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

   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 Paladin and Ranger. “Paladins” are always popular; the noble knight, backed by the powers of light, is one of the basic heroic archetypes. The actual class is sometimes a bit disappointing that way, but it’s hard to come up with something practical that really lives up to that imaginary standard.

   The Ranger – the strong (and usually silent) rugged wanderer of the wilderness who knows the hidden secrets of nature – goes all the way back to when people were living as tribal hunter-gatherers. When the Ranger comes to your aid, finds food for the party in the wilderness, or fights off a dangerous beast, it’s hard to get any more classical.

The Paladin, Levels 1-20:

   Every Level: d10 Hit Die (6), +1 BAB (6), +2 Skill Points (2), religious Duties (-2) = 12 CP.

Level

Cost

Purchases

1st

57

+2 Fort (6), Occult Sense/Detect Evil (3*), Smite/Evil once per day (3*), Proficient with all Simple and Martial Weapons (9), Light, Medium, and Heavy Armor (15), and Shields (3), and +6 Skill Points (6). “Aura of Good” doesn’t do anything useful – and therefore isn’t a power.

2nd

36

+1 Fort (3), Augmented Bonus/Improved x3 (add Cha Mod to Reflex Saves, add Cha Mod to Fort saves, add Cha Mod to Will saves, 18* total), Healing Touch (3*)

3rd

27

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), Presence/Aura of Courage (3*), Immunity/Fear (Common, Minor, Major, 3* CP), Immunity to Disease (Uncommon, Major, Major, 3* CP)

4th

27

+1 Fort (3), Positive-Energy Channeling (3 + Cha Mod uses/day, 4*), two Caster Levels Specialized in Paladin Spellcasting (6) and +1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

5th

17

+2 Bonus Uses on Smite (1*), Inherent Spell/Summon Mount 1/Day (L3, Corrupted: if the mount is slain, the summoner cannot use this power again for a month and suffers a -1 on attack and weapon damage rolls until he can, 2*), +1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

6th

29

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), Healing Touch/Improved (Remove Disease, 3*), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Paladin Spellcasting (3), +1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

7th

14

+1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

8th

20

+1 Fort (3), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Paladin Spellcasting (3), +1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

9th

20

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

10th

21

+1 Fort (3), +1 Bonus Use of Smite (1*), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Paladin Spellcasting (3), +1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

11th

14

+1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

12th

26

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Paladin Spellcasting (3), +1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

13th

14

+1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

14th

20

+1 Fort (3), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Paladin Spellcasting (3), +1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

15th

22

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 Bonus Use of Smite (2), +1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

16th

20

+1 Fort (3), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Paladin Spellcasting (3), +1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

17th

14

+1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

18th

26

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Paladin Spellcasting (3), +1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

19th

14

+1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

20th

21

+1 Fort (3), +1 Bonus Use of Smite (1*), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Paladin Spellcasting (3), +1 Level of the Paladin Spell Progression (2)

   

*Specialized for half cost: the character will lost the use of these abilities until he or she atones if he or she fails to remain truly good and pure in faith, knowingly commits an evil act, or fails to adhere to the Paladin’s Code. Since a Paladin’s spellcasting is already subject to the “Conduct” limitation (page 11), you can’t use this to save any points there.

   Grand Total: 459 out of 504 available.

   We actually have two separate designs here: the writeup really shouldn’t have both “Duties” and that big Specialization listed in the last box on the chart. The “Paladin’s Code” should cover most of the Duties, and the Duties should cover most of the Specialization requirements; using both is a arguably a violation of the basic rule of limitations – “if it doesn’t really add to the character’s difficulties, it isn’t worth anything”.

   Dropping the Specialization increases the total cost by 47 points, to 506 out of 504 available, and is the choice I recommend: it offers a lot more room for roleplaying borderline situations and creeping penalties than the all-or-nothing knockout punch you get from that Specialization.

   Dropping the Duties, however appropriate they seem, increases the cost by 40 points, to 499 out of 504 available. Either way, the Paladin will be pretty well balanced.

   Like several of the other base classes, the Paladin is pretty heavily frontloaded. Of course, in 3.0, it was even more frontloaded – to the point where taking one level of Paladin was an excellent multiclassing deal for all kinds of lawful-good-heroic characters. They could trade in one level for adding their charisma modifier to all their saves, +1 BAB, +2 Fort, a d10 Hit Die, Detect Evil, Immunity to Disease, minor healing powers (enough to stabilize people without worrying about first aid – and possibly more if you could talk the game master into reading “the paladins level” as “the characters total level” rather than “the number of paladin levels the character has”), and the ability to use spell-completion items containing a variety of useful spells. In 3.5 it’s still grossly frontloaded, but at least the frontloading is spread over the first few levels.

   On the other hand, the Paladin is dull at higher levels: all you get really get is a better BAB and a few more rather practical and unexciting spells – and most of them are things that the party Cleric got long before.

   It’s also the only base class where you can spontaneously lose a major portion of the character points you’ve invested and which cannot work with large numbers of other characters. You can be quite effective until – suddenly, and sometimes rather arbitrarily – you’re seriously crippled or effectively out of the party. Of course, most game masters don’t do this, since it tends to frustrate everyone at the table and isn’t good for the game – which means that the Paladin is getting a bonus with no particular penalty. That would be bad for game balance if the Paladin had actually spent the points they saved on anything.

   You can play an Eclipse-style point-buy Paladin using the standard progression – and it fixes a part of the problem right up front; you’ll be able to afford the first level with some disadvantages, but you’ll have to put off some of the later abilities for a level or two, or even a little longer if you go ahead and get rid of the Specialization.

   Of course, in practice, there are at least three point-buy sample characters on this site – Matthew Carrington, an anime-themed holy archer, Sem the Sin-Eater, a poverty-stricken keeper of oaths, and Li Kao, an eastern-style spirit master – who consider themselves Paladins. None of them bear much resemblance to the standard build though. That’s partly because being a “Holy Warrior of Generic Goodness” just lacks style somehow and partly because – players being players – they try to squeeze more efficiency out of their builds.

 

The Ranger, Levels 1-20:

   Every Level: +1 BAB (6), d8 Hit Die (4), +4 Skill Points (+2 for Fast Learner, 4) = 14 CP.

Level

Cost

Purchases

1st

80

+2 Fort (6), +2 Ref (6), Favored Enemy (6), Track (6), Lore/Animals (Specialized, only to understand how to get along with them, 3), Proficient with all Simple and Martial Weapons (9), with Light Armor (3), and with Shields (3), Fast Learner (Specialized in Skills, for +2 SP/Level, presumed acquired at level zero to start at level one, 6), and +18 Skill Points (18)

2nd

24

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), Combat Feat (Corrupted, only while wearing Light or No Armor, 4)

3rd

19

+1 Will (3), Immunity/Natural Environmental Hazards (Common, Minor, Trivial, 2)

4th

30

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), Companion (Specialized/companion bonuses progress as if the user was only half his or her level, 3), two Caster Levels Specialized in Ranger Spellcasting (6) and +1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

5th

15

+1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

6th

31

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), Combat Feat (Corrupted, only while wearing Light or No Armor, 4), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Ranger Spellcasting (3), and +1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

7th

18

Travel/Forest (3), +1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

8th

27

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), Celerity (Specialized: only increases tracking speed, 3), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Ranger Spellcasting (3), and +1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

9th

24

+1 Will (3), Fortune/Evasion Variant (6), +1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

10th

24

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Ranger Spellcasting (3), and +1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

11th

19

Combat Feat (Corrupted, only while wearing Light or No Armor, 4), +1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

12th

27

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Ranger Spellcasting (3), and +1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

13th

17

Immunity/need to have cover or concealment to use the Hide skill (Common, Minor, Minor, Specialized/only in natural terrain, 2), +1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

14th

24

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Ranger Spellcasting (3), and +1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

15th

18

+1 Will (3), +1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

16th

24

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Ranger Spellcasting (3), and +1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

17th

17

Immunity/inability to hide while under direct observation (Common, Minor, Minor, Specialized/only in natural terrain, 2), +1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

18th

27

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Ranger Spellcasting (3), and +1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

19th

15

+1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

20th

24

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Caster Level Specialized in Ranger Spellcasting (3), and +1 Level of the Ranger Spell Progression (1*)

   

*Specialized: Only usable in light armor despite not having the Components limitation, restricted to utilitarian nature-related spells only; you won’t find a ranger with much in the way of powerful offensive, illusion, or stealth spells.

   Grand Total: 504 out of 504 available.

   The Ranger is well balanced, if a bit erratic in it’s per-level costs. Like so many other classes, however, it’s got far too much loaded into that first level. An Eclipse point-buy Ranger will just have to delay gratification on a few things for a couple of levels or restrict (Specialize or Corrupt) a few items to start with and buy off the limitations later.

   Unlike the Paladin, the basic Ranger type has been reasonably popular in our point-buy games – although most of those characters throw in a few disadvantages, throw in “Adept” so they can get along with fewer skill points, and throw in a Spirit Weapon or some archery enhancements or some such.

   The 3.5 Ranger is also notable for being the only base class build that has been notably revised since Eclipse was published. At that point in the writing process – not so long after 3.5 came out – the Class Breakdown appendix was being rather hurriedly finished up so that we could get the book out for people to use, and the 3.5 Ranger writeup wound up using a near-unique modifier that was then edited out of the rest of the book in favor of simply using Specialization and Corruption – which were far more powerful tools for designing characters anyway. Ergo, here we have the corrected version.

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One Response

  1. […] Bard, and Cleric, Druid, Fighter, and Sorcerer, Paladin and Ranger, Rogue and Wizard, Psion and Psychic Warrior, and […]

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