So the solution I’m going with is to take existing classes and whatever new classes I create and tie them to cultures and races within the campaign setting. In the process I intend to take most of the underpowered classes in the game and try to bring them in line with at least the middle tier of classes.
For a base of reference, here is the class tier listing I use as a general guideline. He does a good job of listing his criteria for each tier, and adds extra touches like calling out when a class is strong or weak within it’s tier.
My intention is to take most of the classes in tier five and six and bring them in line with tier four if possible, without sacrificing too much of what made those classes unique.
Starting with fighter, I’m going to make 2 primary replacement classes, the Soldier and the Weapon Master. I’m probably going to include a third class, something that is closer to the fighter’s generic roots, a simple class meant to be an entry level for players in pathfinder. I’m going to disagree that entry level means “functions like no other class and therefore teaches you nothing about playing the rest of the game except for choosing feats and rolling attacks.” however. That is a trickier nut to crack than simply taking an aspect of what fighters can be and building a complete class around that, so it’s being left as a maybe and that’s the best I can offer at this point.
The reason I don’t turn to archtypes for this problem is because archetypes are almost always weaker than the core class, solving none of my problems. For more powerful classes I might make archetypes mandatory, simply to bring those classes down a notch, but that’s for another blog entry.
One other resource I need to mention is this, an article I was directed to while I was trying to get the fighter class sussed out. I’ve taken this and made some alterations to fit and now have something I really like as a feat tweak.
The changes I’ve made from that article are as follows: Greater feint now allows feint to be done as a move action (I think it just got missed in his blanket changes to include that ability). All changes to two weapon fighting are removed (I feel the potential abuse of on hit effects are mitigated significantly by the feats needed to get them, especially in the case of rogues that eventually add nearly a full attack worth of damage with every added attack. Sometimes feat tax is just a tax, and sometimes it’s a balance maintainer. The goal of including these feat changes for me was to take pressure off of fighter type characters to allow investing in things that used to never see use because they are so sub-optimal.
In addition to the linked article I’ve made a couple tweaks to feats of my own: Skill Focus now can only be selected for class skills. There is a new feat called Dual Skill Focus that grants the effect of feats like Acrobatic or Alertness but you instead choose two class skills as the beneficiaries of the +2 or +4 bonus (depending on skill rank). This makes for a shorter list of feats by around 7 or 8 feats on it’s own, and I feel the trade off of being class skills only is mitigated by the flexibility of choice players now have with this feat. I have further added “Maneuver Mastery” as a combat feat that allows you to use combat maneuvers as a swift action. You must have both Powerful maneuvers and Deft maneuvers as feat selections, and have a fighter level of 10 or higher to qualify for this feat. Keep in mind Feint isn’t actually a combat maneuver but a special action of it’s own, so Greater Feint is still a good pick.
So with that major feat tweak, I have gone ahead and made my first class splintered off from the fighter class, the soldier.
The soldier has been built to emphasize durability and the all encompassing nature of a soldier’s training. It has a few different themes you can explore within the same class, that of a shock trooper, leader, or professional soldier. My next post will be the class itself, and then a bit of explanation for the choices I’ve made and how I went about making a fighter that was maybe a little less perfect at combat but a lot more competent at adventuring.