Talk:Combat School (3.5e Variant Rule)

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Mind if I help you clean this up? Armond 12:20, 12 April 2007 (MDT)

Whew, thats a bit of work. All the feats on that page really should have their own page and be linked to by this page... --Green Dragon 20:37, 12 April 2007 (MDT)
I never did get back to that chain. It's been on the back-burner for a while. The goal was to finish writing it before I broke it into pieces. This was before I knew about {{embedding}}. (These days, I tend to write and format my pieces offline to avoid such issues.) Go ahead, take a fresh look at it, look for issues, make sure all the bonuses are named, ID balance issues, and we'll get this puppy into shape. --Dmilewski 07:07, 13 April 2007 (MDT)
Did I forget to mention that these are substitution levels, NOT feats? (Yes, I put them in the wrong place yeah many moon ago.) Where should substitution levels go? --Dmilewski 05:46, 15 April 2007 (MDT)
Where do you think would be a good place for substitution levels? I don't really know where they would fit... --Green Dragon 17:58, 16 April 2007 (MDT)
Substitution levels, not feats? Oh... Well, that messes up my sense of balance. Armond 23:11, 16 April 2007 (MDT)
Screw it. Command Decision. I change my mind. They're not feats. Good. Now go to town. This small problem is ALL solved. --Dmilewski 17:59, 17 April 2007 (MDT)
I'm confused - you say you changed your mind (from them being substitution levels) to them not being feats? Armond 13:42, 25 April 2007 (MDT)
Terminal confusion. Excuse me. I actually constradict myself inside the article. I meant to say THEY ARE FEATS. That was the original intent. The goal was to make a feat chain that gets very powerful. To reach its full potential, you must spend 17 feats in a row.--Dmilewski 20:55, 25 April 2007 (MDT)
Now THAT's something I'm interested in. I'm goin nuts. Armond 21:01, 25 April 2007 (MDT)

Chi Stance[edit]

I restructured Chi Stance a little. It should be clearer. As it was written, it looks like you lost the benefits of this feat when you lost your balance. You only lose the benefits of feats dependent on this feat if you lose your balance. --Dmilewski 07:15, 26 April 2007 (MDT)

Warding Breath[edit]

These feats are intended to substitute for armor without being better than armor.

At 10th level, Full Plate +2 is reasonable. That +10 to AC. At 20th level, +8 Full Plate + 5 Enhancement is normal enough, or +13. The simplest way to simulate this is to give a 2/3 level Armor + Armor Enhancement bonus. --Dmilewski 07:37, 26 April 2007 (MDT)

Design Notes[edit]

These are preliminary notes.

  • Discourage casters from taking these feats
  • Make them most attractive to Fighters and Rogues.
  • Make this a fun alternative for monks.
  • Discourage barbarians
  • A fighter gains 10 feats, a character gains seven feats. This chain needs 17 feats to take a fighter through its full potential. (With requirements, you need more than that to fully exploit this direction. Good. Lots and lots of reason to pick a fighter here.)
  • Make compatible with low-magic settings.
  • Avoid unnecessary damage increases
  • Make allowance for armor to scale in low-magic game
  • Give a character reason to wear the armor once the bonus exceeds their armor
  • Provide flexibility against a wide variety of creatures.
  • Provide better and scaling armor than no armor, but not better than real armor
  • Provide a substitute for a magic weapon, but not actually be better than a magic weapon.
  • These have got to work with without magic weapons.
  • Retain linear-scaling of the class.
  • I mildly (or majorly) do some feat no-no's. Good.
  • Account for the cheesiness that you see in duals. (You can never fully account for this.)
  • May nor may not duplicate a published feat. I no longer know all feats and haven't for years.

--Dmilewski 11:27, 18 May 2007 (MDT)

I've done some redesign. Instead of being based on chi, this system represents basic combat training. It is easy for a martial class to take this at first level. Beyond that, these feats are much harder to get into, making them expensive for clerics and druids. --Dmilewski 11:27, 18 May 2007 (MDT)

Checking the objectives[edit]

  • Discourage casters from taking these feats
  • Make them most attractive to Fighters and Rogues.
  • Make this a fun alternative for monks.
  • Discourage barbarians

Well, this feat chain is only realisticly available to fighters, since no other character has the feat slots for it. Take "Astonishing Leap", one of the "Lesser" feats. This one alone has 8 feats as prerequisites. Eight feats, thats how many human non-fighters non-psychic warriors will get in their whole career before Epic level. By the way Psychic Warriors don't benefit from Combat School, too, because they don't have BAB +1 on first level. Monks are screwed, too, because they get Improved Unarmed Strike for free at first level, Improved Grapple is a bonus feat and they don't need Trained Stance because Balance is a class skill. So everything Combat School gives them is superfluous, but they still need that feat for most of the other Combat School stuff.

In my opinion it's not a good idea to concentrate the design, on single-class characters too much, as there will be fighter-barbarians or fighter-rogues, too. Most people forget that, especially in those tiring "the fighter needs a fix" discussions.

If you want to restrict feats to higher levels, it would be better to restrict them by base attack bonus, not by sheer number of prerequisites.

  • A fighter gains 10 feats, a character gains seven feats. This chain needs 17 feats to take a fighter through its full potential. (With requirements, you need more than that to fully exploit this direction. Good. Lots and lots of reason to pick a fighter here.)

This is actually bad. You leave the fighter no breathing space to do other stuff but Combat School. If all feats are spent here, where does he get tripping, exotic weapon proficiencies, AOO feats, Whirlwind Attack etc. At the moment, the only build where you really profit from Combat School is a full combat school single class fighter. But as a single-class fighter, I want to take all kinds of feats, not just one chain. Just because a fighter has lots of feat slots doesn't mean he can waste many of them. 7 or 8 feats for one chain is already a lot.

Take the Combat Form feats in PHB II as an example. The basic idea is similar, but you only get synergy once, when you have 4 or more feats of the chain. This is well enough. That way, a fighter can still concentrate on his main ability.

  • Make compatible with low-magic settings.

? You can't really optimize for DM houserules, and there are no official guidelines for low-magic settings. Do you mean a "low wealth level" campaign?

  • Avoid unnecessary damage increases

More damage doesn't hurt the fighter, but yes, that's not the main problem of the fighter. It's rather the lack of abilities beyond dealing damage, in every respect (skills, healing, mobility, countering magic, perception, social interaction ...).

  • Provide a substitute for a magic weapon, but not actually be better than a magic weapon.

The only real difference a magic weapon gives is to overcome DR/magic. Everything else can be substituted by bumping attack and damage in other ways. That's why I don't understand why you give enhancement bonuses. A magic weapon is often the easiest item to come by, it's more specialized stuff that's hard to find. A fighter who gets an enhancement bonus to his weapon saves money, but that's it.

  • Retain linear-scaling of the class.

Actually, the linear scaling is one of the problems about the fighter. Most other classes, especially the full casters, scale at least quadratic. That's why the fighter is good at level 1-5, fine at level 6-10 but gets weaker in comparison at every level after that. If you want to boost fighters, you can leave the low levels alone, concentrate on level 11 onwards.

  • I mildly (or majorly) do some feat no-no's. Good.

It's no problem to push the guidelines of game design, it's just a question of how good you are at keeping the game consistent.

--Mkill 02:48, 26 July 2007 (MDT)

BAB requirements[edit]

I just noticed that you have written something about BAB requirements here on the page, but not in the feats themselves. Maybe you want to fix that and put the BAB requirement in all individual feats. --Mkill 04:21, 26 July 2007 (MDT)

sample character[edit]

Dwarf Fighter Lvl 4 (Tank build)

Elite array: Str 16, Dex 13, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 6 (Str was raised at 4th level)

  • dwarf abilities (selection): +2 to saves against spells and spell-like effects, +2 saves against poison, stability +4

AC: +1 Dex +8 (mw full plate) +1 enhancement +4 tower shield +1 enhancement = 25 (usual for a well-equiped tank at that level, but this is free)

Atk: dwarven waraxe +3 (Str) +4 (BAB) +1 (mw) = +8, damage 1d10 + 6 (2x Str) (pretty good)

Total number of feats: 10

On the one hand, this is too good, because at level 4 (!) you already have 3 more feats than other characters in their whole career. On the other hand, this is bad, because you spent all your feat slots on this build, meaning zero variation. But you have to if you want any of the Lesser Combat School feats at level 6, when they are available.

The other thing that sucks is that you gain abilities that don't synergize well. Full Plate is essential for survival on the front line (at least at level 4), which means that Balance ranks are useless (low dex and ACP), and +2 AC when unarmored is not much compared to +8 AC full plate. You're not slowed down as a dwarf anyway.

The one point where this guy has a huge edge over usual fighters is grappling, especially grappling defense (Str +2 BAB +4 dwarf +4 Imp Grapple +4 counts as large +4 =) +18!! And that's without any attempt to really optimize it.

It's too bad that all bonuses are enhancement bonuses, which don't stack with standard weapon enchantments. So it's a waste of money to buy enchanted weapons. Even if you go for a weapon with special effects, you still waste that first +1 bonus that you can't avoid. Probably the best here is multiclassing into Artificer, because then you can put special abilities in with infusions.

Actually, this leaves the question how to equip the guy. Level 4 gives 5,400 gp to spend, with the most expensive item possible at 2,700 gp. An axe +1 only gives +1 damage for 2300 gp, meh. Cloak of resistance +1 or amulet of natural armor +1 might be good. Or a brooch of shielding. Potions of Enlarge and Healing. --Mkill 05:24, 26 July 2007 (MDT)

Expert Strike or Trained Strike?[edit]

The feat Expert Strike (DnD Feat) is called "Trained Strike" in all prerequisites, even though the link behind the entry is correct. Please fix that, it's very confusing. --Mkill 07:55, 26 July 2007 (MDT)

Feat Stacking[edit]

You mentioned how other styles of feats stack, such as the Sorcerer Heritage feats. I'm going to look at those, then review these feats. I'll see how those ideas mesh. It looks like an example of what I called "synergy feat". Or maybe not. With a baby in the house, my review time is limited. --Dmilewski 15:09, 26 July 2007 (MDT)

It's pretty simple.
a) you have a feat with effect A, and when you have 4 or more feats of a certain time, you get double the benefit of A.
b) You have a feat that grants something for each feat, or every 2 feats of a certain type.
Btw, the Combat Form feats are in PHB II, Sorcerer Heritage feats are in Complete Arcane, and Lords of Madness and the Fiendish Codex also have a feat chains.
And please take your time with the reviews, we don't want a future roleplayer to starve because daddy was busy game designing :) --Mkill 04:26, 27 July 2007 (MDT)
My initial train of thought takes me here: The best approach is to redesign all the fighter feats to build off the other fighter feats!!! .... Yeah, right. I am NOT going to redesign the basic game, even if that makes sense. I've got more thinking to do here. This stuff needs to simmer in my brain. I am considering multiple designs and seeing which ideas work, and new things become possible because of that.
I really need to take a little time to revise the design part of the document, and explain the reasons behind some of the choices. --Dmilewski 05:01, 27 July 2007 (MDT)


I've been reviewing the lessons of this exercise. I think this an interesting endeavor, but I think that I have lost my aim. It does what it purports to do, which is to explore deep feat trees. It is flawed, however, in that it does not distinctively lead a player to better or more unique things.

As far as development goes, I think that I came up with some fun abilities that works well with the fighter. I very much like some of these abilities, so I will change those into variant class features or more general feats. --Dmilewski 11:55, 17 August 2007 (MDT)

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