Opinions (and Facts) on Things in the Player's Handbook

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Chapter 3: Classes


New 2/18/03: Terminology
    The PH is written assuming you read it the first time front-to-back. Therefore, the classes chapter is written using the term "level" meaning "class level" because they don't introduce the different between "class level" and "character level" until the end of the chapter.

New 2/18/03: Base Attack Bonus
    Just to make sure everyone knows this, BAB is cumulative. If one of your classes gives you +1 and the other gives you +2, your base attack bonus is +3. If your total base attack bonus is enough that it would grant you multiple attacks per round, you get multiple attacks per round, even if your individual base attack bonuses aren’t high enough on their own to get multiple attacks.

New 2/18/03: Weapon Proficiencies and Class Creation
    Barbarians, fighters, paladins, and rangers are proficient in all martial weapons. When modifying these classes, do not consider this class feature as a dozen feat-equivalents of Martial Weapon Proficiency. In other words, making a fighter-like class that doesn’t have any martial weapon proficiencies but does have ten or more class-granted feats is not necessarily an automatically balanced change.

Barbarian
    Undead barbarians use their Cha instead of Con to determine how long they can rage, and (of course) don't gain any extra hit points when raging but also don't suffer fatigue afterward.
    New 2/18/03: Literacy:When a barbarian multiclasses, they gain literacy. They are literate in any languages they know and if they learn other languages in the future they become literate in those as well.

Bard
    The bard abilities that say they affect allies should affect the bard as well. The fact that some effects in the PH say "you and your allies" is an annoyance and introduces a line of distinction that the game doesn't need.
    Bards ought to be able to use the Quicken Spell feat normally (free action to cast) instead of with their normal increased casting time (but adding Quicken Spell to a spell with another metamagic feat buts you back in the land of increased casting time).
    New 2/18/03: Countersong:The text says that when using a countersong, a bard can’t perform  "other magical abilities." That should be a little more precise, such as "other magical abilities involving speaking or using the bard’s voice." Otherwise he can’t apply a magical oil, throw a packet of dust of appearance, and so on.

Cleric
    Extra Turning should be a fully-statted feat and presented in the Feats chapter (see my upcoming Feats options article).
    New 2/18/03: While a cleric has to be the appropriate nonhuman race to be a cleric of a nonhuman deity (such as dwarves for Moradin), any noncleric character can worship any deity. Only clerics have special restrictions as to what race they can be for certain deities. The “human” deities allow nonhuman worshippers and nonhuman clerics.
    New 2/18/03: Clerics get two domains as a balancing issue. Some domains have strong granted powers and weak spell lists, while others are the opposite. Therefore, it is an error to assume that simply giving a character a domain's granted power for one of a deity’s domains (such as for a cleric-themed prestige class) is a balanced choice, as two characters with different deities might have different domain granted powers of greatly different power levels. (By this I mean, "At Xth level, you gain the domain granted power of any one domain your deity grants."
    New 2/18/03: Spontaneous Casting: In previous versions of the game, clerics were the primary source of cure magic. When a cleric’s player chose spells that weren’t cure spells, they were often blamed when the time came for healing and none was available. Looking at it another way, every non-cure prepared meant one less cure spell available when the situation grew dire. This rule turned clerics into walking batteries of cure spells, and so clerics were rarely able to use their more interesting spells, which is less fun for the cleric. With 3E D&D, clerics are able to use their more interesting spells, but still are able to use those spells for cure spells if they need to.
    Some think that a spontaneously-cast cure spell should be less powerful than a prepared cure. However, implementing such a rule only brings back the problem from earlier editions -- the cleric is penalized for preparing spells other than cure spells, both in terms of party attitude and game mechanics. A broad spell list is a class feature of the cleric class. Denying the cleric the ability to use that list is poor game design.
    Some think that a cleric should be able to spontaneously cast any of their spells, as clerics have a connection to their deity and should be able to get the appropriate spell when needed. This brings into question the balancing factor of sorcerers vs. wizards. Sorcerers know few spells, but can cast them more often and don’t have to choose ahead of time, while wizards know many spells but have to prepare them in advance and have fewer per day. Allowing a cleric to cast all spells spontaneously makes them much more powerful unless you greatly reduce their spell list, such as by giving each cleric a small spell list or reducing the entire clerical list.

Druid
    Druids that worship a deity should be able to use her deity's favored weapon without violating her spiritual oaths (FR uses this rule). They aren't necessarily proficient in it (just like clerics aren't), but they should be able to wield it without losing class abilities.
    New 2/18/03: Animal Companions: The druid class can only be considered balanced compared to the other character classes if you include its ability to have animal companions. Without the animal companions, druids are weaker than clerics. If a druid is not allowed to have animal companions, they should be given something else to compensate for this loss.

Fighter
   Weapon Specialization should be a fully-statted feat and presented in the Feats chapter (see my PH Opinions: Feats article).

Monk
    Monk base attack bonus should stack with the base attack bonus from other classes for the purpose of her unarmed attack rate. It just doesn't make sense to me that a monk who takes some levels in fighter can't add her fighter BAB to her monk BAB and use it to get more attacks per round. Your BAB reflects your knowledge of fighting and fighting skill, and just because you spend some time fighting with a sword doesn't mean you can't apply the knowledge of "hit on the head, it hurts more" to when you punch someone. A wizard class' BAB adds to a fighter class' BAB, so the fighter class (and all other classes) should add to the monk BAB. It's just weird that they don't stack, and particularly hoses the monk that takes a few levels of fighter. They should still be limited to the mnk20's 5 attacks per round, though.
    Monks should be able do multiple stuns in a round. A monk's stunning attack should be an extraordinary ability, not a supernatural ability (the Stunning Fist feat lets you stun as a extraordinary ability, so the monk version should, too). Since the Stunning Fist feat counts your entire character level, the monk ability should count your whole character level (not just your monk levels), otherwise the monk's class ability is simply worse than the one you can get with a feat
    The monk multiclassing restriction should go away. It was only put in to mollify PH playtesters who felt that "leaving the path of the monk" should be restricted. It's a flavor thing, not a game balance thing. You'll note the "multiclassing freely" rules for monks in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, which are exceptions to that rule for certain faiths and organizations ... that was done because the FR design team was told that FR couldn't overrule core rules that the design team felt were unneccessary.
    New 2/18/03: Flurry: While a monk can take the Ambidexterity and Two-Weapon Fighting feats, it is more advantageous for monks to use the flurry of blows ability, especially as the flurry attacks don’t have a reduced Strength bonus for an off-hand attack. A flurry is basically a specialized Ambi/TWF combo.

Paladin
    The paladin multiclassing restriction should go away (see the argument for the monk multiclassing restriction, above.
    Extra Turning should be a fully-statted feat, as described in the cleric section above.
    New 2/18/03: Extra Turning Part 2: Paladins can take the Extra Turning feat, although it has no effect until the paladin reaches 3rd level. This is because the feat says "four more times than normal," and until 3rd level a paladin normally can’t turn undead at all. Treat this as the difference between a "--" and a "0" on a spell progression chart ... the former means the character doesn’t get to use any bonus spells of that level, the latter means she does.
    Lay on hands ought to be a supernatural ability. One, it's cooler that they can just channel holy power to heal themselves without drawing attacks for it. Two, it doesn't duplicate an existing spell, which means that if the paladin uses the ability while threatened and takes damage, you don't know what the Concentration DC is to succed at using the ability despite the distraction.

Ranger
   Rangers should get their favored enemy bonus against oozes, constructs, undead, and plants. It's not like you're critting the thing, you're just using your knowledge of how to best attack certain creatures. If a strong character's Strength damage should count against hitting an ooze, a ranger's favored enemy bonus should count because the ranger knows how (if not where, since where doesn't matter) to hit an ooze to the same effect. Plus, allowing this means that choosing these creatures isn't a stupid choice for rangers.
    Elven rangers should be able to take favored enemy: drow without being evil. Drow should be able to take favored enemy: surface elf without being evil, too (of course, most drow are evil, so this point is moot). Likewise for dwarf/gray dwarf.
    New 2/18/03: Animal Companions: The ranger class can only be considered balanced compared to the other character classes if you include its ability to have animal companions. Without the animal companions, rangers are weaker than fighters. If a ranger is not allowed to have animal companions, they should be given something else to compensate for this loss.

Rogue
   If a rogue is in a position to sneak attack and has multiple attacks in a round, she gets her sneak attack on every attack, not just the first one (barring circumstances like being invsible, which goes away after the first attack). That's not an opinion, that's an actual D&D rule. Abandon your 1E/2E thinking where rogues could only get 1 backstab per round (or per combat, even).
    New 2/18/03: Sneak Attacks and Unusual Weapons: A rogue can use any weapon to make a sneak attack—she doesn’t have to use one of the weapons a rogue is normally proficient with.

Sorcerer
    Sorcerers, like bards, ought to be able to use the Quicken Spell feat normally, as described above.
    It kinda sucks that for a class that normally has a high Charisma, sorcerers don't have any class skills that use Charisma. There are at least two ways to fix that: one, give them more skill points; two, let them pick one Cha-based skill as a class skill. I kinda like the second one.
    New 2/18/03: Sorcerers and Material Components: Sorcerers, according to the PH rules, must use any components required for spells he casts. While a sorcerer’s knowledge is innate (while a wizard’s comes from study), he still needs to have the proper items to turn that knowledge into active magic. Ryan Dancey described it once at a Gen Con seminar: "The sorcerer doesn’t know how the magic works, he just knows that when he points the stick, shakes his arm in the right way, and yells really hard, he can make fire." Or, as some guy on the net put it (sorry, don’t remember who, though I think it was on Eric Noah’s message board, "My family was always amazed at my ability to climb walls, and I never thought it was strange that I was always eating spiders...." I'm aware that Monte's variant sorcerer doesn't use material components, but I'm talking about the PH sorcerer here.
    New 2/18/03: Not Allowing Familiars: The sorcerer has the option for a familiar as a balancing factor (essentially, at its weakest, a familiar is an Alertness feat that costs 100 gp). Denying all sorcerers the ability to gain a familiar should be compensated with an equivalent ability.

Wizard
    Spell Mastery should be a fully-statted feat and presented in the Feats chapter (see my PH Opinions: Feats article).
    New 2/18/03: Not Allowing Familiars: As mentioned above for sorcerers.
    New 2/18/03: School Specialization and Cantrips: The extra spell per day per spell level a specialist gets also applies to cantrips. The design team made sure there is a cantrip of each school for that exact reason. A specialist wizard doesn’t get the starting PH cantrips from her opposed school, and she couldn’t cast them even if she did.