3.5 d20 Level-By-Level Base Class Breakdowns, Part II

   Here we have the next segment of the level-by-level breakdowns of the basic d20 character classes for Eclipse: The Codex Persona – in this case the Druid, Fighter, and Sorcerer. Why those three? Well, mostly it’s for the sake of contrast. The Druid is one of the most heavily frontloaded classes around, the Sorcerer is more or less the opposite – and the Fighter is one of the few classes to have a sizeable chunk of unspent points available.

   They also neatly demonstrate one of the major features of using Eclipse: there’s nothing wrong with using a classical design for a bit and then using point-buy to build on the abilities you’ve already got – or with mixing classical and point-buy characters. Characters with classical classes will have a few more points, but the point-buy builds will generally spend the points they have more efficiently and will have exactly the abilities they want. In practice, it doesn’t usually lead to much of a disparity – or at least to no more of a disparity than the usual mixture of builds and objectives you find in any group.

The Druid, Levels 1-20:

   Every Level: d8 Hit Die (4), +1 Druid Magic Level (one Specialized Caster Level for the Druid Spell Progression only, 3, and one level of the Druid Spell Progression, 5), +4 Skill Points (4), religious Duties (-2), religious restrictions on Weapons (-1) and Armor (-1) = 12 CP.

Level

Cost

Purchases

 

1st

72

Fort +2 (6), Will +2 (6), Companion (6), 2x Skill Focus/”Nature Sense” (6), Lore/Animals (Specialized: only covers how to get along with them, 3), +12 Skill Points (12), Spell Conversion (Summon Natures’s Ally, 6), Proficient with Light and Medium Armor and Shields (12) and with Druidic Weapons (a limited group, 6).

 

2nd

27

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3), Travel/Forest (3)

 

3rd

21

+1 BAB (6), Ref +1 (3), Traceless/Travel (Specialized; in natural surroundings only, 3).

 

4th

30

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3), Resist/+4 on saves versus the Fey (6)

 

5th

18

Shapeshift (6)

 

6th

27

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3), Ref +1 (3)

 

7th

20

+1 BAB (6), +1 Bonus Use of Shapeshift (2)

 

8th

27

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3), Shapeshift/Growth (3)

 

9th

21

Ref +1 (3), Immunity/Poison (Common, Major, Minor, 6).

 

10th

24

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3)

 

11th

21

+1 BAB (6), Shapeshift/Shrinking (3)

 

12th

30

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3), Ref +1 (3), Shapeshift/Plant (3)

 

13th

15

Shapeshift/Variants (3)

 

14th

24

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3)

 

15th

21

+1 BAB (6), Ref +1 (3), Immunity/Aging (Common, Major, Trivial, 3 or free, depending on the campaign; I’m rating it as free since relatively few campaigns go on long enough for the characters to worry about aging. Effectively the same as the Timeless Body power, but why do things the same way each time?)

 

16th

27

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3), Shapeshift/Elemental (3)

 

17th

12

None

 

18th

27

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3), Ref +1 (3)

 

19th

18

+1 BAB (6)

 

20th

24

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3)

 

 Grand Total: 506 CP out of 504 available (counting the disadvantages as negative costs).

   It doesn’t look like that could come out to be balanced overall does it? The impression is a lot of high numbers – and it does have a few extremely high ones, especially that first level. That’s a full twenty-four character points overspent. Of course, there are also a few really low numbers in there – and a lot that are just a little low.

   The trouble with the Druid – and what makes for that expensive first level – is that they’re pretty good at everything. They can fight pretty well, provide backup even better, summon creatures, get information from animals, heal, entrap enemies, and more. They aren’t the best – but they can fill in for almost any role.

   Point-buy Druids work out the same after the first few levels, but generally start out at first level with less in the way of wilderness abilities (first level characters generally don’t belong out in the wilderness anyway) and a bit less in the way of skills and saves. You can usually expect to find them investing bonus feats in upgrading their companions and / or their shapechanging, which can make them quite formidable very quickly.

The Fighter, Levels 1-20:

   Every Level: d10 Hit Die (6), +1 BAB (6), +2 Skill Points (2) = 14 CP.

Level

Cost

Purchases

1st

59

+2 Fort (6), Bonus feat (6), Proficient with Light, Medium, and Heavy Armor (15), Shields (3), and All Simple and Martial Weapons (9), +6 Skill Points (6).

2nd

23

+1 Fort (3), Bonus Feat

3rd

20

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3)

4th

23

+1 Fort (3), Bonus Feat (6)

5th

14

None

6th

29

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), Bonus Feat (6)

7th

14

None

8th

23

+1 Fort (3), Bonus Feat (6)

9th

20

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3)

10th

23

+1 Fort (3), Bonus Feat (6)

11th

14

None

12th

29

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), Bonus Feat (6)

13th

14

None

14th

23

+1 Fort (3), Bonus Feat (6)

15th

20

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3)

16th

23

+1 Fort (3), Bonus Feat (6)

17th

14

None

18th

29

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), Bonus Feat (6)

19th

14

None

20th

23

+1 Fort (3), Bonus Feat (6)

   Grand Total: 451 out of 504 available.

   Here we have one of the few significantly underpowered base classes: the first level – despite being frontloaded as usual – could be easily matched by a point-buy character, and it rapidly gets worse from there. It’s not that the fighter isn’t good at small-scale combat; it’s that they’re have no abilities at all that are of use in anything else and very little in the way of skills to fall back on if fighting is not appropriate. If the game master happens to be running a stealth mission, or a bit of political intrigue, or an investigation, or a diplomatic effort, or any of a dozen other kinds of missions that don’t call for combat, the fighter might as well be sick in bed. The player will have to content himself or herself with making suggestions.

   My recommendation hasn’t changed from when I wrote Eclipse: spend some of those fifty-three left over points getting some noncombat abilities to work with – or, if you MUST focus on combat – make sure that no one else does it nearly as well as you do. How much better is a Wizard at casting spells than the Fighter? That’s how much better the Fighter should be at combat than the Wizard is.

The Sorcerer, Levels 1-20:

   Every Level: d4 Hit Die (0), 2 SP (2), One Sorcerer Magic Level (one step on the Sorcerer Spellcasting Progression, 13, and one Caster Level specialized in Sorcerer Spellcasting, 3) = 18.

Level

Cost

Purchases

1st

39

+2 Will (6), Companion (6), Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3), +6 Skill Points (6)

2nd

27

+1 BAB (6), +1 Will (3)

3rd

24

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3)

4th

27

+1 BAB (6), +1 Will (3)

5th

18

None

6th

33

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3)

7th

18

None

8th

27

+1 BAB (6), +1 Will (3)

9th

24

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3)

10th

27

+1 BAB (6), +1 Will (3)

11th

18

None

12th

33

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3)

13th

18

None

14th

27

+1 BAB (6), +1 Will (3)

15th

24

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3)

16th

27

+1 BAB (6), +1 Will (3)

17th

18

None

18th

33

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3)

19th

18

None

20th

27

+1 BAB (6), +1 Will (3)

   Grand Total: 507 out of 504 available.

   The Sorcerer isn’t especially frontloaded. That’s one reason why it’s so rare for anyone to take a level or two of Sorcerer unless they need it to qualify for a prestige class of some kind. It also means that – since the point totals are tolerably well balanced – they’re weaker and / or less versatile than many of the other core classes at low levels and pick up steam later on.

   Point-buy Sorcerer builds are pretty simple: you just buy the stuff for each level as you come to it, and you’ll never be more than a few points off the standard design. Of course, people who want to be that boring rarely bother with point-buy designs anyway.

3.5 d20 Level-By-Level Base Class Breakdowns, Part I

   It’s been requested a couple of times, so for today it’s a level-by-level breakdown of some of the basic d20 character classes for Eclipse: The Codex Persona. Sadly, most of them aren’t actually very exciting: the standardized saving-throw progressions and BAB progressions get dull pretty quickly and quite a few of the classes otherwise progress in pretty standard increments.

   It does nicely serve to illustrate, as noted in Eclipse in the section on class breakdowns, that a lot of the standard d20 classes are rather frontloaded, with a disproportionate number of abilities and bonuses assigned to the first few levels. Eclipse partially simulates this by providing 24 character points at level zero and an additional 24 more per additional level – giving first level characters a total of 48, plus any derived from disadvantages. That still won’t match some of the standard classes, but the freedom to take only the abilities you want, and to modify them to suit your character conception, usually more than makes up for it.

The Barbarian, Levels 1-20:

   Every Level: d12 HD (8 CP), +1 BAB (Warcraft, 6 CP), and 4 Skill Points (4 CP) = 18 CP. This has been included in the level-by-level “Cost” figure on the chart below.

Level

Cost

Purchased

1’st

65

Proficient with Simple and Martial Weapons, Light and Medium Armor, and Shields (21 CP), +12 Skill Points (12 CP), +2 Fort (6 CP), Celerity/Corrupted, not when seriously encumbered (4 CP), Berserker (6 CP), and a standard disadvantage: Illiterate (-2 CP)

2’nd

27

+1 Fort (3 CP), Awareness (6 CP).

3rd

25

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), Awareness/Danger Sense +1 (1)

4th

21

+1 Fort (3)

5th

21

Awareness/Flankless, Specialized (will not work against high-level foes) (3)

6th

28

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), Awareness/Danger Sense +1 (1)

7th

19

DR 1/Non-Physical (1)

8th

21

+1 Fort (3)

9th

25

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), Awareness/Danger Sense +1 (1)

10th

22

+1 Fort (3), DR 2/Non-physical (+1)

11th

21

Berserker/Odinpower (3)

12th

28

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), Awareness/Danger Sense +1 (1)

13th

19

DR 3/Non-Physical (+1)

14th

24

+1 Fort (3), +4 on Will saves to resist Enchantment spells, Specialized/Only while berserk (3)

15th

25

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), Awareness/Danger Sense +1 (1)

16th

22

+1 Fort (3), DR 4/Non-Physical (+1)

17th

21

Berserker/Enduring (3)

18th

28

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), Awareness/Danger Sense +1 (1)

19th

20

DR 5/Non-Physical (+2)

20th

24

+1 Fort (3), Berserker/Odinmight (3)

   Grand Total: 506 CP out of 504 CP available.

   The Barbarian is pretty well balanced overall, and has reasonably consistent level costs after first level – but it takes awhile to make up for the over-expenditure of those early levels. Eclipse point-buy Barbarians builds usually take some disadvantages to get a few more points early on and / or skimp a bit on skill points and saving throws for the first few levels – either making up for it later or investing the points in various exotic talents.

The Bard, Levels 1-20:

   Every Level: D6 Hit Die (2), +6 Skill Points (6), +1 Caster Level (Specialized in Bardic Magic only, 3), +1 level of the Bardic Spell Progression (3 after the Noncombative limitation is applied) = 14 CP. This has been included in the level-by-level “Cost” figure on the chart below.

 

Level

Cost

Purchased

1st

69

Ref +2 (6), Will +2 (6), Mystic Artist/Musician (6), Lore/Rumors and Secrets (6), +18 Skill Points (18), Proficient with Light Armor (3), Shields (3), and all Simple and Martial Weapons (Corrupted/martial weapons are limited to light swords, the Sap, Shortbow, and Whip) (7).

2nd

26

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 BAB (6)

3rd

23

+1 Fort (3), +1 BAB (6)

4th

26

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 BAB (6)

5th

14

None

6th

29

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 BAB (6)

7th

20

+1 BAB (6)

8th

26

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 BAB (6)

9th

17

+1 Fort (3)

10th

26

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 BAB (6)

11th

20

+1 BAB (6)

12th

29

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 BAB (6)

13th

14

None

14th

26

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 BAB (6)

15th

23

+1 Fort (3), +1 BAB (6)

16th

26

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 BAB (6)

17th

14

None

18th

29

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 BAB (6)

19th

20

+1 BAB (6)

20th

26

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 BAB (6)

   Grand Total: 503 CP out of 504 CP available.

   The Bard is balanced overall, but it’s level costs fluctuate wildly and it overspends considerably in the first few levels before making up for it later on. Just as with the Barbarian, point-buy Bards usually take some disadvantages, and usually take a level of Adept, allowing them to get along on fewer skill points for the same results. From observation, most of them drift away from the base class outline later on – buying contacts and enhancements to social and knowledge skills to become social adepts while neglecting combat, neglecting magic in favor of combat skills and mystic artist powers, or neglecting combat in favor of additional magical powers and knowledge enhancements. Personally, I think that’s a good thing; the portrayals of bards in historical and fantasy sources vary wildly. Why shouldn’t bards in the game do the same?

   If your Bard wants to duplicate the standard “Bardic Music” progression, take a musical Perform skill and the following abilities at the following Perform skill levels:

   3; Manipulation I/Fascinate, 4; Synergy I/Block, 5; Inspiration I/Emotion, 6; Inspiration II/Competence, 9; Manipulation III/Suggestion, 12; Inspiration III/Greatness, 15; Manipulation IV/Emotional Auras (a bonus ability not on the standard list), 18; Either Manipulation V/Freedom or Inspiration VI/Mass Excellence, and 21; Whichever of Freedom or Mass Excellence was not taken for the previous ability.

   Note that several of these abilities call for a Perform skill level 1-3 points higher than the values in the SRD. This is because this list is NOT limited by level, only by the user’s skill – and his or her attribute bonus, racial bonuses, inherent bonuses, and feat bonuses all apply to his or her effective skill level. If you want to work on that perform skill, you can get many of those abilities a good deal earlier than usual.

The Cleric, Levels 1-20:

   Every Level: d8 Hit Die (4), 2 Skill Points (2), +1 Level of Clerical Magic (+1 Caster Level specialized in Clerical Magic, 3, and +1 level of the Cleric Spell Progression, 7), and various religious Duties (-2) = 14 CP. This has been included in the level-by-level “Cost” figure on the chart below.

Level

Cost

Purchases

1st

68

+2 Fort (6), +2 Will (6), Turn/Rebuke Undead with (3 + Cha Mod) uses/day and a +4 bonus to Intensity (15), Proficient with Light, Medium, and Heavy Armor (15), Shields (3), and All Simple Weapons (3), +6 Skill Points (6)

2nd

26

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Will (3)

3rd

23

+1 BAB (6), +1 Ref (3)

4th

26

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Will (3)

5th

14

None

6th

29

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3)

7th

20

+1 BAB (6)

8th

26

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Will (3)

9th

17

+1 Ref (3)

10th

26

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Will (3)

11th

20

+1 BAB (6)

12th

29

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3)

13th

14

None

14th

26

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Will (3)

15th

23

+1 BAB (6), +1 Ref (3)

16th

26

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Will (3)

17th

14

None

18th

29

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3)

19th

20

+1 BAB (6)

20th

26

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Will (3)

   Grand Total: 502 CP out of 504 available (treating the Duties as a subtraction):

   The Cleric is – once again – balanced overall (at least ignoring the perpetual debate over their spell list being too powerful to make up for the common lack of interest in playing the party healer), but that first level is overbuilt by twenty points. Even with some disadvantages to help out, when you’re building a point-buy Cleric, something is going to have to wait for a few levels.

   In our games it usually depends on just what god or faith the Cleric is serving. Quite a lot of the more peaceful faiths don’t teach quite that much in the way of combat skills to start off with. More combative faiths often skimp a bit on the magic. Others cut down on either or both to throw in some minor special ability.

   Now, if the game master wants to encourage the standard classes, the easiest way to do so – and to make it easy to take them without modification – is to make part of their abilities a set of Package Deals (Eclipse, page 18). That will give people who decided to stick with the standard roles a small bonus and help pay for those expensive early levels.