Author Topic: Cheesy builds and the level rules  (Read 6221 times)

Iridni Ren

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Cheesy builds and the level rules
« on: May 20, 2017, 12:00:16 PM »
First some background as a spoiler. I'm putting it in for those who are interested in my motivation, but I don't want to discuss the particular case. I want to make a general point.
Spoiler: show


Way back in January - February when I was leveling like gangbusters I realized Iridni was not built the best in the world: too much charisma, not enough wisdom. Someone suggested to me that good feats for her would be Divine Might and Divine Shield. So I looked into those and the word "divine" got me thinking also about the Divine Champion prestige class for her because she was never going to be a great pure cleric.

Then I noticed that she couldn't do that without an AB she would get only at 10th level. That meant it would be very hard for her to multiclass if she was turned down on her DC app. I was talking about this in chat and Bastellus said: 1) she could apply even before the AB was high enough; 2) the level cap didn't apply to Prestige Classes.

The second answer wasn't completely reassuring because I still realized that meant I would have to get approved for a prestige class or reach a dead end with her down the road. But it made me feel a little less resentful about the 30-day reapplication deadline (which is really 40 days because the CC takes 10 days to evaluate your app, and in my case actually took more than 10 days).

If you're 10th level and apply you have to hang fire for 40 days about leveling. From 7th (the first time I applied) to 10th, I actually had to slow down Iridni's development because of fear these mechanics would not be allow her to evolve into the character I wanted her to be. Even though she wanted to be a Divine Champion, she had to refrain from high XP things like adventuring and combat!

IC she spent a lot of time just hanging around the Lodge talking to people. Some Divine Champion.

Okay, that's my story. Now the point:


In chat it has been clarified that the 10 level difference rule has no exceptions, not even for Prestige Classes to prevent cheesy builds such as one level of Shadow Dancer. I understand all that.

But!!

1) A level is not a level. To get to level 2 on this server costs nothing as we all begin at level 2. In contrast to get to level 11 costs 10,000 XP (the difference between 10th and 11th). To get to 20th level costs 19,000 XP.

2) In time they are not equal. This is more difficult to measure because people play at different rates, but for the same level of activity a character will level much more slowly down the road than at the beginning.

3) In usefulness over the life of a character they are not equal. What you do at 1st and 2nd lasts for your whole career. Twentieth level may have zero usefulness to you as you may never reach it but it will definitely be toward the end.

The conclusion from the above is that cheesy builds are mostly cheesy when someone take cheesy levels to start rather than at the end. The Prestige Classes somewhat prevent that by having prerequisites and having to be applied for. You can't start as a Shadow Dancer for two levels and then switch into something else, but if you could, that would be an example of a build that reaped immediate, longterm benefits at the cost of minimal time and XP.

In contrast, if a 15th level rogue decided, "I'd kind of like something fancy at the end of my character's life," and took Shadow Dancer for the last five levels, that doesn't affect game balance nearly as much.

Not that many rogues are going to be in that situation, for one thing. You would have to make it to high level and stay dedicated to the rogue concept. In other words, I think that the PC's longevity on a difficult, RP-based server  is already a testament to not being a cheeser much more than what someone can cook up on an application.

For casting classes the benefits are even less from a cheese perspective. A 14th level who goes for a prestige class is giving up her next level of spells. Since she has to put five levels in the prestige class eventually, she is giving up her two highest circles. I don't think anyone would do that lightly to be first level in the baddest of bad prestige classes except for the character concept.

It would hardly affect game balance at all because I don't think there's any prestige class that the first level of is more valuable than the 12th level of some other class. (If there is, then game balance is already whack because PCs who are not in that prestige class must all be getting screwed.)

Another proof that it does not affect game balance is this: 15-5 builds are allowed.

If a 15-5 build is not over-powered, then it is impossible to believe a 15-1 is over-powered.

In conclusion, the way the rule would be logically coherent is to say that, if you multiclass, you cannot take levels in a class that will increase the gap between the two classes to more than 10. But if you already have 10 or more levels in a class, decreasing that gap is allowed.

There is no logical consistency in saying a player can go 2 rogue then 12 wizard, but cannot go 12 wizard then 2 rogue. Why would one be more OP or cheesier than the other when they arrive at the same 12/2 wizard/rogue build?

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Iridni Ren

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2017, 12:07:11 PM »
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There is no logical consistency in saying a player can go 2 rogue then 12 wizard, but cannot go 12 wizard then 2 rogue. Why would one be more OP or cheesier than the other when they arrive at the same 12/2 wizard/rogue build?

For reasons explained in the first part of my post, if anything, I think the allowed path is actually cheesier/OP.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2017, 12:09:08 PM by Iridni Ren »

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2017, 01:04:38 PM »
I think what they've done is trying to squash the NWN meta - things like 19 sorc/ 1 paladin or it's evil variant 19 sorc/1 black guard and the five level splash forces you to miss out on the final class of spells. This five level mandate hurts spellcasters way more than it does more physical classes and doesn't make nearly as much sense in the context of a rogue.

If I'm a wizard I can't splash in any classes at all in order to get time stop or gate. A rogue still get all their things with that set up and a fighter can still splash into 5 rogue for tumble and other utility access and I think it's fine personally, not too draconian like paladin and monk can be where it requires you to go through the CC to prestige class if you want to multi class at all.

Now of course, that means that a new POTM meta will take it's place which rarely ever gets realized because max level isn't achieved by everyone but it's way less killer than the nwn meta. Think 1 monk/19 cleric, you don't need to have platemail anymore and that 14 str hump with clerics isn't that annoying while still reaping everything a cleric gets at max level.

The PrCs aren't amazing, they're just neat role-play enhancers and more snowflakey when they're gated behind people with a long, annoying process -- with only a notable exceptions like RDD/pale master. Even then, pale master sucks in the context of playing a spellcaster.

Fortunately, I think you'll need a fair bit of levels in all of these PrCs to make them worthwhile but in your particular example: A 19 cleric/1 divine champ or 17 cleric/3 divine champ is now essentially reaping all the rewards of cleric and gets access to final tier spells while having paladin abilities (smite evil/lay on hands) with none of the alignment strings attached. The 5 level gap is meant to grill spellcasters is what I'm getting  from having ran theory builds.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2017, 01:25:12 PM by booksarefun666 »

Iridni Ren

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2017, 04:12:45 PM »
Sorry if I don't respond to everything you wrote because I'd like to stay focused :)

Many of the examples you cite are prevented with the 5-level minimum rule, so the 10-level difference isn't needed to prevent them.

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The PrCs aren't amazing, they're just neat role-play enhancers and more snowflakey when they're gated behind people with a long, annoying process

This actually supports my point. You can't get a PrC class without an application already, so (once more) the 10-level max is irrelevant. The five-level rule prevents the specific examples you give should the application be approved.

My view of PrCs (and I think a supportable one by both their name and the need for prerequisites) is they're based on accomplishments. As such, they're something a character should grow into, rather than the player thinking 10 levels ahead, "Oh, I have to do this, or that won't work out." Like enchantment, they could give high levels something to think about as their characters head toward the homestretch. Instead, if you're an 11th level whatever, your fate is baked.

The current rule discourages such spontaneous, organic growth, while encouraging dipping at the beginning with an eye toward one's eventual build.

In a real setting there would always be those who started out with a given set of abilities, went as far as those abilities could take them, and then developed a different "muscle" because they could no longer progress beyond their earlier achievements. So you have the wizard who is not quite smart enough to master 9th circle spells but has always had a hankering to pick up the lute, for example.

The goal of the 10-level rule is to prevent certain builds. But most of those builds are prevented already through the 5-level rule. What the 10-level rule prohibits is certain paths to certain builds. It can force a player down only one path in her character's development, rather than leaving open many roads.

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A 19 cleric/1 divine champ or 17 cleric/3 divine champ is now essentially reaping all the rewards of cleric and gets access to final tier spells while having paladin abilities (smite evil/lay on hands) with none of the alignment strings attached. The 5 level gap is meant to grill spellcasters is what I'm getting  from having ran theory builds.

Responding to this only because it has a lot wrong in it.

Lay on hands: it is per class level modified by charisma. If you take only 1 level in DC, Mr. 20th level, you are going to be healing maybe four points with this awesome feat. Why a cleric (with access to healing magic) is OP'd by such you'll have to explain to me :P

You cannot smite evil at all with DC if you do 19/1.  It is also class-level-dependent. If you did a 17/3 build, you add 3 whole points to damage. For that you give up 18th, 19th, and 20th levels in cleric?

None of that really is on point, though, because the five-level rule prevents the builds you suggest.

(As for five and 10 as limits, I'm pretty sure they were chosen for no greater reason than we have five fingers on one hand and 10 in total :P )
« Last Edit: May 20, 2017, 04:19:39 PM by Iridni Ren »

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2017, 05:47:59 PM »
Yeah, you got me. I'm not staff anyway so I shouldn't of had comment on the thought process being the rule being made up.

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2017, 05:54:49 PM »
The ten-level rule really doesn't have much to do with PrCs. It's there to prevent single-dips, mostly, but we've found it also forces a more balanced and organic approach to character building. As to PrCs--not only can you apply for a relevel to allow you to reconfigure for a PrC should you make the case that it makes sense for your character (especially if the changes required are quite minor), but we are fine with them being rare. Not every character will grow in the direction of a PrC, and that's all for the good.
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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2017, 05:57:48 PM »
My own personal opinion is that the rule is actually a good thing, and I enjoy it.  From what I can see, a good chunk of your arguments appear to be built on the assumption that the rule is purely in place to prevent certain powerbuilds.  While this is surely part of the idea (I didn't write the rules, so I can only guess in the end what the full intentions of the authors were) I'd say it serves other useful functions as well.

For one, it means that you'll have to do your "dip" (or at least part of it) earlier on in your character's lifespan.  You talked a lot about "cheese", loosely implying people just do this as some sort of ruthless powerbuild tactic but I think it's nothing like that.  It means that if you're going to dip rogue or bard or whatever, you do it earlier and it's a part of your character's RP much earlier on.  If you wait until 15 to introduce an completely new aspect to your PC, your character is (should be) already pretty developed by that point.  The traits and personality of your PC should be sort of in-place by now and you could possibly even be building to a close for the story.  As you say, a lot of people never even reach that far, so what would end up happening is a lot of PCs would die/get shelved long before they ever introduce this other aspect that the builder had planned for them.  I enjoy that characters have to diversify earlier on, it helps get those alternate aspects of your character's unique personality nailed down earlier instead of making drastic changes far down the line.

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1) A level is not a level. To get to level 2 on this server costs nothing as we all begin at level 2. In contrast to get to level 11 costs 10,000 XP (the difference between 10th and 11th). To get to 20th level costs 19,000 XP.

As for your argument about the "value" of levels, the reason (as I understand it) that each level up costs more than the previous one, is because the investment to improve on your skill set grows as your skill set grows.  I'll use an example to help illustrate why this makes sense.  Say I go to the gun range every day and work on my rifle shooting skills (fighter levels).  I start out making huge leaps and bounds, learning the basics.  How to reload the rifle, tactical movement, what kind of ammo is useful for what kind of targets.  Basic things like zeroing the rifle and taking shots from standing/kneeling/prone.  As I start out, it'll be very easy to make large gains in skill because I was previously completely unskilled.  But to become a "master" marksman, it will take many years of practice.  You'll reach a point where you spend weeks on a single aspect of your trigger pull alone just trying to get your shot group half an inch tighter.  The higher you advance in skill, the harder it is to improve.  You have to find new and more difficult ways to challenge yourself, and it's very time consuming.

Now add to that, I want to cross class into something-  I not only have to continue training to maintain my marksmanship to the level that I've managed to train it to (we'll say 8 fighter levels), but I also want to become a rockstar.  So I spend 9 hours at the gun range every day just to avoid getting worse (all skills are perishable, after all), and then in my free time where I'd normally be bettering myself at the range, I now teach myself the basics of how to play guitar.  So you're not JUST learning the information that a level 1 bard would learn.  You're also maintaining your skills as a level 8 fighter, and practicing everything associated with that.

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2) In time they are not equal. This is more difficult to measure because people play at different rates, but for the same level of activity a character will level much more slowly down the road than at the beginning.

I'm not sure what the first statement means, but the second one is mostly covered with my points above I feel.  Mastering something (reaching the higher levels in a class) should take a lot more time and effort to do than becoming an amateur.  Another analogy is the runner or weightlifter who used to be out of shape.  When he's very overweight, he loses weight and makes big gains very quickly because it's easy.  But to refine your physique to bodybuilder competition or competitive marathon runner practice, it's going to take a lot more dedication.  This makes logical sense to me.

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3) In usefulness over the life of a character they are not equal. What you do at 1st and 2nd lasts for your whole career. Twentieth level may have zero usefulness to you as you may never reach it but it will definitely be toward the end.

I think everyone will agree with you here.  What you do early on in your build stays with you for longer, correct.  Learning to read when you're 5 years old will be useful to you for a longer percentage of your life than learning how to drive at 16 years old.  That's why you learn it when you're 5, and not 80.  That's just a fact of builds, and why you try to take your most useful abilities as early as you can.  Though this is something entirely up to the builder and when he wants certain things, I don't think it's really fair to compare it to "cheese", which sort of feels like you think most people just take classes or feats purely to maximize mechanical power and not to portray a character. 


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It would hardly affect game balance at all because I don't think there's any prestige class that the first level of is more valuable than the 12th level of some other class.

RDD and Pale Master both get an AC bonus at level 1, Dwarven defender gets Defensive Stance at 1, Blackguard and assassin get Use Poison at 1, and Champion of Torm gets Lay on Hands.  Most of these classes also get something equally or more cool at 2.  By comparison, rogues and fighters don't get anything special at 12.  And Bard, Cleric, Paladin, Ranger, Sorc and Wizard just get the same spell related progression they get with every other level up.  That being said, I don't think this rule is purely an issue of "balance."

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Another proof that it does not affect game balance is this: 15-5 builds are allowed.

If a 15-5 build is not over-powered, then it is impossible to believe a 15-1 is over-powered.

In conclusion, the way the rule would be logically coherent is to say that, if you multiclass, you cannot take levels in a class that will increase the gap between the two classes to more than 10. But if you already have 10 or more levels in a class, decreasing that gap is allowed.

There is no logical consistency in saying a player can go 2 rogue then 12 wizard, but cannot go 12 wizard then 2 rogue. Why would one be more OP or cheesier than the other when they arrive at the same 12/2 wizard/rogue build?

Again, this is basing everything on the assumption that this rule is in place solely to lower the "power" of available builds, which doesn't seem correct in my own opinion.  I don't think it's so much a matter of power builds as it is keeping your character to a logical progression.  As stated earlier, we know that the skill required to become exceptional in a class is much more than the introduction level skills.  So it's reasonable to believe that after a certain threshold (say, level 10) a character no longer has the time, energy, mental focus, or whatever else to take up learning an entirely new field of study.  He/she is so far along in their original path, that it takes all of their study or training time just to maintain and improve on those skills.  To me that at least makes sense, even if you don't necessarily agree that this is the way things should be.  Someone who has taken 2 rogue before they reach 12 wizard has at least some small background in rogue skills.  Something they can go back to and build upon.  These skills have been with them for a time already.  It's a little different than a level 12 wizard who's never studied stealth, lockpicking, or traps a day in his life suddenly deciding that he's going to get into the business.  That wizard has already achieved 12 levels worth of wizard skill, he needs to keep up with those studies and maintain those skills, and that's going to take a lot of time and energy that won't allow him to enter an entirely new field of study like someone who doesn't have all those abilities to keep honed and spells/rituals to memorize.

Tl;Dr - I don't think this is entirely about cheese or power builds, there are other reasons for the rule that make logical sense to me.  I personally enjoy this rule and how it makes you introduce the various aspects of your character earlier on rather than later at a point you may never reach.

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2017, 06:07:48 PM »
Legion raises an important point--it's often that a one-level dip is for purely power reasons and is not roleplayed as an aspect of the character. This rule means that any new direction in the character's development should be a substantial one.
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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2017, 06:32:53 PM »
Just a general note:

The ten level rule when applied to prestige classes means a low AB class like wizard or sorcerer can never be a divine champion or dwarven defender no matter how RP appropriate until level 18 since they'd have to be able to take 14 levels in wizard or sorcerer to take their prestige class, then immediately take 4 in that class to avoid breaking the rule-something I'm sure would likely be categorically denied for RPing reasons. "Oh, yes, I'm sure your faith was strong enough to immediately go from no divine power to 4 levels of it while simultaneously losing 2 or 3 circles of spells." Dwarven Defender isn't the most RP valid for a mage anyway, but this makes mage divine champions of mystra somewhat absurd. This also feeds into legion's point: it delays the manifestation of these aspects of characters for an additional four levels.

Same goes for blackguard and (strangely) arcane archer, though the requirement is somewhat lower, level 14 for +6 AB from 12 mage levels and 2 immediate levels of arcane archer to avoid breaking the ten level rule.

Since we have the five level minimum for prestige classes and you can't take more than 10 levels in them anyway, I don't really see the point in applying the ten level spread rule to prestige classes, something that tends to develop somewhat late in character development though not at the very end. It's always going to be within ten levels of all other classes eventually anyway.
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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2017, 10:56:15 PM »
My own personal opinion is that the rule is actually a good thing, and I enjoy it.

How can one "enjoy it"? That's a sort of baffling assertion without explanation in this specific instance.I could try to guess, but I don't want to put words in your mouth.

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From what I can see, a good chunk of your arguments appear to be built on the assumption that the rule is purely in place to prevent certain powerbuilds.  While this is surely part of the idea (I didn't write the rules, so I can only guess in the end what the full intentions of the authors were) I'd say it serves other useful functions as well.

My arguments are based on the rule's given justifications. How else should I respond?

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For one, it means that you'll have to do your "dip" (or at least part of it) earlier on in your character's lifespan.

RP is in no way synonymous with "dipping." It makes no more inherent sense to say a character development goes 2+10, then 10+2, as I already said. This is a mechanical argument that has no basis in RP. It is just as easy to have a character RP fiddling around for a couple of levels as rogue and then suddenly transforming into a mage as to have a mage for several levels who later in life--perhaps because of not having the intelligence to master high-level spells--deciding she will apply that intelligence to things like lock-picking.

Given the compression of time on the server, it's even less valid to make such a distinction as almost all PCs have "lifespans" on the server in the single digits.

Certainly there's nothing magical about the number 10. And regarding PrC, then why would you have prerequisites? Once more, a cleric cannot even take a level in DC before 10th. There is no possibility of early "dipping," which, aside from the mechanical perspective, demonstrates the game designers didn't share your view that characters should "from conception" know everything they might do eventually in life.

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I'm not sure what the first statement means, but the second one is mostly covered with my points above I feel.  Mastering something (reaching the higher levels in a class) should take a lot more time and effort to do than becoming an amateur.  Another analogy is the runner or weightlifter who used to be out of shape.  When he's very overweight, he loses weight and makes big gains very quickly because it's easy.  But to refine your physique to bodybuilder competition or competitive marathon runner practice, it's going to take a lot more dedication.  This makes logical sense to me.

Pelor almighty! Do you think I'm arguing that levels should all require the same XP? No, I'm pointing out that dipping is on the cheap at low levels and highly costly at high levels. That's why rewarding it at low levels and forbidding it at high makes no sense in terms of the stated goal of the rule.

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So it's reasonable to believe that after a certain threshold (say, level 10) a character no longer has the time, energy, mental focus, or whatever else to take up learning an entirely new field of study.

This goes against what you earlier said and against the XP cost associated with leveling.

Assume a 12th level wizard PC. She needs 12,000 XP to go to 13th level. She can expend those XP to become a 13th level wizard or a 12th level wizard/1st level rogue.  Do you honestly believe if she expends 12 times the amount of XP to achieve that, she can't possibly master those basic skills? It boggles all common sense to think that advancing the extra level in wizard is easier then picking up the basics of being a rogue when the XP cost is so disparate.

I'll leave aside that the 1st level rogue gets 4 times as many skill points as the 12th level wizard will get for her 12 times as many XP because that's true only in this specific example. But this is why I say a level isn't a level. The higher you are when you make your dip, the more XP (and time) you have to expend to get the same reward as the lower level dip would have cost.

Your argument about "maintaining" current skill has no IG basis. There is nothing in game requiring us to do anything to keep our skills from rusting. If that's how you like to RP, fine, but don't force your interpretation on me :)

Legion raises an important point--it's often that a one-level dip is for purely power reasons and is not roleplayed as an aspect of the character.

Ummm...I think he kinda said the opposite. He multiple times said my view was limited about the rule as far as cheesing and (to quote his actual words):  "Again, this is basing everything on the assumption that this rule is in place solely to lower the 'power' of available builds, which doesn't seem correct in my own opinion."

Regarding re-leveling, that's a cure that's worse than what the rule is supposed to prevent. If the goal is that the character RP excellently throughout her gamespan and develop organically, then deus ex machina fixing her isn't an optimal solution.

As for PrCs being rare, this rule has no correlation with that goal--a goal easily achieved by the application process, anyway. However rare the CC thinks they should be, the CC has absolute power to make that happen.

This rule, instead, forces players who want to do a PrC to go about it a certain mechanical way, but it can't by itself stop anyone from getting the class. Anyone can plan ahead. And if they don't, as you point out, they can ask for a re-level.

The major effect the rule accomplishes is making level accumulation follow a prescribed pattern, which isn't demonstrably better than any other pattern, for arriving at the same destination.

The real reason to support this rule is if you believe at level 11 all characters who have focused on one class should stop being able to go in a new direction. (I think it's fair to read Legion as saying he believes that.) If you support the rule for other reasons, those reasons are generally unnecessary as other means are in place to enforce them more effectively.

Many times I've read the high-uppities here say players focus too much on builds and should let their characters go where they will. It's a mixed message , then, to say halfway through your levels (and much less than halfway through your career), you can't make a career move to try something different.

Because no one addressed this, I'll repeat it: Prestige classes should not be only the ambition of a brand-new character. They should be something to shoot for when a high level starts looking for something to cap her career with. I don't think it would happen that much, actually, because (as I keep demonstrating) the tradeoffs mechanically aint that great for a high level versus a low. But it would provide character motivation, a goal, etc.....the things that make for dynamic RP, rather than the static view of character Legion embraces.

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2017, 11:10:42 PM »
A side-note here,

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There is no logical consistency in saying a player can go 2 rogue then 12 wizard, but cannot go 12 wizard then 2 rogue.

Something you can ask the DM team is if you can have levels removed so you can be level 10 again specifically for this purpose. Once an apprentice of one of my characters went all the way back down to level 2, so he could give up everything he thought he knew and start learning magic. It can make for a really good story.

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2017, 03:00:09 AM »
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How can one "enjoy it"? That's a sort of baffling assertion without explanation in this specific instance.I could try to guess, but I don't want to put words in your mouth.
No mystery to it, I just like the rule being in place and I think it serves a good purpose.  We have a difference of opinions is all, nothing wrong with that.  I personally don't get why people like orange chicken and spring rolls but I acknowledge that it's possible!  :lol:


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It makes no more inherent sense to say a character development goes 2+10, then 10+2, as I already said.
Wrote a paragraph or two on this already, there is a difference.  I know it's easy to just rotate the numbers back and forth and say "but they both add up to 12" but that's conveniently ignoring half the argument presented.

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almost all PCs have "lifespans" on the server in the single digits
I feel like this particular 'statistic' is up for debate at least.  The level 10-12 range is very attainable even for the casual player, and certainly I wouldn't say "almost all" players are below level 10.  A while back, Soren ran the average level for various areas and I think even the Outskirts (where all the new level 2s pass through) was 12.

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Certainly there's nothing magical about the number 10
I'm sure they could have just as easily picked 5 or 15, yes.  Gotta pick a number somewhere, might as well be 10.  That's the thing with drawing lines-  you could always have drawn it slightly left or right.  If it was 15, there'd be a whole separate group of people upset about that, I'm sure.

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Pelor almighty!
jesus christ

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I'm pointing out that dipping is on the cheap at low levels and highly costly at high levels. That's why rewarding it at low levels and forbidding it at high makes no sense in terms of the stated goal of the rule.
I don't really understand what you're getting at here.  Low levels are cheaper, yes.  You can either choose to use those cheap, quick levels to diversify your skills/abilities by multiclassing or you can choose to rapidly progress in a single main class.  It's not "rewarding" or "punishing" one playstyle over another.  It's literally just you picking what you want out of a build.  Do you want 2 classes worth of abilities but only half the progression in each, or do you want 1 class and twice the progression?  There's nothing broken about that system, it's a pure give and take.  One is not inherently more "powerful" than the other.


 
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There is nothing in game requiring us to do anything to keep our skills from rusting. If that's how you like to RP, fine, but don't force your interpretation on me :)

Hop up LeBron, there's also not a system in place forcing you to eat, drink, or have bowel movements but that doesn't mean your character is an alien that doesn't need to do that.  As a matter of fact, I have PCs that haven't eaten a food item in years.  They just cast healing spells when injured before resting.  I'm not forcing you to do anything.  I'm just saying, you made the claim that this is some ridiculous restriction with NO POSSIBLE IC JUSTIFICATION  :x and I'm saying there is a completely realistic and IC way to look at this, if you are interested.  My opinion isn't the end-all "way it is", it's just something I presented for anyone else to look at, maybe nod their head once and go "hey that makes sense."  Because it does.  You don't have to agree with me, but it's not fair to say that your way is the only logical way to look at something either.

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Because no one addressed this, I'll repeat it: Prestige classes should not be only the ambition of a brand-new character. They should be something to shoot for when a high level starts looking for something to cap her career with.
This is your opinion, which is fine.  Not sure how anyone is supposed to "address" it though.  Personally I think characters should have their classes within 10 levels of each other because I feel like ignoring the RP of that second class until post-level-15 is kind of lame.  There's nothing wrong with that opinion either, neither of us are going to be "right" or "wrong" here.  I feel like we've both sort of made our points as to why each side has ups and downs. 

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the things that make for dynamic RP, rather than the static view of character Legion embraces.
It's not really fair to suggest that this rule is either "side with me and enjoy dynamic RP" or "disagree with me and enjoy BORING STATIC characters."  This whole discussion is way more complex than that, and I feel like you grasp that.  So if you're wanting to be taken seriously, the best thing you can do is take alternate view points seriously too. 

Again, my personal opinion here is that the rule is a good thing and it forces you to actually RP the various classes and aspects of your PC earlier on (just the classes, not saying you have to have a static personality or never change or grow as a character) rather than waiting until after level 15 to suddenly tell everyone your hardcore fighter "has always been interested in magic" and then slap down 5 wizard levels.

BahamutZ3RO

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2017, 10:12:50 AM »
I think the rule is an important part of balancing the server. If you've already got a bunch of levels and want to multiclass, you can app for a relevel and take 'em. It's not the end of the world.

As for splitting levels early being "rewarding", I find it's actually the opposite. You're really strained to do anything well if you split your levels early. A level 2 rogue/1 wizard has none of the duration or usefulness of a level 3 wizard and can't open most chests or sneak very well yet.

I'd also point out that these rules aren't that limiting. I have a lot of PrC characters, some of them happened very organically and I didn't plan around them.

A line had to be drawn somewhere, this was as good a place as any. It has negligible effect on people's builds and keeps the wacky stuff from happening.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2017, 10:20:05 AM by BahamutZ3RO »
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TheGrinningHound

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2017, 01:29:07 PM »
If you wanted a Mystran Divine Champion spellblade (I assume spellblade because DC is basically fighter with candy), you could do something like 12 Wizard/2 Fighter/6 DC. Take the first 12 levels as 10 wizard and 2 fighter, and then start taking Divine Champion levels.

The rules currently impact the PoTM build meta in these ways:
- Multiclassing into only one other class becomes a more neutral blend of both classes. If you're trying to get the most out of one class, but only a few skills out of another, you're going to have wasted levels: 15/5 builds are ill-optimized-- 14/6 or 12/8 are usually better. You're not going to be multiclassing as one-off dump classes, unless...

- You triple multiclass, and keep the base class at a low number. But then you sacrifice getting 12+ levels in a main class for those benefits. This is a give and take, basically. If you want skill dump classes, you're probably going to need to multiclass-- and it'll either end up as a poorly optimized build, or you'll really optimize it, but never reach the fullest potential of any one class.

- Books is also right about this affecting spellcasters more than the natural fighter/rogue or ranger/fighter/rogue combinations. I found this to be a really cool thing. It means that if you're up against a super powerful mage, he's probably got distinct vulnerabilities due to a lack of multiclassing, as well. It was a neat balancing factor.

All in all, I support the effects of the current ruling. I  do find that it's sometimes hard to understand, especially for newer players. It took me a long time to understand what exactly they meant-- whether I had to have no classes greater than 10 levels apart at the end of my build, or all throughout. And I know that it also requires a bit more foresight in character development, especially if you're into optimizing builds. You can stumble into a multiclass or PrC with organic, natural Rp, but it has to happen soon in the story rather than later. So I can understand that frustration, at least.

The good news, like has been said in the very same chat conversation you referenced, as well as here by a number of staff: you can request a remake in order to reconfigure levels to make acquiring a new PrC (Or even another base class, probably) within the rules. It's not guaranteed to pass, but it's completely available. It follows the same general guidelines as other remake requests: the later it happens in the character's development, the harder it will be to pass.




*Also, the rule about any prestige class needing at least 5 levels is probably to directly prevent 1 level of Shadowdancer cheese, and nothing more. No other PrC gives its best benefit (Also arguable one of the best feats in the game) at 1st level.

TheGrinningHound

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2017, 01:39:31 PM »
Ultimately, it's a conflict of mechanical server balance vs ease of organic roleplay development.

As a guy who builds a lot, and is a sucker for mechanics, I've never had mechanical designs for characters get in the way of my feeling that they had natural development. But I do understand that others might feel this. So I end up standing in support of keeping it still, if only because I do really enjoy the mechanical balance it brings moreso than I am frustrated at the inconvenience of its application.

Exordium

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2017, 03:12:46 PM »
To shed some light on the meta of the ol' past days of action & arena fun, these were some common and arguably quite cheesy multiclass tactics people used:

1 level of Shadowdancer for HiPS
1 level of wizard/cleric/etc for a fighter-based build to cast scrolls
1 level of paladin for save throw bonuses
1 level of monk for evasion/cleave/etc
2-4 levels of bard to grab skills & bard song
2-4 levels of rogue to grab skills & sneak

On our server, paladins and monks can't multiclass outside PrCs so this is partially solved in regards of them. I suppose it's not without merit to ask if this rule has become redundant as those action/arena days are all but gone by now and not so many NWN players aggressively prioritize powerbuilding. But it's also worth it to ask if changing this rule would add to roleplay meaningfully. Personally, I doubt it.

About allowing picking levels that lower the gap - I think it's decently common for people to aim their builds to be "finished" before level 20. So, people would still go for those builds of 15 fighter 1 wizard.

As it stands, you can ask for a rebuild if you'd like a multiclass scheme that your level progression has made impossible.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 03:25:21 PM by Exordium »

Iridni Ren

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2017, 03:31:56 PM »
1) Legion's assertion about not starting something late in life is not an accurate characterization of the present rules. You can do it...if you have started two careers already.

Legion rationalizes:

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It's reasonable to believe that after a certain threshold (say, level 10) a character no longer has the time, energy, mental focus, or whatever else to take up learning an entirely new field of study.

Then why can I take up something entirely new all the way to 16th level? I can go 10-5-5 and start my third class when I'm 16th. That a character can begin a third completely different class at 16th level proves beyond any debate that a character is capable of learning something new after 10th level.

2) To list the paths that are specifically prohibited only by this rule:

12 1 (versus 12-2)
13 1
14 1
15 1

13 2 (versus 13-3)
14 2
15 2

14 3 (versus 14-4)
15 3

15 4 (versus 15-5)

That's it. For all the defense of the rule and how one "enjoys" it, only 10 paths are eliminated by it--and of those,  only 6 are more than 1 level difference from paths that are allowed. Why those paths are chosen as OP, cheesy, and forbidden to a character regardless of the classes involved seems pretty arbitrary.

If the rule worked as I've described:

* You must still take at least five levels in any class your character dips into.

* If you have a 10-level gap between your classes, your levelup must reduce rather than increase that gap.

Then all of the above situations would be temporary paths and revert to existing, approved builds over time.

The rule's major effect is to prevent late multi-classing. But again this is proved to have no rational basis and to be an arbitrary mechanic because you can multi-class late, if you take three classes. Adding a third class forces your character to do something not necessarily supported by character development but with an eye purely toward eventual build. Why should a character stick on weird levels in a third class just so she can take the second class she actually wants as part of her development later?

3) Re-leveling: Alright, so a new player doesn't know about this in-house rule and accidentally goes to 12th before taking her first in her second class. She can apply for a re-level and fix it by dipping earlier on the re-level. But if that's okay, why the prohibition in the first place?

The rationale for the long approval process and other delays of so many things the DMs and CC are responsible for is that they are busy. Then why add to their workload and have more complex, arbitrary rules than are necessary? Why not make everyone's life easier by keeping only those rules that are clearly beneficial to the player experience?

A good rule should encourage the development of a variety of good characters and character journeys. This rule doesn't accomplish that at all and generally has the opposite effect. Given the server's other rules, its other possible benefit of improving game balance is minimal.

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Exordium

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2017, 03:37:00 PM »
3) Re-leveling: Alright, so a new player doesn't know about this in-house rule and accidentally goes to 12th before taking her first in her second class. She can apply for a re-level and fix it by dipping earlier on the re-level. But if that's okay, why the prohibition in the first place?
Aside of balance issues - which I would say to be dire enough to greatly promote certain builds - the idea of the rule is to encourage certain kind of approach to playing on PoTM. There's arguably a burden of history to it.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 03:42:50 PM by Exordium »

Iridni Ren

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2017, 03:43:29 PM »
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About allowing picking levels that lower the gap - I think it's decently common for people to aim their builds to be "finished" before level 20. So, people would still go for those builds of 15 fighter 1 wizard.

In previous posts I've argued why this is a fear without much of a foundation. A 1+15 build might have some appeal, but if a character is already 15th, she is quite powerful to take a first level in something else.

She has to trade 16th level in her existing class for 1st level in another. If that is a good trade, then 1st level in the other class is clearly over-powered already.

Secondly, if 1st level in this second class is a prestige class, it will require approval. So it is policed through an already existing mechanism.

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Iridni Ren

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2017, 03:49:00 PM »
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Aside of balance issues - which I would say to be dire enough to greatly promote certain builds

Once more, which builds? It blocks paths, not builds.

Let's say your hypothetical 15-1 build is OP and would wreck everything.

Then a much more powerful form of it exists as a 15-5 build that *is* allowed. True, it takes longer to get there, but the rule by itself won't stop anyone from building it.

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Exordium

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2017, 03:54:47 PM »
She has to trade 16th level in her existing class for 1st level in another. If that is a good trade, then 1st level in the other class is clearly over-powered already.
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Aside of balance issues - which I would say to be dire enough to greatly promote certain builds

Once more, which builds? It blocks paths, not builds.
Mm..

A 16 fighter picking 1 rogue with skill-dumping gets 1d6 sneak attack, +2-4 AC (from tumble) at the expense of -1 AB. (Though you might have wanted to take 2 rogue levels at start regardless. More skill points that way and you only lose 1 AB no matter if you take 1 or 4 levels in rogue.. Plus, you prolly want evasion from level 2)
A 16 fighter picking 1 wizard gets access to casting all wizard scrolls, at the expense of -1 AB.
A 16 wizard picking 1 rogue gets +2-4 AC from tumble, 1d6 sneak attack, at I'd say only a minor disadvantage in spell availability.

And there's a bunch of other derivatives to this multiclassing tactic for the various classes.

Let's say your hypothetical 15-1 build is OP and would wreck everything.
That's a bit of an exaggeration of what I said.

Then a much more powerful form of it exists as a 15-5 build that *is* allowed. True, it takes longer to get there, but the rule by itself won't stop anyone from building it.

Not really. 15 fighter/5 wizard has little benefit over 19 fighter/1 wizard. Low level scrolls are common enough and level 5 wizard doesn't pack anything particularly powerful you'd not already have.

5 levels of rogue on the other hand means -2 AB, while 1-4 levels of rogue means -1 AB and you get to reap the main benefit of skill dumping. Same for bard.

Something like 19 wizard/1 rogue is amazing if you can pull it off to level 20, while 15 wizard/5 rogue is a clear sacrifice - you're not getting level 8 and 9 spells at all without scrolls.

A lot of 15/5 builds just have clearer sacrifices and more obvious potential disadvantages than 19/1 builds.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 03:58:01 PM by Exordium »

TheGrinningHound

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2017, 07:50:35 PM »
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About allowing picking levels that lower the gap - I think it's decently common for people to aim their builds to be "finished" before level 20. So, people would still go for those builds of 15 fighter 1 wizard.

In previous posts I've argued why this is a fear without much of a foundation. A 1+15 build might have some appeal, but if a character is already 15th, she is quite powerful to take a first level in something else.

She has to trade 16th level in her existing class for 1st level in another. If that is a good trade, then 1st level in the other class is clearly over-powered already.

Secondly, if 1st level in this second class is a prestige class, it will require approval. So it is policed through an already existing mechanism.

There are a couple of things here.

First, that's really not an issue for most. In fact, if any build had to just put only one or two levels of something, it would usually happen in their later levels. Because that's when they can apply a full skill dump. He could take it early, and put a few points into a valuable skill. Or he could take it late, and put 40 saved points into all the rogue skills he needs, as well as gaining 4 AC. All at the cost of a single level. In fact, your own example is exactly the reason why the situation is overpowered, and serves to demonstrate why the rule is important.

One level of rogue isn't overpowered. One level of rogue used as a skill dump late in the game is.

It's not the class that's OP, it's the way the class is used in conjunction with NWN's ability to retain skillpoints after leveling. That's really all it is. And it's really why the ruling is important. Because the 10 level spread requirement forces the player to take the classes earlier in his progression, which often times applies the drawbacks earlier, and also applies the rewards slower.


Second thing-- the approval process of the CC for prestige classes doesn't often consider the strength of the character or his build. It's usually about the RP, the responsibility of the player, the quality of the request. I can't say I've seen any mention of trying to moderate someone's mechanical strength.

Iridni Ren

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #22 on: May 22, 2017, 11:44:51 PM »
I think you guys worry about a lot of things that are never going to happen or are going to happen super rarely.

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Because that's when they can apply a full skill dump. He could take it early, and put a few points into a valuable skill. Or he could take it late, and put 40 saved points into all the rogue skills he needs, as well as gaining 4 AC.

So for all those levels the player has to go without any skill points. Really? This is a thing? Maybe with the relevel crystal, but not now when you'd have to make it through 14 levels with basically no skills at all. (Not to mention you miss out on the nice quadrupling of points you get by putting your *first* level in rogue.)

Finally (and yet again), the existing rules don't prevent what you say you're worried about. They just make it more difficult.

I could split 10-5 barbarian/fighter, for example, and dump rogue at 16th.

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Nemesis 24

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2017, 12:14:40 AM »
People absolutely hold their skill points. I held some for 11 levels before.  Im sure others have for longer.

TheGrinningHound

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Re: Cheesy builds and the level rules
« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2017, 12:36:59 AM »
Uh, yeah it's totally a thing. It's considered standard practice on every server that doesn't have rules in place that force workarounds or outright prevent it.

Yes, the current ruling doesn't eliminate skilldumping, but it makes it more costly to your overall build spread, and less suddenly rewarding/character changing at a later level. I never said it eliminated it. I specifically said (Yet again):
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Because the 10 level spread requirement forces the player to take the classes earlier in his progression, which often times applies the drawbacks earlier, and also applies the rewards slower.
I never said it eliminates it. I said it made it harder. Which you also agree with. Which is why I personally like the ruling.

It's also not as if they have no skills at all while holding their skill points. It's just that cross-classing skills is not only twice as expensive, but also caps you at half your regular class skill value. Even if there wasn't our current rule present, it's simply wholly inefficient to spend points on them if you know you can multiclass into it later. It's just a matter of how much later you're willing to wait for the bigger reward. What the rule does, is that it makes it so that you can't have an incredibly minimal input of levels way late in the game to achieve a super rewarding skill dump. You can still get that same skill dump, but you're gonna have to spend many levels to do so-- and often times, you'll be taking those levels throughout many stages of your development.

And again, this impacts casters much more than fighters and rogues. Barbarians and Rangers were given juicy pureclass progression rewards, so that's the only noteworthy mention.

** PS: Rogue level at 1 is also pretty sweet, but if a player had to choose only one rogue level in his whole progression, he'd be foolish to choose it at the very start-- compared to the 4-5 AC increase, maximum rogue skills that he could get by using it later (Instead of just getting more skillpoints that he has to probably spend on cross-class skills, because no class has as many available skills as a rogue).




« Last Edit: May 23, 2017, 12:38:45 AM by TheGrinningHound »