Talk:Cluster Soldier (3.5e Class)

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My Own Take On This[edit]

At first glance, it looks fairly powerful for a base class. Here are some of the first things that jump out at me to make me think this:

1. d8 Hit Die 2. Average BAB progression 3. Two Good Save progressions 4. 4 skill points per level

I'm comparing this to a cleric. It has the same Hit Die, BAB, and saves (sort of, a cleric has Fort and Will, these guys have Fort and Refl). It has more skill points. I think the weapon proficiencies are about the same (more or less) as the cleric. The armour proficiency is a lot less than a cleric (and this is a balancing factor).

So, moving on...

I get the idea that a mercenary would want to be able to negotiate contracts with clients, however, the general feeling I'm getting from this class is not a Diplomat, but more of a platoon soldier. I'm not sure that pushing Charisma as an important ability is really the right thing. And other than some of the class skills, I don't see any use of Charisma with any of the special abilities granted by this class.

Which brings me to the class skill selection. I can understand why Diplomacy might be there. And maybe Gather Information. But I don't get why Perform is a class skill. Likewise, since these guys are "front line fighters" I don't really know why they have Hide and Move Silently as class skills either. It almost seemed like the class skills were selected based upon a "less-skilled" rogue as opposed to a "more-skilled" fighter. I think removing Gather Info, Perform, Hide, and Move Silently would be appropriate. Also, giving only 2 skill points per level seems more in line with how many class abilities these guys get.

On to Weapon Proficiencies. They get all light simple and light martial weapons. That makes sense. Then they get short spear, spear, and rapier; which I also get. Not sure why scimitar and scythe are in there. And the nunchaku and whip confuse me completely, especially since they are based upon a minimum intelligence score. This is a mercenary troop soldier, right? I think they should have all simple and light martial and leave it at that. Maybe throw in a pole arm of some sort (like the long spear).

The Armour proficiency seems alright, I get light armour only, but most soldiers would probably be trained in the use of shields. I would suggest adding shields (but not tower shields). This goes along with the concept of groups of them fighting together and even gives the possibility of using some of the shield based feats in some of the newer supplement books.

Now to the nitty-gritty of the class...the class special abilities!

Teamwork: This is a great concept. I would change the mechanic slightly. As it stands, all you need is a 20th level cluster fighter with a team of 1st level cluster soldiers and all of them in the group get a +6 (untyped) bonus to their attacks. I think that the idea is that the cluster soldier gets "pumped up" from having his buddies along with him (and they from him) so I would write it something like this:

Teamwork (Ex): A Cluster Soldier gets a +1 morale bonus to all attack rolls for every other Cluster Soldier that is conscious and fighting within 30 feet of him to a maximum of +1. This maximum increases as follows: +2 at 5th, +3 at 9th, +4 at 13th, and +5 at 17th. The Cluster Soldier must have line of sight and line of effect to each other Cluster Soldier within range to count them for the bonus.

Attached: Again, this is a great concept. I would alter slightly how it is written again.

Attached: (Su): A Cluster Soldier separated from other Cluster Soldiers can form a bond with an ally or close friend. The Cluster Soldier chooses a willing ally with which he forms the attachment. The Cluster Soldier and the ally must spend three days together in close proximity (not more than 1000 feet away from each other). After three days, the ally counts as a Cluster Soldier for the purpose of determining the bonuses from Teamwork, Support, Dual Charge, Empathic Link, and other class abilities of the Cluster Soldier. The attached ally receives half of any bonus (round down, minimum +1) the Cluster Soldier receives. If the ally drops unconscious, the bonuses are temporarily lost until the ally regains consciousness. If the ally dies or spends more than 24-hours out of contact with the Cluster Soldier, the bonuses are lost until the attachment is reformed (taking three days).

Support: I'd change just like I did Teamwork but possibly tone down the AC bonus.

Support (Ex): A Cluster Soldier gets a +1 dodge bonus to AC for every other Cluster Soldier that is conscious and fighting withing 30 feet of him to a maximum of +1. This bonus is lost whenever the Cluster Soldier would be denied his dexterity bonus to AC (like when flat-footed or attacked by an unseen attacker). The maximum bonus increases as follows: +2 at 5th, +3 at 10th, +4 at 15th, and +5 at 20th. The Cluster Soldier must have line of sight (and line of effect) to each other Cluster Soldier within range to count them for the bonus.

Empathic Link: I like the idea of this, however, the way it is written, it wouldn't give him any benefit with other Cluster Soldiers, only with an attached Ally. I would change it to apply to other Cluster Soldiers and then the attached ally would get the benefit as appropriate.

Empathic Link (Su): When a Cluster Soldier reaches 8th level he awakens the ability to read the emotions of the other Cluster Soldiers within 30 feet of him getting a general sense of their feelings. This allows a Cluster Soldier to retain the benefits of class abilities (like Teamwork, Support, Dual Charge, etc) even when he doesn't have line of sight to the other Cluster Soldiers. The Cluster Soldier gains a +1 morale bonus to Will saves against fear effects as long as there is another Cluster Soldier (or an attached ally) within 30 feet. Something that would block line of effect will also block this ability.

Stronger Support: is pretty good, but the AC bump has already been handled in my rewrite. So I've changed the focus slightly.

Stronger Support (Su): At 9th level, a Cluster Soldier gains a +2 morale bonus to all Will saves while in battle as long as another Cluster Soldier is within the range of the Empathic Link ability.

Fearless is very appropriate, with one small tweak.

Fearless (Su): A Cluster Soldier is immue to all fear effects as long as another Cluster Soldier is within the range of the Empathis Link ability. An attached ally gains this benefit as well.

Powerful Support is an interesting ability. Since I've already handled the AC bump previously, I'm not sure what to do with it. But I might suggest this.

Powerful Support (Su): At 12th level, a Cluster Soldier gains a +2 morale bonus to Fortitude saves while in battle as long as another Cluster Soldier is within the range of the Empathic Link ability.

I want to add in an ability as well.

Greater Empathy (Su): At 13th level, the range of a Cluster Soldiers Empathic Link increases to 60 feet.

Dual Charge: I like this ability and I want to incorporate it, however, I'm concerned about the multiplier to damage listed. I think it at least needs to be clarified.

Dual Charge (Ex): A Cluster Soldier can delay his initiative to charge with one other Cluster Soldier. There must be a clear path for both Soldiers to charge side by side. A single attack roll is made and the better attack modifier of the two is used to determine if the attack hits. If it does hit, each Soldier rolls damage as if he had struck a critical hit (even if the target is immune to critical hits) and then add the damage up to a single total. This damage is considered to be from a single source (so damage reduction is applied only to the total). If the attack roll would be a critical hit, increase the multiplier appropriately (see the rules for multiplying multipliers in PHB). This ability can only be used once per combat encounter.

Huge Sense of Loss is an ability that reminds me of a barbarians rage ability, but much more reckless and much less balanced. A -4 to AC with a +8 untyped attack bonus is really severe. So I would tone it down a bit.

Huge Sense of Loss (Su): Upon attaining 18th level, the Empathic Link of a Cluster Soldier grows more intense. Whenever a Cluster Soldier within the range of the Empathic Link ability falls in combat (drops to -1 or lower hit points), the Cluster Soldier gains the effects of the Rage. This lasts for a number of rounds equal to one-half of the Cluster Soldiers class level or until the encounter is over. If the fallen ally is cured and rejoins combat, the effects of this ability end as soon as that ally comes within the range of the Empathic Link ability.

Mental Link: I think that an ability like this should allow communication over "great distances" but rather be focused more on the combat aspect.

Mental Link (Su): At 19th level, the Cluster Soldier can communicate telepathically with any other Cluster Soldier within range of the Empathic Link ability during a battle. The two Cluster Soldiers must share a language to communicate in this fashion. This ability allows the Cluster Soldier to communicate with lower level Cluster Soldiers, but does not allow the lower level Soldiers to communicate among themselves.

Unbreakable Support should be the culmination of the class abilities. The amount of bonus from Teamwork and Support is already factored, but I like the change of the bonus type. I think the "can't be flat-footed" comes a bit late in the game and perhaps that should be included in a previous ability. I think a better choice would be "can't be flanked" since that would be in line with a character of 20th level. Here's my first shot at it.

Unbreakable Support (Su): At 20th level, the Cluster Soldier has mastered the battle field with his allies. The bonus to attack from Teamwork becomes an insight bonus (instead of a morale bonus). The bonus to AC from Support becomes an insight bonus (instead of a dodge bonus). The Cluster Solider cannot be flanked as long as there is another Cluster Soldier within the range of the Empathic Link ability. Also, the Cluster Soldier gains a +2 insight bonus to Reflex saves while in battle as long as ther is another Cluster Soldier within the range of the Empathic Link ability.

  • WHEW!!!* That turned into much more than I had originally planned. But I enjoyed it. Hopefully some of my suggestions have merit. I like the concept of this class and I'd like to see it balanced out more. Any suggestions to my suggestions would be greatlly appreciated.

--Skwyd 11:28, 10 April 2007 (MDT)

Would you like to adopt/fix this? I can see it needs some work, and I cannot think of a better candidate :). --Green Dragon 18:14, 10 April 2007 (MDT)
I'd love to take over on this class. I didn't want to "step on any toes" since I'm new around here. Also, I was hoping to get some feedback on my ideas before I go in and start hacking up this class!!--Skwyd 21:25, 10 April 2007 (MDT)
Many of your suggestions seem quite insightful, and--for the most part--I agree. (There are only a couple of minor points to discuss, but the class needs a big overhaul before we even start to address them.) I'd encourage you to make your changes, and then we can start to fine-tune the class. –EldritchNumen 16:30, 17 April 2007 (MDT)
Okay, I've posted my first shot at a revision. I'm still learning a bit about formatting here. I can't figure out how to get the last line on the right side of the table. Also, the original page listed an author and stated that the class is "finished". Am I supposed to indicate my revisions? If so, how would I format that? I guess there is probably a page somewhere that talks about these things, but I'm at work right now and I really need to get back to work. :P --Skwyd 11:29, 18 April 2007 (MDT)
All the formatting problems should now be fixed. --Green Dragon 12:16, 18 April 2007 (MDT)

Excellent flavour[edit]

I can't comment on game balance, but I would give a 9 for flavour. I don't know how the game rating is done, so consider this my participation for the flavour part. I actually am creating a similar class for Lone Wolf RPG, the Star of the White Mountain.
David Latapie ( | @) — blog 09:25, 3 June 2007 (MDT)

I wish I could claim to be the source of this flavour, alas, I just edited the class...I do like the concept as well. And I guess that's why I put in my 3.5 cents on this class :) --Skwyd 20:22, 3 June 2007 (MDT)

This class is too weak.[edit]

To quote Skwyd above...

"At first glance, it looks fairly powerful for a base class. Here are some of the first things that jump out at me to make me think this:
1. d8 Hit Die 2. Average BAB progression 3. Two Good Save progressions 4. 4 skill points per level
I'm comparing this to a cleric. It has the same Hit Die, BAB, and saves (sort of, a cleric has Fort and Will, these guys have Fort and Refl). It has more skill points. I think the weapon proficiencies are about the same (more or less) as the cleric. The armour proficiency is a lot less than a cleric (and this is a balancing factor).

Now, are we missing something? The cleric is a spellcaster! Your Cluster Soldier is not! Do you really want to balance this class by giving it 9th level divine spells? No? Then give it Full BAB and d10 hp! A bonus feat at levels 5, 10, 15 and 20 won't hurt either. Really, what were you thinking? Even with full support from other cluster soldiers this guy can barely keep up with a fighter! Why would anybody play that?

Or was it an NPC class and I just missed something? --Mkill 08:16, 14 June 2007 (MDT)

This also is made by the community, edit away if you would like to, it needs it. --Green Dragon 11:52, 14 June 2007 (MDT)
Absolutely! I took my first pass at balancing the class out, but I know that it could use a lot more work. Please edit it or, if you'd prefer, post your ideas here and I'll continue to update the actual class details! --Skwyd 17:11, 14 June 2007 (MDT)
I thought it was better to share some opinions, if I just start changing major class abilities I might start an edit war... But if you want me to change stuff I will. --Mkill 21:34, 14 June 2007 (MDT)

Changes[edit]

  • changed to real melee class: full BAB and d10 HD
  • weakened Teamwork: necessary because of BAB upgrade
  • removed Leadership: Leadership is inappropriate for some campaigns, especially when there are already many PCs, take it as a normal feat if desired
  • removed bonus change in 20th level ability. If you have an item that grants an insight bonus, and suddenly the bonus type from your class changes and you can't use that item anymore, that's not fun, right? --Mkill 00:27, 15 June 2007 (MDT)
Just a couple comments on the changes. I see where you're coming from with a lot of these changes. For example, I agree that Leadership is not appropriate for all campaigns. It was an ability that the original contributor had in there. I understand the concept and kept it in for that reason (the idea being as you advance in the class, you learn to lead others like you). And the change in the bonus type at 20th level was partly a carry-over from the previous version, but also it is to show that the level of mastery the class has achieved has moved the bonus to something more esoteric in nature. This is similar in concept to the Monk's Perfect Self ability at 20th level (where there creature type changes). Normally, I would agree that if you already have an item that uses an insight bonus, it could cause a conflict, the insight bonus is much less common in magic items (at least in most of the campaigns I've played). Most often both insight and morale bonuses come from spell effects (which are not permanent). Overall, I think that the increased BAB is probably better (with the reduced Teamwork bonus), but then again, I also didn't want to edit this class (from the original post) into some sort of powerhouse. So I tend to err on the side of caution. As a GM, I know that it is easier to give a character an in-game boost (if needed) than it is to "nerf" them down when they get out of hand... anyway, looks good still, any one else have opinions? --Skwyd 10:29, 15 June 2007 (MDT)
The standard D&D classes are limited to one companion (familiar, animal companion, mount), simply because not every group wants to resolve combats for whole armies. So what we could do here is give the Cluster Soldier the ability to take a cohort with him, without the need for the Leadership feat. The cohort must be of ECL equal to the Cluster Soldier -2 and at least half of that ECL must be Cluster Soldier levels.
As for the bonus change, I see your point but "keep it simple" takes precedence here.
As for the BAB, any class that is designed for melee should have a full BAB, unless it has great abilities to boost himself like the psychic warrior (half a psion and bonus feats like the fighter) or the cleric (full armored full caster) . The Cluster Soldier is way way below that. --Mkill 11:45, 15 June 2007 (MDT)

Rating 7/10[edit]

With full BAB I give this class a 7/10 rating, but beware that this is just from looking at it and not playtesting. If you add up all bonuses from the abilities that you gain when there is another Cluster Soldier around, it's about what a Fighter might have that puts his feats in attack, damage, speed and save upgrades.

It may even be on the weak side as you have to add mobility, tactical maneuvers etc just with base feats and equipment. --Mkill 00:32, 15 June 2007 (MDT)

This rating has been nullified with the implementation of the new Rating System. --Green Dragon 14:59, 20 February 2008 (MST)
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