted Tukufu is trying to progress in:

1. Bloodline abilities
2. Martial Techniques and Combat talents
3. Adaptations and additional spells
4. Skills

Unless I'm mistaken, there isn't an aspect of character development you're not working on improving. Damn Altherian scholars trying to learn everything! ;)

No archetype can do everything in the game. The Expert comes closest.

val Holryn wrote:
In short Tukufu, while a strong flexible ("gish") character, has never TMK been accused of being a God. I think this is typical of the Expert Archetype.


We seem to be thinking alike though as I'd been reviewing past threads surrounding this topic. I still think my thread "Assessing and hopefully fixing the martial archetype" (viewtopic.php?f=10&t=992) is probably the best single reference for a nuts and bolts comparison of the archetypes and their potential. If people have other strong ones to reference, please let me know.

I think I may have figured out part of the disconnect between the two sides of this argument. I think a some people are looking at what specific characters are able to do, and specific builds perhaps past current tier. I and some others have focused on the archetypes from a strictly mechanical perspective of what can be done with them, not just specific choices people have made. My comparison doesn't stop at T2 where many players are now, but looks at how it plays out all the way to Tier 5.

As I have mentioned previously, I would rather head off problems early than try and retrofit solutions later that are likely to make people more unhappy when a concept they've invested literally years in is no longer valid because of changes to the game for balance reasons. Likewise I wouldn't want to be sitting at a table at Tier 4 or 5 where my character's presence is simply an afterthought with no way of pulling his own weight.

val Holryn wrote:
some smart people saying conflicting things wrote:
Hat wrote:
This insistence on adding a way to become a full arcane caster without investing in either the Archetype or a Path basically says that the issue is one of game mechanics, not with concept. An Arcane Archetype could be mixed with any other background with an explanation of "discovered late" to mimic the story.

Harliquinn wrote:
I see no reason why the desire to have this added (edit: an opportunity to get access to eldritch or elder casting) suddenly erodes the Archetypes, as just about every other possible combination is already allowed...snip...


Can I agree with both points? I do think its a mechanical problem (the Arcane Archetype). And I do think that there's nothing earth shaking about non Arcane Archetype Elderitch/Elder casters that isn't also shared and covered by psionics,cants, sorceror priests etc etc...


You're certainly welcome to agree with both points. After the lengthy discussion in the other thread, I'm at least more open to a Rudimentary Spellcasting option in a background than I was. Let me phrase my concern in a slightly different way.

If mechanically the only time it makes sense to select a different archetype over Expert is a hyper-specialist, then mechanically the Expert is the default build.

Generally speaking, if you want to be "combat grade" casting and physical combat, the Expert is superior to all other builds. The loss of spells from the Sword & Spell and similar talents can't be made up easily. You trade 5 spells for 3 ranks of casting plus access to traditions which can make spell selections a bit trickier. Honestly if you want to do well in more than 1 area, the Expert is generally your choice.

val Holryn wrote:
I think the mechanical problem at the heart of everything is that there is no "plain vanilla" magic attack you can make while under strain...while a "fighter" under recovery can still swing a sword. So what are you going to do as a spellcaster? Well to some extent you're going to play games delaying strain and wiping it with Fate Points. You're also going to do "other things". And maybe sometimes you're just going to delay.


That's not a mechanical problem, that's a mechanical balance. A fighter under recovery can make an average attack. A caster under strain can delay it or cast through it repeatedly using their best spells over and over. I encourage you to back and look at my other thread. I showed how building a nigh fully tricked out archer with all the martial techniques you'd need (7) and talents (5) is easily possible with limited investment at character creation or with a Path or 1 talent advancement getting them there. Any archetype can make that investment. With an Expert though, that's not just combat grade skill, but combat grade ranged. And the Expert still gets all of the spells, skills, skill talents and paths beyond that. The difference as I noted is that while a Martial archer is burning off recovery waiting for another great hit, the Expert is using the Martial's best attacks AS their down time.

Now, is that Tukufu? No. But the mechanics support it.

val Holryn wrote:
Does this fit within the bigger story of Arcanis? I think so. Since there are battle mages in the Coryani Legions I don't think its unreasonable for there to be a build (for an expert or martial archetype) who fights "well enough" with a sword and who is also (potentially) a full caster.


Again I'm a bit more open on this. As a side note realize the only build that allows for a player to take Coryani Battlemage in Tier 1 is off the Arcane Archetype. Unless a new background is specifically a feeder for it (Coryani Battlemage background), the need for Former Legionnaire requires it.

val Holryn wrote:
Other opinions might vary. Also (IMO) there is room for some sort of generic "Esoteric Philosopher" who is an outsider to the normal power structures, but whose researches leads them into (initially very limited) knowledge of the arcanum. Congrats...you're sort of a cultists. :P


Ok, but mechanically what keeps them in "very limited" or even "limited" mode? Once Rudimentary Spellcasting is available, the next talent is ASC. There's no gradual transition, you're simply a full caster.

val Holryn wrote:
toodeep wrote:
To my mind, arcane and divine are clumsy/poor compared to martial and expert because of their skill advancement. Experts can advance any skills (3+passive logic) they want with one advancement. Martial can advance their primary skill (attack) as well as any other combat or physical skills (#+ passive logic) in one advancement. Arcane and divine have to advance their primary skill (casting) along with two associated skills as one step (so just 3 skills), and then another to advance their other option (3+ passive logic lore/social).


I agree that this is also a detraction. Though for me the limited ability to use combat skills is a bigger stumbling block.


Arcanum is the caster's combat spell for both melee and ranged. Even without being an expert they can still take that swing or shot. Yes it's less likely to hit if they don't invest in it, but it's still an option and they could invest in paths or Sabbatical to help with that. If you give the casting archetypes full combat skills, then what's the daylight really between a caster and a Martial archetype in combat? What can they contribute outside of combat unmatchable by EVERYONE else? Acrobatics, Athletics, Ride. That's it and the difference is 1 rank/tier.

I am all for options that further separate the archetypes and provide more reason to play each of them. I am curious what percentage of Experts are non-casters. I'm not sure I've bumped into one, but my sample set is admittedly small.

I just had a thought about a potential fix for casting, though it's most likely a next version thing rather than the current. Change A/DSC to grant 1 spell/tier to 3 different traditions for Tiers 1 - 4, which is basically the same as it is for Tier 4. Change the Arcane and Divine Archetype's advancement from "Choose any 2 Arcane/Devout Talents" to "Choose any 3 Arcane/Devout Talents." They lose 1 spell at level 1 and gain 1 at level 4, so a wash there or it gives them the flexibility of adding other archetype specific flavor or the spells back in whichever they choose. It means that non-caster archetypes lose 4 spells - 2 at Tier 1, 1 at Tier 2, 1 at Tier 3. Probably want to think on this idea a bit more, but may be a reasonable change in the future.

I appreciate you bringing this up and doing a great job of articulating your perspective. No single person is going to be able to cover all the bases. I hope my contributions also help move the conversation forward productively.

With a sweep of his hat,

Paul


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 Post subject: Re: Archetypes, Backgrounds, Spell Casting & Balance (was Po
PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 9:20 am 

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val Holryn wrote:
A
toodeep wrote:
To my mind, arcane and divine are clumsy/poor compared to martial and expert because of their skill advancement. Experts can advance any skills (3+passive logic) they want with one advancement. Martial can advance their primary skill (attack) as well as any other combat or physical skills (#+ passive logic) in one advancement. Arcane and divine have to advance their primary skill (casting) along with two associated skills as one step (so just 3 skills), and then another to advance their other option (3+ passive logic lore/social).


I agree that this is also a detraction. Though for me the limited ability to use combat skills is a bigger stumbling block.


I agree, it is a huge stumbling block, and a good reason to be an expert if you want to try to do both, but.... that comes with the trade off of being horribly talent poor all the time in everything else. Is that extra plus one to your combat once per tier worth not being the caster you could have been if you went arcane? (I would present the alternate melee/martial archetype, but since your character is a nerd I won't waste the time :) ) I think that is the trade off the archetypes should have. The fact that there is additional cost trade offs (# of skills or number of slots it takes to get your skills) is what makes them unequal.

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 Post subject: Re: Archetypes, Backgrounds, Spell Casting & Balance (was Po
PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 10:06 am 
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Eric
Good thread! Paul, excellent points. I went back and did a bit of review on the thread you linked. I think you are not giving enough credit to Martial Archetype Characters, however.

From your other thread:
Hat wrote:
Arcane - casting, Prestidigitation plus Arcane Spell Casting yields 11 spells, 6-7 of which scale from Tier I through Tier V at no additional investment beyond keeping up a single skill. Adaptations within the spell ensure that the capabilities expand without needing additional adaptations, though they are available to further enhance. They are powerful in combat, and flexible with non-combat spells. They also excel at deceit, stealth and a wide variety of Lore skills. They are sages, healers, scouts and more.


I think you're spot on here for the most part. From a spells perspective, the ability to make Advanced Spells is also a great flexibility that allows Arcane Casters to make combinations of other spells (adding to their repertoire). From a Skills perspective, Arcane Archetypes can keep up to 12 Skills Maxed (Arcanum, Deceit, Stealth, and the 9 Lore Skills - Granted Knowledge has sub-skills). However, unaided, their AR is generally going to be low, as will their AV (due to not having shields usually).

Hat wrote:
Divine - casting, Prestidigitation plus Arcane Spell Casting yields 11 spells, 6-7 of which scale from Tier I through Tier V at no additional investment beyond keeping up a single skill. Adaptations within the spell ensure that the capabilities expand without needing additional adaptations, though they are available to further enhance. They are powerful in combat, and flexible with non-combat spells. They also excel at social skills, deep knowledge of religion and a skill core to the god they follow.


Again, pretty spot on but without the ability to create Advanced Spells. I've never seen the actual divine benefit of casting spells quickly (as explained in the text), so that would have been an advantage they had as well. From a Skills perspective, Divine Archetypes can keep up to 8 Skills Maxed (Arcanum, Knowledge Religion, Deity Skill, and the 5 Social Skills). Their AV and AR can be middle of the road due to wearing medium armor many times and carrying shields sometimes (Though this could be a problem when casting).

Hat wrote:
Experts - skill mastery both in and out of combat. Easily able to master combat, spell casting or both. Their breadth of knowledge and ability is vast especially given their ability to add more. Should they choose Divine Spell Casting, Arcane Spell Casting: Shaman or Arcane Spell Casting: Psionic under Undisciplined Psion they are easily a match within the core talents as any casting Archetype. If desired they also can easily qualify for the full 11 spells and able to keep up.


Pretty spot on as well. I think the issue here is Experts *must* range into either Spellcasting or Combat as Skills alone aren't a viable character. So their ability to do one or the other very well or both with some competence seems to be what the system is driving towards. From a Skills Perspective, Experts can keep any skill maxed depending on their build. Their AV is generally good but their AR tends to be lower than Divine but higher than Arcane as they generally wear Light armor.

Hat wrote:
Martial - combat. They end up with more weapon options, more armor options than the others and perhaps a Martial Technique. They likely start with Weapon Mastery in 1 or more weapons. They are physical and athletic and can be sneaky with perhaps a bit more starting Mettle. Except for navigating physical challenges, their non-combat options are extremely limited. While they can add flexibility at 2 ranks / tier, all other Archetypes have the same and if they do, it's at the expense of other combat skills. Nothing at all compares to the spell casting.


I think you're shortchanging Martial Archetypes a bit on their combat survival and contributions. They start with a unique ability "Advanced Armor Training" which really supports their role as tanks/front line fighters giving them higher AR and AV (Due to shields). From a Skills Perspective, Martial Archetypes can keep up to 13 Skills Maxed (2 Combat, 4 Melee, 3 Ranged, and 4 Physical). Out of combat, those skills may have less use, but the other skills a Martial has certainly don't go to waste. In addition, the martial maneuvers offered and the ability to combat them into Advanced Maneuvers shouldn't be underestimated for comparing to spells. Generally, maneuvers have lower 'costs' (Recovery, Speed) and the ability to make basic attacks that use the same skills as your 'maneuvers' can't be discounted. Martial characters are always doing something they are designed to do in combat and with their many maneuvers, should always have an attack or weapon for the challenge at hand.

I'm going to compare a couple of Spells vs. Maneuvers now...Assuming similar Skill Ranks / Bonuses between the Arcanum and Combat skills...

Damage Comparison
Spell: Elemental Bolt
Tier 1 (Base): Deals d6 (Primary) damage for Speed 4 (+2 Strain)
Tier 1 (Adapted for Damage) Deals d8 (Primary) damage for Speed 4 (+3 Strain)
Tier 1 (Adapted for +Targets) Deals d6 (Primary) to 2 Targets damage for Speed 6 (+4 Strain)
Tier 1 (Adapted for 10' Area) Deals d6 (Primary) damage for Speed 6 (+6 Strain)
Maneuver: One-Handed Weapon
Tier 1 (Base): Deals d8 (Primary) damage for Speed 5
Tier 1 (Mighty Swing) Deals d8 (Primary) + 5 damage for Speed 6 (3 Recovery)
Tier 1 (Sweeping Strike) Deals d8 (Primary) damage to 2 Targets damage for Speed 6 (2 Recovery)

Status Effects
Tier 1 Spells: Push (Awe), Knock Prone (Black Ice, Gale Force Winds), Stop Movement (Halt), Trait Penalties (Confound), Blinded (Diminish Sense)
Tier 1 Maneuvers: Push (Crushing Blow), Knock Prone (Shield Slam, Entangle Opponent), Stop Movement (Entangle Opponent), Stunned (Stunning Strike), Slow Movement (Hamstring)

Personal Defense
Tier 1 Spells: AR (Arcane Shield, Earthen Shield, Ward of Shielding), Avoidance (Inertial Shield)
Tier 1 Maneuvers: Avoidance (Shielding), Fortitude (Shield Defense), Negate Attack (Grasp the Blade)

Granted this is just a quick look, but in general there appear to be a good selection of similar things that a Martial and Caster can do. Now, that said, spells obviously can do a lot more than Martial Abilities but that's true of most systems. I'd love to take a look at some higher level spells/maneuvers later to continue this comparison...

John

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 Post subject: Re: Archetypes, Backgrounds, Spell Casting & Balance (was Po
PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 1:16 pm 

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Harliquinn wrote:
<snip>

From your other thread:
Hat wrote:
Arcane <snip>They are sages, healers, scouts and more.


I think you're spot on here for the most part. From a spells perspective, the ability to make Advanced Spells is also a great flexibility that allows Arcane Casters to make combinations of other spells (adding to their repertoire). From a Skills perspective, Arcane Archetypes can keep up to 12 Skills Maxed (Arcanum, Deceit, Stealth, and the 9 Lore Skills - Granted Knowledge has sub-skills). However, unaided, their AR is generally going to be low, as will their AV (due to not having shields usually).


No. Your statement here is misleading. Arcane archetypes have a choice of 12 skills (not including sub-skills) maxed. They can keep probably 6 or 7 maxed out. A wide variety of Knowledge skills show up in most mods. While they're all sub-types, they provide a lot of range across various circumstances. The typical difference in AR between Light and Heavy armor is 2 points. Spells such as Body of the Warrior grant an increase of AR as one of 5 potential starting spells. Inertial Shield is available to Psions and SSPs. Ebon Armor and Shield are both available to Elder casters. I'm sure there are more.

In terms of AV, many martial types don't use shields (archers, muskateers, two-weapon fighters, two-handed fighters). Adding a shield caps base weapon damage at d8. Useful, but there's a trade-off.


Harliquinn wrote:
Hat wrote:
Divine <snip>They also excel at social skills, deep knowledge of religion and a skill core to the god they follow.


Again, pretty spot on but without the ability to create Advanced Spells. I've never seen the actual divine benefit of casting spells quickly (as explained in the text), so that would have been an advantage they had as well. From a Skills perspective, Divine Archetypes can keep up to 8 Skills Maxed (Arcanum, Knowledge Religion, Deity Skill, and the 5 Social Skills). Their AV and AR can be middle of the road due to wearing medium armor many times and carrying shields sometimes (Though this could be a problem when casting).


Again, the number of skills to max out is limited to probably 6 or 7 of 8 choices, assuming they want to have virtually no other skills of note. Everything else advances +1/Tier.

While the Divine casters can't mix spells together, there are enough adaptations to power up the spells as they go.

Armor for the gods range from none to heavy, so an armor comparison really depends on which deity. Altheres, Beltine, Hurrian, Illir, Neroth, Nier, Sarish and Yarris all have access to heavy armor from the start through "Any Cuirass." AR and AV can be boosted by Benediction of the Gods and Inertial Shield for all Divine Casters easily hitting +2 AR and +3 AV in Tier 2 as autocast.

Harliquinn wrote:
Hat wrote:
Experts - skill mastery both in and out of combat. Easily able to master combat, spell casting or both. <snip>


Pretty spot on as well. I think the issue here is Experts *must* range into either Spellcasting or Combat as Skills alone aren't a viable character. So their ability to do one or the other very well or both with some competence seems to be what the system is driving towards. From a Skills Perspective, Experts can keep any skill maxed depending on their build. Their AV is generally good but their AR tends to be lower than Divine but higher than Arcane as they generally wear Light armor.


I agree they must pick up at least a combat skill or spellcasting to be useful in combat. Experts start with 3 trained weapons, one of which can be anything regardless of whether it's National or not. So they can select the preferred weapon at the start without an additional investment. At no more investment than the skill points, their non-casting attack is fairly comparable damage-wise to the Martial's attack waiting for recovery to end. At the same level of talent investment, the Expert is identical to the Martial for this time frame. When the Expert invests in Martial Techniques their damage during their respective downtimes starts equaling or exceeding the Martial's base attack. Remember, this is the Experts OFF attack burning off strain.

Likewise on the casting side the Expert could invest in Prestidigitation and T1 spell casting with no further talent expenditures. That Elemental Bolt at Tier 5 is potent, far more so than the Martial's base attack plus 2 talents. For the cost of Prestidigitation, A/DSC I - V and keeping 2 skills maxed (arcanum and weapon) they maintain their relevance in combat. Shine? Maybe, maybe not. Now, what do they have left to work with to contribute? 4 or 5 maxed out skills of their choice. Up to 20 additional secondary skills added across the tiers ranging from +7 to +11. This doesn't even include all of the other skills they start with. Half of their "Choose any 2 Talents" option and all of their Skill Talents. Taking 2 of those other talents can get them to heavy armor if that's their primary concern.

So, for a minimum investment they cover combat, casting - both in and out of combat, and still have their specialty area to shine in.

Harliquinn wrote:
Hat wrote:
Martial <snip>While they can add flexibility at 2 ranks / tier, all other Archetypes have the same and if they do, it's at the expense of other combat skills. Nothing at all compares to the spell casting.


I think you're shortchanging Martial Archetypes a bit on their combat survival and contributions. They start with a unique ability "Advanced Armor Training" which really supports their role as tanks/front line fighters giving them higher AR and AV (Due to shields).


It's not unique. Squires gain it. Using that as a justification, I expect to see other new backgrounds add it as well. It's frustrating. In the end though the talent grants +1 AV and +5' Pace. Nice, but not earth-shattering. As for AV, I've covered that above.

Harliquinn wrote:
From a Skills Perspective, Martial Archetypes can keep up to 13 Skills Maxed (2 Combat, 4 Melee, 3 Ranged, and 4 Physical).


No. Again, they have a choice of up to 13 skills to pick from but will likely only be able to keep at most 6 or 7 maxed. Again they'd have to make choices of whether they want all of their other skills to advance at just +1/Tier.

Harliquinn wrote:
Out of combat, those skills may have less use, but the other skills a Martial has certainly don't go to waste.


Their out of combat options are limited to Acrobatics, Athletics, Ride and Stealth. Keeping those maxed out leaves 2 or 3 total skills to keep their weapon skills, Mettle and Battle skills maxed and leaves no room for any other skills at 2 ranks / tier. If they branch out to non-physical combat skills, the chances of them having any of the 4 non-combat skills maxed out is greatly diminished. At 2 ranks per tier they're on par with all of the other archetypes. All Arcane characters and Divine worshipers of Cadic can max out Stealth. Every archetype except Martial can keep at least one social skill maxed (Arcane - Deceit, Divine - Any, Expert - Any). This means that the hulking 8'6" Might 9+ fighter can't be as intimidating as the slender bookworm Expert (must have a REALLY mean gaze) or any priest.

Harliquinn wrote:
In addition, the martial maneuvers offered and the ability to combat them into Advanced Maneuvers shouldn't be underestimated for comparing to spells. Generally, maneuvers have lower 'costs' (Recovery, Speed) and the ability to make basic attacks that use the same skills as your 'maneuvers' can't be discounted. Martial characters are always doing something they are designed to do in combat and with their many maneuvers, should always have an attack or weapon for the challenge at hand.


Changes to advanced maneuvers have increased the recovery for them. As already stated, an Expert's minimal investment combat attack (maxing out 1 combat skill) is roughly on par with the damage from the Martial characters attack while waiting on recovery. If the Expert or other caster invests in MT then their damage capability likely exceeds that of the Martial during their respective off attacks as already noted.

Harliquinn wrote:
I'm going to compare a couple of Spells vs. Maneuvers now...Assuming similar Skill Ranks / Bonuses between the Arcanum and Combat skills...

Damage Comparison
Spell: Elemental Bolt
Tier 1 (Base): Deals d6 (Primary) damage for Speed 4 (+2 Strain) [range 30']
Tier 1 (Adapted for Damage) Deals d8 (Primary) damage for Speed 4 (+3 Strain)
Tier 1 (Adapted for +Targets) Deals d6 (Primary) to 2 Targets damage for Speed 6 (+4 Strain)
Tier 1 (Adapted for 10' Area) Deals d6 (Primary) damage for Speed 6 (+6 Strain)

Maneuver: One-Handed Weapon
Tier 1 (Base): Deals d8 (Primary) damage for Speed 5
Tier 1 (Mighty Swing) Deals d8 (Primary) + 5 damage for Speed 6 (3 Recovery)
Tier 1 (Sweeping Strike) Deals d8 (Primary) damage to 2 Targets damage for Speed 6 (2 Recovery)


Ok, the above is a bit hard to do a comparison with as you're talking about a ranged weapon (Elemental Bolt) vs. a melee attack (Gladius). Let me start by pointing out that the Elemental Bolt investment represents 1/5 of 1 Talent to do all of the above. 1 and 1/5 if you want to count Prestidigitation, but that should only every be counted once in the comparison. The martial has invested 2 Talents.

There's a movement tax on the melee martial of Speed 1 to 4 depending on how much ground they need to cover to get within range to swing. It also doesn't prevent their opponent from moving causing this tax to be paid repeatedly. That speed isn't factored into your comparison. At a +5 skill the caster can autocast the adaptation for 2 Targets making it a more close comparison vs. Sweeping Strike. However, the caster doesn't need to move so no movement tax, and their 2 targets can be 65' apart at the extreme (30' in each direction from the caster). The 2 targets for sweeping strike must be positioned just right to make the attack effective.

At a +5 there's a good chance that the 10' AoE attack can be pulled off, though it might require a Fate point. At +8 it's an auto-cast. That hits up to 12 targets with a single attack. While I'd hate to see a combat where there are that many opponents that tightly grouped, 3 to 6 isn't unreasonable. You average 1 less point per attack (d6 vs d8), but hit more targets. The closest a Martial gets to this is Whirlwind Attack. That's not accessible until Tier 3, requires a minimum of investing in 3 MTs, requires a reach weapon to use it, isn't ranged and would take penalties of -2 to swing at targets within 5'. Advantage is certainly to the caster.

A closer Tier 1 comparison would be against a short bow as both are ranged.

Damage Comparison
Spell: Elemental Bolt
Tier 1 (Base): Deals d6 (Primary) damage for Speed 4 (+2 Strain) [range 30']
Tier 1 (Adapted for Damage) Deals d8 (Primary) damage for Speed 4 (+3 Strain)
Tier 1 (Adapted for +Targets) Deals d6 (Primary) to 2 Targets damage for Speed 6 (+4 Strain)
Tier 1 (Adapted for 10' Area) Deals d6 (Primary) damage for Speed 6 (+6 Strain)

Short bow
Tier 1 (Base): Deals d8 (Qu) damage for Speed 5 (2 reload) [ Range increment 40']
NOTE: Speed + Strain = Speed + reload; Total of 7 ticks but the caster gets the last 3 ticks to do something else.
Bow - Two targets; Requires the Tier 2 Martial Technique Splitting Hairs and therefore at least 1 Tier 1 MT as well. Minimum 2 talents invested. Deals d8 (Qu) damage to 2 Targets for Speed 7, Reload 2, Recovery 4.
Caster's attack is far and away better and available base Tier 1.
AoE for a bowman doesn't happen until Tier 5 with Darken the Sky. No additional Talents required, must wait until Tier 5 though. Up to 15 targets within 120' at a speed modifier of +3(6) and it's a Base maneuver. Certainly superior to the base Elemental Bolt AoE, but requires 4 Tiers for delivery. Arguably the caster at that point has a 31 or 32 autocast depending on whether his passive is 4 or 5 (12 + 15 ranks + passive). Damage to those targets is likely to be d8 (d10 or d12). For now I'm assuming no additional talents are being applied. Speed is 8, 2 reload and 8 recovery. Basically speed 10 before doing anything else.

With a 32 the Elemental Bolt autocasts a d10 (d10 or d12) 10' radius up to 60' away for Speed 6 (+8). With nothing else involved which has an advantage at Tier 5 is situational. Elemental Bolt AoE is available at Tier 1.

Harliquinn wrote:
Status Effects
Tier 1 Spells: Push (Awe), Knock Prone (Black Ice, Gale Force Winds), Stop Movement (Halt), Trait Penalties (Confound), Blinded (Diminish Sense)
Tier 1 Maneuvers: Push (Crushing Blow), Knock Prone (Shield Slam, Entangle Opponent), Stop Movement (Entangle Opponent), Stunned (Stunning Strike), Slow Movement (Hamstring)


Ok, a Shaman could start with Elemental Bolt, Black Ice, Gale Force Winds, Diminish Senses plus one other spell. With Commune with Spirits they can add Confound or Halt. So 1 character, Tier 1.1.

For the weapon tricks they're spread out over a variety of weapons and shields and have maneuver costs on top of standard speed costs.

Harliquinn wrote:
Personal Defense
Tier 1 Spells: AR (Arcane Shield, Earthen Shield, Ward of Shielding), Avoidance (Inertial Shield)
Tier 1 Maneuvers: Avoidance (Shielding), Fortitude (Shield Defense), Negate Attack (Grasp the Blade)


Shielding grants a +2 or +3 AV bonus, single character. Shield of Enduring Will grants a +2 to all defenses to all characters within 10'. Arcane Shield is going to grant AR in the 20s or higher on average. Push 6 but the attack is pretty much ignored. Grasp the Blade requires Gauntlet proficiency. The only Archetype that can start with it without expending a Talent is Expert.

Harliquinn wrote:
Granted this is just a quick look, but in general there appear to be a good selection of similar things that a Martial and Caster can do. Now, that said, spells obviously can do a lot more than Martial Abilities but that's true of most systems. I'd love to take a look at some higher level spells/maneuvers later to continue this comparison...


The difference is that a single caster can do many of the spell options depending on the traditions. It may be possible for a single martial character to do many or all of the options listed but require additional weapon training, maxing out additional skills and then switching weapons. Some of those like Shielding and Grasp the Blade are situational. If you don't have the right weapon handy - even if you have it, it does you no good.

I'm perfectly fine running through various scenarios. I would be relieved and grateful if we can demonstrate that there isn't a noticeable mechanical gap between Experts and all others, and then between casters and Martial. I'm perfectly fine making a sub-par character for RP reasons and enjoying it. At that point I'm maximizing my enjoyment rather than the mechanics. On the other hand, the mechanics shouldn't have a great disparity either.

So seriously, help me find the holes in my logic, show me where I'm wrong and help me put my concerns to rest. If we can't together, then help me come up with ideas for what would need to change to make things work as intended. I would think and hope this is something we can all get behind.

With a sweep of his hat,

Paul


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 Post subject: Re: Archetypes, Backgrounds, Spell Casting & Balance (was Po
PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 1:26 pm 
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Paul
Basically your argument comes down to Magic > Melee/Ranged Fighting. That's going to be the case in every single game I've ever played (with the possible exception of D&D 4e), and it can' t be refuted. Your arguments against Experts all revolve around the Expert using Magic. An Expert can't possibly be better at Magic or Combat than the other Archetypes, but they can do either or both at a cost of other goals. However, they *must* do so in order to have a role in combat. There are no skill categories other than Artisan Skills and Perception that aren't covered by another Archetype to be maxed out, so really their Skill advantage doesn't really shine once you put 5-6 characters in a group because with at least 1 Divine, 1 Arcane, and 1 Martial practically all the useful skills have representation.

Your input re: the comparison was wrong also. You have to compare like to like. If the Martial Character had to spend 2 Talents in your mind to get Mighty Swing (Weapon Training) and Sweeping Strike (Martial Technique), then the caster had to spend 2 Talents to get their spell: Arcane Spellcasting and Prestidigitation. Both get them at character generation.

Also the nitpicking about "Can keep up to 13 skills maxed" was unnecessary as I think it was clear I meant can choose from that many skills. Every character can only max around 6-7 skills a tier.

John

_________________
- John Bellando

Kelb'Bakari Masalio, Dark-kin Altherian Corsair, Gentleman Archaeologist, and Wandering Bard
"The highest compliment an Altherian can pay you is to shoot you with his flintlock. It means you were worth the expense."


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 Post subject: Re: Archetypes, Backgrounds, Spell Casting & Balance (was Po
PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 8:04 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:46 pm
Posts: 1278
John,

First let me say that none of this has been meant as a personal attack against you or anyone else on this board. If it came off that way, I'm sorry, and please know that the tone you're hearing wasn't there.

You will have an easier time making your argument if you can provide counterpoints or mechanic builds that highlight your points. Keeping it focused on the numbers and the mechanics will help prevent it from becoming personal.

Harliquinn wrote:
Basically your argument comes down to Magic > Melee/Ranged Fighting. That's going to be the case in every single game I've ever played (with the possible exception of D&D 4e), and it can' t be refuted.


Why not? Why does a magic using character *have* to be leaps and bounds better than any other? Why does the gap have to be so large? Why can't non-casters have their moment to shine too? And what's wrong with trying to close the true gap between the mechanical contributions? Simply accepting that non-casters are always going to be inferior and out-shone is just bad design. In D&D up through 3.5 at least GMs COULD control casters if they wanted by limiting how frequently they got to refresh their spells. In practice most GMs would simply let the party take a night's rest even if they'd only spent 45 minutes wandering the dungeon because the casters had blown their wad. They removed that limiting mechanic in Arcanis. For the better in my opinion. HP vs. Stamina is now rough parity across all characters negating another limiting factor. Again, not inherently a problem. Strain limits to some extent how frequently casters can impose their will on combats. Delay strain, fate points and casting through strain mitigate that though.

Those downtime windows provide non-casters an opportunity. For Arcane and Divine archetypes, their combat skills fall behind. They're going to hit less often in their off-time. The Martial's not going to do big damage through it because of recovery, but should maintain damage through it. Again, that's a potential window for the Martials to shine.

Harliquinn wrote:
Your arguments against Experts all revolve around the Expert using Magic.

As a point of curiosity what percentage of expert builds do you find do not currently have nor plan to have full spell casting of some sort by the end of Tier 1?

My biggest concern is with magic, yes, but it is by no means my only one. You have stated in this thread that magic beats melee / ranged fighting. If that's the case then it strengthens the assertion that Martials need attention so they have somewhere to shine. Experts have an easy way to get full casting (6 talents over 5 tiers) and a maxed out casting skill. That leaves the vast majority of their advancements and character creation for their natural focus.

The gap is closer on the Expert vs. Martial side. Look at my assessment of a non-Martial who wants to excel in ranged combat. The expert allows that character to keep pace with a dedicated martial build. That they can max out the associated combat skill means they will hit as frequently. For a martial that does nothing but martial the Expert can still get close, still have their 2 skill talents and all of their extra skills. It's harder for an Expert to fully match a martial in combat, but there isn't a ton of space between them.

Take a concept that has a fairly strong combat focus. Build it as both an Expert and Martial and compare what the trade offs are.

1. +2 to Defenses (both)
2. Path (both - could be the same)
3. +1 to all skills (both)
4. +1 to 3 + Passive Logic skills (same)
5. +1 to 3 + Passive Logic An skills (Expert) vs. Combat and Physical (Martial) - Experts can keep the exact build here if they wish
6. 2 Any Talents (both)
7. 2 Skill Talents vs. 2 Combat Talents
8. 2 Martial Techniques vs. either 1 Talent or 2 skills at 2 ranks / tier
9. 2 Stats
10 2 stats

A Knight Commander build (Leadership and Loyal Companion) means the Martial is taking their 2 Any as Skill talents and the Expert is taking 2 Combat as their 2 Any. Expert Squire vs. Martial Squire, both have Advanced Armor Training. The Expert gets 6 skills, 2 skill talents, Light Armor and 3 trained weapons. The Martial gets 5 skills, choice of Leadership, Die Hard or 1 Martial Technique, all Armor and Weapons. The Martial gets Advanced Armor Training, but it's duplicated by the background. The 3 trained weapons should easily cover all the weapons the character is likely to want to use in the future. That leaves a "gap" of 2 Talents for Armor Training Medium and Heavy vs. 1 Earned Skill Talents with the other Skill Talent covering Leadership. Born Leader is a likely add to this Build. Net talent balance +1 to Martial.

If I wanted a nearly perfect match and use the 1 Talent advancement for a Martial Technique then the "opportunity cost" to build the concept as an Expert rather than a Martial is 1 starting talent + 1 Talent per Tier. If this is your concept, it's 6 talents better to go Martial instead. But it's close.

However, I envision my Knight Commander as persuasive and imposing. I could max out Persuasion or Intimidate. The Expert can do that, the Martial cannot. I need a couple extra skills at a decent bonus and am willing to trade 1 Martial Technique or 2 stat points for it. I envision my Knight Commander as being a wealth of Esoteric knowledge so I start with Secret Lore, Encyclopedic Knowledge and just 1 Knowledge Skill. For a Martial to replicate takes an extra Talent and 3 knowledge skills, at least 2 won't get the benefit of the best ranks -5 and I start with rolling my attribute dice twice at least 3 times per scene for knowledge checks regardless of whether they're trained or untrained.

Sure the pure Martial build is better in combat, but with just a few tweaks the Expert excels in 2 social skills and does well in Lore checks especially as they grow in tiers. And that doesn't factor in taking those extra skills potentially later.

Want an Assassin build? With 5 tiers of Stealthy plus One in the Shadows, you're looking at a very similar sort of comparison.

Does every combat concept match so nicely? Of course not. But the Expert can get pretty close with more flexibility. And again that assumes that they're not dabbling in magic. Want to be a Knight of the Order of St. Armon? It pretty much calls for an Expert Squire build to get full casting and full combat skills.

So as the alternative question, with the initial knight commander build instead of falling behind by 5 Martial techniques and a starting feat, you could build in full casting instead. Which is mechanically better - 10 martial techniques or a full 5 tiers of A/DSC that can be used in and out of combat?

Harliquinn wrote:
An Expert can't possibly be better at Magic or Combat than the other Archetypes, but they can do either or both at a cost of other goals. However, they *must* do so in order to have a role in combat.


How much of a cost and what other goals? Can you provide a concept or two we can look at? With a willingness to max out 1 skill they can contribute to a combat hitting almost as frequently as a dedicated Martial though arguably for less damage. They're still doing something consistently though. At this point the entire character outside of that one skill is focused away from combat. They hit better with a weapon than either an Arcane or Divine archetype. So what's eating up all of this concepts advancements?

Let me be clear, I'm not arguing that an Expert if they choose to try will be a better Martial than a Martial or a better caster than a dedicated caster. My point is that they can approximate either with a lot of flexibility in between. The easiest way to ensure effectiveness in combat is to not try too hard to approximate a martial character. It can be done, but it's more talent intensive. The easier path is 1 weapon skill maxed out and then do casting with 1 or 2 key adaptations such as delay strain. It's the most logical route to stay involved and feel like your really contributing in combat. This build though is pretty much at the heart of the Expert's mechanical superiority though.

Harliquinn wrote:
There are no skill categories other than Artisan Skills and Perception that aren't covered by another Archetype to be maxed out, so really their Skill advantage doesn't really shine once you put 5-6 characters in a group because with at least 1 Divine, 1 Arcane, and 1 Martial practically all the useful skills have representation.


You may select any skills you want, focused in a single category or across multiple. An Expert starts with and continues to gain skill talents that help differentiate them from others. There is less obvious difference at tier 1 between characters. As the tiers increase and the 2 vs. 3 skill ranks become more of an issue, and there's more stacking of abilities.

Vincens is 2.6 and has 1 skill advancement left as a Martial archetype. After that advancement his best skill will be 9 ranks in Melee: Balanced, 8 ranks in Ranged: Thrown, 6 Ranks in Athletics and everything else will be 5 or lower. Most of the tables I've sat at, I am the best scout with 5 ranks in Perception, 4 ranks in Larceny and a 5 bonus in Stealth (4 ranks +1 bonus). I have to imagine a character who wants to be a scout will be a better scout. Larceny and Perception aren't Martial skills.

Harliquinn wrote:
Also the nitpicking about "Can keep up to 13 skills maxed" was unnecessary as I think it was clear I meant can choose from that many skills. Every character can only max around 6-7 skills a tier.


I wanted to make sure it was corrected for ease of reading. The first time I read over it I took it face value without thinking about it. It was only once I got down to the 3rd or 4th archetype that I realized the intent and even then I wanted to double check.

I expect people to double-check my numbers and call me on them if they're wrong. We should be using the same set of facts and assumptions for comparison. At a minimum we need to call out where there are differences. If you're regularly bumping up against characters with double digit bonuses then you seem to be sitting with folks that are very specialized. Nothing wrong with that. If I was playing with those same people regularly I'd discuss what niche was my space and work towards filling it. They would also then be free to back off a bit knowing it's covered. In a number of places having more than 1 person good at something is important.

I'm sorry if my analysis pushed buttons. That wasn't the intent. Again, if my facts are wrong show me where. In thinking about things more I could see an argument that your Expert can't take all of their "key" advancements needing 11 to get 1 Path, Defenses, 3 skill advancements, 2 Any Talents, 2 Skill Talents, +2 Skills (x2), Stat Advancements (x2). Arguably at that point, something's got to give. The question is what?

Perhaps you're correct and only an Expert caster is really broken. Until we do the analysis we can't say for certain. Regardless, it still means that the Expert archetype is broken because it allows for it. How do you fix it?

In the end, the goal at a table is for everyone sitting at it to have fun. If a single player / character is making all the skill checks, doing the negotiating, sneaking around scouting and then doing pretty well in combat there are likely several other players at that table that aren't enjoying themselves. I think that's true no matter what the build. An expert lends itself more to doing this by far than any other because the mechanics support it.

Again, this isn't a personal attack on anyone. My goal is to review the mechanics and see if things are broken. If they are, what can reasonably be done about them and what sorts of changes through new talents, backgrounds, paths and spells should be encouraged or discouraged.

Respectfully and with a sweep of his hat,

Paul


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 Post subject: Re: Archetypes, Backgrounds, Spell Casting & Balance (was Po
PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 8:54 pm 
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Sorry but I didn't take the time to read all the posts on this thread. Too much math/game mechanics makes my head hurt.

I built Haakon val_Ishi to be a Priest of Beltine and focussed on what makes me good at that, casting, healing, and dealing with those pesky incoporeal thingies... :) I have no idea whether I made the perfect build but I've had fun with him in play and that's what counts. I make sure I keep three ranks in combat skills as well. I don't ever think I'll match the martial build but I can hit in combat and do so relatively often.

Now Ursula my martial archetype was built with one thing in mind, to swing the Tralian Hammer well. That's my focus. I put points in other things and have used social skills in mods with some degree of success, but mostly I play her as a simple grunt. I leave the wheeling and dealing to Haakon.

Arun of Tultipet, my Holy Champion of Neroth will be my first foray into the Expert Archetype so he's a work in progress. He's got a Charisma of 4, Horribly Scarred (damn dragon!) and Chilling Presence so he's not going to be a social butterfly and nobody's inviting him to parties. He's getting his baptism of fire at CincyCon in early May so we will see how he fares. He's never going to be a caster, but I went with expert to get the skills since I see him as more of an investigator/inquisitor type. You know the "who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men" vibe.

Teonas my Undir Shaman is my arcane build. Only played him in Once Upon a Time in Metra so the jury is still out on how effective his build will be.

Bottom line is I have had fun with all four of these characters. Now how I fare at the higher tiers I don't know and I worry if I'm making suboptimal choices but they make sense to me. Basically raise attributes, get all the skill bumps I can, +2 to all defense, and talents and paths as appropriate. Seems like a plan to me.

_________________
Michael T. Hebert

Haakon val'Ishi, Beltinian Exorcist 2.7 [Divine]
Ursula val'Holryn, Grand Master of the Tralian Hammer 2.2 [Martial]
Arun of Tultipet, Holy Champion of Neroth 1.10 [Expert]
Rikitsa val'Holryn, Psion 1.9 [Arcane]


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