Talk:Apex Predator (4e Class)

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Moved from Sentient, Smilodon Maioribus (4e Race). Original author is User: Argent Fatalis Marasmusine 03:32, 24 January 2012 (MST)


Doing a massive overhaul of this topic, I've completed much of the page itself today in this respect, but there are huge amounts of Feats and Powers and overall balancing issues. Biggest problem? I have no way of testing just how overpowered or underpowered this class is. If anyone is willing to test it in a few games, along with the race, please notify me, I would love some results. Short of that, this is a major work in progress.

--Argent Fatalis (talk) 20:19, 11 August 2012 (MDT)

Okay, let's take a look :)
Firstly, let's look at the natural weapons and armour. I've rewritten some of this section, since 4e doesn't have disarms or sunders - all we need to say is that an AP is always considered armed with their natural weapon, and that they are proficient with them. The weapons themselves should be the equivalent of martial weapons, with a Feat adding something to make them Superior weapons. The claws and fangs are too similar at the moment, they really only differ in their weapon group. A player is likely to only focus on using/improving one or the other, so give them more of a choice, for example make the fangs +3 prof, and the claws +2 prof; or one Brutal and the other High Crit. Marasmusine (talk) 01:20, 20 August 2012 (MDT)
That's terrific to know, as I was not wholly sure (again I am using limited resources and some of it is clearly other editions based on this information). As for the variation between the two offensive means, I am trying to treat them as two different classes of weapons with how they are deployed against monsters; the Saber Fangs are more or less a "finishing" class, used in Daily or Encounter level events due to their extreme damage potential. Where as the Razored Claws are "standard" attack used for most abilities which hope to set up that large attack later on down the road. Agreeably however, I believe it would be reasonable to make them a bit more distinct (perhaps giving the claws a much better proficiency seeing as a bite style attack is logically more difficult to succeed with, particularly with massive fangs like these) and or providing some unique trait to them. I was planning on including a Feat that dealt with the Brutal property exclusively, namely to give the Saber Fangs more usability and reliability (as a roll of 1 could be wholly disastrous in so many ways mechanically for this class, barring how sadistic or realistic the DM hosting the game will treat it).
As always, thank you for the help Marasmusine.
--Argent Fatalis (talk) 14:29, 22 September 2012 (MDT)


It's clear you've put a lot of work into this, but I'll get straight into analyzing it:

Armour Class

I'll compare Enduring Hide to Scale Armor, since they both start at +7. Both can be enchanted, both have improved base AC at higher levels. Enduring Hide goes to +8 at level 4; +9 at 7; +10 at 10; +11 at 13; +12 at 16; +13 at 19; +14 at 22; +15 at 25; +16 at 27; +17 at 30.

Worn armor at higher levels (i.e. magic armor) benefits from improved materials and construction. The base AC goes up +1 every 5 levels (except level 26-30 where it goes up +2). At level 30, the AC bonus before enhancement is +13. Plate armor at level 30 has +14 AC. Scale and Plate also have movement penalty; Enduring Hide does not.

Enduring Hide at level 1 is better than Scale or Plate, and becomes even stronger. Whilst a paladin in plate can also benefit from a +2 AC shield the Apex is fixed with two-handed weapons. It is slightly overpowered for a focused Defender. For a class with a Striker option it is largely overpowered.

Next thing I'll look at is weapons. Marasmusine (talk) 01:14, 21 April 2013 (MDT)

Regarding the Armor Class provided by Natural Toughness,
The amount provided will be adjusted to +1 every 6 levels following the 3rd level, resulting in the following progression; +8 at 4th, +9 at 10th, +10 at 16th, +11 at 22nd, +12 at 28th, and +13 at 30th. It now has a base +13 AC at 30th level, before enhancements.
Or, alternatively, the adjustment can be made even smaller:
The amount provided will be adjusted to +1 every 7 levels following the 3rd level, resulting in the following progression; +8 at 4th, +9 at 11th, +10 at 18th, +11 at 25th, +12 at 30th. It now has a base +12 AC at 30th level, before enhancements.
Conceptually, Enduring Hide should be about even with Scale, but not as good as Plate and certainly lacking the Shield bonuses. An Apex Predator Challenger (the Defender variant) is designed to have "better than average" AC, with a lot of health regeneration and some damage reduction (with appropriate feats, namely Exceptional Toughness); you get hit more often, but take a lot less damage when you do or recover most of it. Apex Predator Vanquishers should have "better than average" AC, but nothing exceptional; they're Strikers with focus on damage output not survivability, albeit they are slightly "better than average" for defenses, but lack any real defensive strength.
I could provide Challengers an AC bonus larger than that of the Vanquisher's. However, any alternatives that come to mind would be much appreciated.
--Argent Fatalis (talk) 01:27, 21 April 2013 (MDT)
I can only suggest using the formatting used for all other armors. At each half-tier (1st, 6th, 10th, etc) just decide what you want the AC to be at that point, rather than using a formula.

Admittedly I did not even think of that, which is a very simple solution to a fairly significant problem. Problem solved, I suppose in that case?

--Argent Fatalis (talk) 08:58, 22 April 2013 (MDT)
Features and Powers overview

Since the classes uses non-standard power progression, it would be good to present all the features and powers and power improvements that the class gets, in order. I will try it now for the heroic tier, with my suggestion for AC improvements.

I may have missed it, but you don't explicitly say how many powers you get at 1st level. The power list says you "may freely choose whichever abilities they desire" (so is that all of them?) The builds show 2 at wills, 1 encounter, and either 1 daily or 1 utility, so I'll guess that.

Level Feats Known Class Features and Powers
1 1 Feline Guilde, Opportunistic Finesse, Hungering Fury
Bloody Sustenance, Force of Nature, Devour
Bestial Proficiency
Feral Challenge
Mortal Bite
Hemorrhaging Wounds
Two At-Will powers
One Encounter power
One Daily or Utility power
2 +1
4 +1 Ability score increase
Natural Toughness
5 Improved Enduring Hide
6 +1 True Instinct
8 +1 Ability score increase
10 +1 Improved Enduring Hide

It looks like the attack powers improve at the start of each tier. Compare with the Essentials classes that have one defining encounter power that improves over level. Power Strike, Holy Smite, Disruptive Shot etc have their damage bonuses at level 7, 17, 27 - and have Improved versions (e.g. can use more than once per encounter) at levels 3, 7, 13, 17, etc. Other features and powers are distributed evenly so there are no "dead" levels.

I don't know if you intend to have more powers beyond level 1, but at the moment you have lots of dead levels, and its really top-heavy. Marasmusine (talk) 01:55, 22 April 2013 (MDT)

Conceptually this is how I imagine it functioning;
1st level Apex picks 2 At-Wills (Permanent without retraining), 1 Encounter, 1 Daily or Utility. These Encounters and Dailies/Utilities may be selected from on free will; you can choose from the entire library whenever you wish, but you may only expend them as appropriate. For example, you can choose Lethal Clarity for one fight, and the immediate next you can choose Concussive Roar; it still eats up 1 of your (4 at maximum) Encounter powers per Encounter. It is similar in concept to 3.5e's Spontaneous Casting and the ability to pull from any spells or abilities you know.
Dead levels if sort of the trade off; you are exceptionally skilled at what you do (grabbing, knocking prone, slowing, surprising, along with the obvious factor of damage), but you are explicitly weak in areas; you lack any form of ranged attacks (you literally cannot even pick up a bow to use it), and become a below average Striker if you're unable to set up combos of attacks (say a creature is immune to grabs).
I think I understand your overall point; it needs to explicitly state how it functions within 4e's limits, otherwise it gives the appearance you can do all of these at once. Please correct me if I am wrong about this, or if the concept flat out cannot work without being hand waved by a generous DM.
--Argent Fatalis (talk) 08:58, 22 April 2013 (MDT)
I don't like the idea for two reasons. Firstly, they already have the features of a striker and defender, and now they have the versatiltiy of a Wizard. Secondly, all their features and powers are front-loaded. Straight off the bat, I've got 9 features and 4 powers to manage, and I can reselect powers every encounter (where I'd say on average a class has 5 or 6 starting features and powers combined). Then almost every time I level up I get nothing new apart from 7 hit points. Worse, at that level 9 where I get nothing, my encounter and daily attacks are still balanced for level 1 (e.g. causing 1[W]) whilst other classes have their level 9 daily attacks (or other damage bump). It doesn't really matter if the class can't use ranged attacks (any melee build class is going to be in melee 99% of the time) or if a creature can't be grabbed (there aren't any creatures that can't be grabbed), that's not a trade-off for boring advancement.
Is there any way you would spread the features out over the heroic tier?. Marasmusine (talk) 06:24, 23 April 2013 (MDT)
I've put together a rough comparison between the Apex Predator and the Berserker (from heroes of the feywild, since that's also a Martial and Primal Striker and Defender), if you think that might be helpful. Also, I might write up a variant of your class with what I think would be a more elegant build. Would that be okay? Marasmusine (talk) 05:53, 25 April 2013 (MDT)
Certainly, I would be most excited to see the result; there are two variants still as you've seen, the Vanquisher as the Striker-Controller and the Challenger as the Defender-Controller. Whichever you prefer, or both, I would like to see some comparisons of and features. My apologies however, I am not immediately able to reply to the other topics presented, but a parse as an example would be something worth reviewing for this weekend as I will be making corrections and adjustments.
--Argent Fatalis (talk) 15:24, 25 April 2013 (MDT)

Okay, this is rough comparison with the Berserker at level 1. The berserker has three builds, I have chosen "frozen lands" since it most closly matches (fort/will, two-handed weapons). I'll be comparing it with the Vanquisher Apex. Note that the Berserker has striker and defender features but not at the same time - they have to chose between raging and defending allies. I've converted damage die into their averages.

Hit Points

Berserker: 15 + Con; +6 per level; 8 + Con surges.
Apex: 15 + Con; +7 per level; 7 + Con surges; Regeneration 1 for most of the time.


Berserker: +3 Fort, +1 Will, +3 AC (hide armour). When being a Defender, AC goes up to +5
Apex: +1 Fort, +2 Will, +7 AC, about half the time one enemy has -5 to hit.


Neither class has ranged attacks.
Berserker: Greataxe, +2 prof, 6.5 damage, high crit
Apex: Fangs, +2 prof, 7 damage, high crit


Berserker: 3 trained from choice of 7
Apex: 3 trained, and another 2 trained from choice of 5; +2 stealth, +2 athletics


Berserker: -1 speed (from armour)
Apex: Long jumper, shifting from Elusiveness (btw you don't need to state that shifting doesn't provoke opportunity attacks), +2 initiative; Large sized makes it easier to get into contact with an enemy, but may have to squeeze on some maps.

Defender features

Berserker: Defender Aura (mark adjacent enemies, turns off when in striker mode); OAs with +4.5 damage
Apex: Challenge (marks one enemy), large size means the apex is much better at blocking enemies.

Striker features

Berserker: +3.5 to +4.5 damage on at-wills (when in striker mode)
Apex: Opp. Finesse, +1 damage per turn (if conditions occur about half the time); Hem. Wounds average 6 ongoing damage on a crit, which on average is +2.5 damage an encounter.

I haven't analyzed the attack fully powers yet, except to notice that some Apex powers seem unnecessarily accurate (seize has a whopping +3 bonus to hit and can target a non-AC defense).

I would say that the Apex has better hit points, defenses, skills and mobility. The berserker has better damage output when he turns off his defender feature. Marasmusine (talk) 03:04, 26 April 2013 (MDT)

As far as Defenders go, how does the Challenger Apex stack up against a Striker-Defender in your opinion? Thus far it seems to be that the major issues the Apex is running into is AC (which should be better than hide, but I can live with being worse than scale), everything else I can tolerate given they're supposed to be absolutely incapable of using ranged weapons (realistically it would be near impossible for an Apex to even finagle a crossbow into any sort of real use in combat), whereas other races/classes have hands, and are Large creatures with all the associated weaknesses and strengths (mainly squeezing and difficult terrain). Elusiveness may have its shifting component removed, seeing as you can take a step following its use anyway.
My major concern is to how well, or poorly, a Challenger stacks up against other Defenders as a Defender-Controller once the AC is adjusted.
--Argent Fatalis (talk) 03:59, 27 April 2013 (MDT)
In terms of mobility, beyond an Apex's size advantage (which can be a weakness too if exploited and cannot be readily toggled), I don't see them particularly overpowering in the mobility department. Large is plenty, especially for a melee class (Sovereign Beast, Heroes of the Feywild), in terms of good and bad; squeezing alone is just bad news, as is difficult terrain.
Also worthy of note, level 22 for the Berserker eclipses an Apex in terms of mobility with "Limitless Advance". That power alone, as a Move Action At-Will is absolutely fantastic; while it certainly is level 22, the Apex relies on Encounters or Dailies for any form of mobility.
AC is still my largest concern; I would rather have Apex Predators eat more damage and heal it away readily than avoid it all together.
--Argent Fatalis (talk) 04:07, 27 April 2013 (MDT)
Sorry about the delay in feedback. I've been working on an alternate build with higher HP and lower AC. I'm using a lot of your concepts, but perhaps moving features into different design spaces. When I think I've nailed the heroic tier, I'll come back and compare your attack and damage rates with what I think is balanced. I've also noticed that you're a hell of a lot better at writing fluff than me! Forgive me if I copy some of it. Marasmusine (talk) 01:31, 27 May 2013 (MDT)
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