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  1. #1
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    I started this thread after reading the plan and seeing the request to put the chapter and topic into the subject line... if need be please put this into one of the other race threads or vice versa.

    The following is a (simple) system I have developed to approximate the strength of races (and perhaps even classes though I’ve not used it for such). This first post will deal with the current PHB versions of each race and serve as an example of how the system works so that when I post the Birthright races you can see the differences and variance of power from the PHB to the Birthright races (or lack thereof). If you disagree with any of my takes on any of the below point totals please present your case and I will (as time permits) attempt to address your concerns… This is my own opinion based off of a (semi-logical) point system please do not take this as unwavering truth ;-)


    First of the assumptions:

    1) Ability score adjustments in the PHB are balanced (some might disagree, but I’m going off of the DMG rules).
    2) Size categories are balanced (again some might disagree, but WotC seems to think so).

    Type of Racial Ability Points

    Great Weakness -5
    Moderate Weakness -3
    Weakness -1
    Insignificant .5*
    Minor 1
    Moderate 3
    Powerful 5
    * This is primarily used for Human Cultural Traits for Birthright (due to their lesser nature)

    Modifiers**
    Conditional (Rare) +/-0
    Conditional (Restrictive) +/-0
    Conditional (Uncommon +/-1
    Conditional (Common) +/-2
    Player Chosen +3
    ** Only use one of these and halve the modifier when in conjunction with Human Cultural Traits. Also note that the conditions do depend somewhat on the GM and adventure, but I am thinking of this from a purely mechanical viewpoint not from any specific campaign.

    Humans:
    Extra Feat: 8 points (Powerful; Player chosen).
    Extra Skills: 8 points (Powerful; Player chosen).
    Favored Class (Any): 4 (Minor; Player chosen [I say this b/c essentially humans do in a way chose their favored class by being careful how they take class levels]).
    Total Points: 20.

    Dwarves:
    Darkvision: 7 (Powerful; Conditional [common]).
    Slower than Normal Speed: -7 (Great Weakness; Conditional [common])
    Stonecunning: 4 (Moderate; Conditional [uncommon]).
    +2 vs. Poison: 4 (Moderate; Conditional [uncommon]).
    +2 vs. Spells/Spell-like effects: 5 (Moderate; Conditional [common]).
    +1 vs. Orcs, etc: 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    +4 vs. Giants: 3 (Moderate; Conditional [restrictive]).
    +2 to Appraise: 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    +2 to Craft: 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Automatic Languages: 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Favored Class (Fighter): 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Total Points: 21.

    Elves:

    Trance: 5 (Moderate; Conditional [common]).
    Low-light Vision: 5 (Moderate; Conditional [common]).
    Immunity to Sleep: 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    +2 vs. Enchantment: 3 (Moderate; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Proficiencies: 3 (Moderate; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Elf Senses: 5 (Moderate; Conditional [common]).
    Automatic Languages: 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Favored Class (Wizard): 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Total Points: 24.

    Gnomes:
    Low-light Vision: 5 (Moderate; Conditional [common]).
    +2 vs.Illusions: 3 (Moderate; Conditional [restrictive]).
    +1 vs.Goblins, etc: 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    +4 vs. Giants: 3 (Moderate; Conditional [restrictive]).
    +2 to Listen: 3 (Minor; Conditional [common]).
    +2 to Alchemy: 2 (Minor; Conditional [uncommon])
    Automatic Languages: 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Speak with animals (burrowing): 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Cantrips (as a group): 5 (Moderate; Conditional [common]).
    Favored Class (Illusionist): 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Total Points: 25.

    Half-Elves:
    Low-light Vision: 5 (Moderate; Conditional [common]).
    Immunity to Sleep: 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    +2 vs. Enchantment: 3 (Moderate; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Elven Blood: 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Elf Senses: 3 (Minor; Conditional [common]).
    Automatic Languages: 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Favored Class (Any): 4 (Minor; Player chosen [see humans above]).
    Total Points: 18.

    Half-Orc:

    Darkvision: 7 (Powerful; Conditional [common]).
    Orc Blood: 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Automatic Languages: 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Favored Class (Barbarian): 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Total Points: 10.

    Halfling:
    +2 to Climb: 3 (Minor; Conditional [common]).
    +2 to Jump: 3 (Minor; Conditional [common]).
    +2 to Move Silently: 3 (Minor; Conditional [common]).
    +2 to Listen: 3 (Minor; Conditional [common]).
    +1 to saving throws: 7 (Powerful; Conditional [common]).
    +2 vs. Fear: 3 (Moderate; Conditional [restrictive]).
    +1 to thrown: 3 (Moderate; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Automatic Languages: 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Favored Class (Rogue): 1 (Minor; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Total Points: 27.

    PHB Racial Ranking:

    Halflings (27)
    Gnomes (25)
    Elves (24)
    Dwarves (21)
    Humans (20)
    Half-elves (18)
    Half-orcs (10)

    If you have any comments/criticisms on the above please be constructive with them... it will help yourself, the designers, and myself in the long run to make the Birthright conversion even better than it already is.

    Thanks,
    Joseph

  2. #2
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    Now for the Birthright Races:

    Human:
    Anuirean
    +1 to Will: 3 (Minor; Conditional [common])
    +1 to Bluff: 1 (Insignificant; Conditional [uncommon])
    +1 to Sense Motive: 1 (Insignificant; Conditional [uncommon])
    +1 to Knowledge (Nobility): .5 (Insignificant; Conditional [restrictive])
    Total Points: 25.5

    Brecht
    +1 to Initiative: 1.5 (Insignificant; Conditional [common])
    +1 to Reflex: 3 (Minor; Conditional [common])
    Cultural Class Skills: .5 (Insignificant; Conditional [restrictive])*
    Total Points: 25

    *My reading of “are considered class skills for you at first level” means that they are only considered class skills at first level is this a correct reading?

    Khanasi
    +1 to Diplomacy: 1 (Insignificant; Conditional [uncommon])
    +1 to Knowledge (any): 1 (Insignificant; Conditional [uncommon])
    +1 Spellcraft: 1 (Insignificant; Conditional [uncommon])
    Cultural Class Skills: .5 (Insignificant; Conditional [restrictive])*
    Total Points: 23.5

    Rjurik
    +1 to Fortitude: 3 (Minor; Conditional [common])
    +1 to Wilderness Lore: .5 (Insignificant; Conditional [restrictive])
    Cultural Class Skills: .5 (Insignificant; Conditional [restrictive])*
    Total Points: 24

    Vos
    +2 to Strength for purposes of carrying capacity: 3 (Minor; Conditional [common])
    +1 to Wilderness Lore (cold/tundra): .5 (Insignificant; Conditional [restrictive])
    Cultural Class Skills: .5 (Insignificant; Conditional [restrictive])*
    Total Points: 24

    Dwarves
    +2 AC vs. Orog, etc.: 3 (Moderate; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Increased Density: 6 (Powerful; Conditional [uncommon]).
    Enduring Strength: 5 (Moderate; Conditional [common]).
    Total Points: 35

    Elves
    Proficiency (short sword): .5 (Insignificant; Conditional [restrictive])
    Timeless: 3 (Moderate; Conditional [restrictive]).
    Immunity to Natural Disease: 4 (Moderate; Conditional [uncommon]).
    Natural Stride: 4 (Moderate; Conditional [uncommon]).
    Alignment Resriction: -1 (Minor, Conditional [restrictive])
    Total Points: 39

    Gnomes (none in Birthright)

    Half-elves
    +2 vs. Disease: 2 (Minor; Conditional [uncommon])
    +2 vs. aging: 1 (Minor; Conditional [rare])
    Total Points: 21

    Half-orcs (None in Birthright)

    Halflings
    Shadow Sense: 7 (Powerful; Conditional [common]).
    Total Points: 34

    Birthright Ranking:

    Elves (39)
    Dwarves (35)
    Halflings (34)
    Humans (23.5-25.5)
    Half-elves (21)

    PHB-Birthright Comparison

    Halflings 27-37 (+10… 37% increase compared to PHB version)
    Elves 24-39 (+15… 62% increase compared to PHB version)
    Dwarves 21-35 (+14… 67% increase compared to PHB version)
    Humans 20-[23.5-25.5] (+3.5-5.5… 18-28% increase compared to PHB version)
    Half-elves 18-21 (+3… 17% increase compared to PHB version)

    So what can I say in light of the above rankings and comparison of the races:

    1) Halflings gain a lesser percentage increase in power over their PHB counterparts, than either elves or dwarves, but slightly more than humans or half-elves. They are a close third in power to the elves.
    2) Elves in Birthright are more powerful than any of the other races. They also gain a greater percentage increase in their total power when compared to their PHB counterparts. Finally, they are almost twice as powerful than either human or half-elves Birthright characters.
    3) Dwarves are second overall in power and gain significantly over their PHB relatives. They like halflings and elves are quite a bit more powerful than humans.
    4) The various human cultures vary in power and do not gain near as much of an increase in power as elves and dwarves over their PHB counterparts.
    5) Half-elves are still at the bottom of the rung power wise and like humans they do not gain near as much of an increase in power as halflings, elves, and dwarves over their PHB counterparts.

    Now that I’ve taken the time to break down the PHB and Birthright races if you have any comments/suggestions/criticisms of the above ranking system please post them and if you may some constructive thoughts on how either this system can be used to help balance (or prove the balance of) the races, how it can be tweaked and made more accurate, or some other advice or observation that is relevant.
    Thank You,
    Joseph Miller

  3. #3
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    Offhand, I`d say I really like your thought process behind developing this
    system. Its greatest strength is that it gives you a very good idea of
    whether a race is dramatically unbalanced relative to another. While I
    think a different approach could be more useful, ultimately balancing the
    races using a combination of your system and mine (I use the word "mine"
    loosely) might be the best way to come up with a good result.

    However, my chief criticisms are as follows:

    1. Overall I think that your system is not specific enough when you get
    down to the nitty gritty. It gives you a really good idea of whether a race
    is vastly over or underpowered relative to another, but when you are in the
    tweaking phase of getting everything perfectly equalized it becomes less
    useful.

    The analogy I`d use is that your system is like using a telescope to find a
    distant planet, and that my system is studying an organism on that planet
    using a microscope. You can`t find an organism with a telescope, but it
    does a great job of telling you where to look. On the other hand, a
    microscope focuses on such small details that you may miss something as
    large as a planet.

    2. I disagree on some of the specific values you`ve assigned to different
    abilities, but I do like the general paradigm and mode of thinking that
    this system uses.

    For instance, I think that a +1 to a saving throw is quite a bit better
    than insignificant. Along the same lines increased density is WAY better
    than moderate/conditional[restrictive]. I would say at least 1/4th of
    attacks you take are bludgeoning, and taking half damage from each of those
    is just sweet. Taking half damage from 1/3-1/4th of all attacks is in a
    way, on average, like taking 12-16% less damage overall.

    I speak from experience because I`ve had many PC dwarves pick the increased
    density ability from the 2e Player`s Option: Skills & Powers (in non-BR
    settings) and it has proved immensely useful time and again. Off the bat,
    you fear club-wielding ogres or giants a lot less, zombies are almost
    completely nonthreatening, and a dragon`s crush or tail slap becomes much
    less cause for concern. Also anyone trying to use martial arts against you
    is toast, because kicks and punches are all bludgeoning attacks. Oil of
    Impact? Ha!

    At 06:41 AM 2/6/2003 +0100, you wrote:
    >This post was generated by the Birthright.net message forum.
    > You can view the entire thread at:
    http://www.birthright.net/read.php?TID=1274
    >
    > jaldaen wrote:
    > Now for the Birthright Races:
    >
    >Human:
    >Anuirean
    >+1 to Will: 1.5 (Insignificant; Conditional [common])
    >+1 to Bluff: 1 (Insignificant; Conditional [uncommon])
    >+1 to Sense Motive: 1 (Insignificant; Conditional [uncommon])
    >+1 to Knowledge (Nobility): .5 (Insignificant; Conditional [restrictive])
    >Total Points: 24

    >*My reading of “are considered class skills for you at first level” means
    that they >are only considered class skills at first level is this a
    correct reading?

    I don`t believe so. I think they permanently become class skills.

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  4. #4
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    Originally posted by Shade
    Offhand, I`d say I really like your thought process behind developing this
    system. Its greatest strength is that it gives you a very good idea of
    whether a race is dramatically unbalanced relative to another. While I
    think a different approach could be more useful, ultimately balancing the
    races using a combination of your system and mine (I use the word "mine"
    loosely) might be the best way to come up with a good result.
    Mine is meant to be much more overarching than your "feat" based system... though I would put forward that you could easily adapt my approach to yours... as you mention in your racial balance thread how although some of the humans gain more "feats" than others that those "feats" are not necessarily equal (IIRC).

    Originally posted by Shade
    However, my chief criticisms are as follows:

    1. Overall I think that your system is not specific enough when you get
    down to the nitty gritty. It gives you a really good idea of whether a race
    is vastly over or underpowered relative to another, but when you are in the
    tweaking phase of getting everything perfectly equalized it becomes less
    useful.
    A fair criticism though I would put forward that we can never really "perfectly" balance the races (not even WotC has claimed that, yet... ;-)... only get them to the point were they are approximately balanced.

    Though as you said both of our approaches have strengths and weaknesses... so perhaps the best approach would be to use the two concepts to check and reaffirm... as much as that is possible ;-)

    Originally posted by Shade
    2. I disagree on some of the specific values you`ve assigned to different
    abilities, but I do like the general paradigm and mode of thinking that
    this system uses.

    For instance, I think that a +1 to a saving throw is quite a bit better
    than insignificant. Along the same lines increased density is WAY better
    than moderate/conditional[restrictive]. I would say at least 1/4th of
    attacks you take are bludgeoning, and taking half damage from each of those
    is just sweet. Taking half damage from 1/3-1/4th of all attacks is in a
    way, on average, like taking 12-16% less damage overall.
    So than perhaps the +1 a saving throw should be minor and for the increased density perhaps Powerful/conditional [restrictive]... this would btw have the same effect as Moderate conditional (common)... are these good compromises?

    Originally posted by Shade
    I don`t believe so. I think they permanently become class skills.
    I posted a thread on this as it is slightly confusing and could be clearer.

    Thanks,
    Joseph Miller

  5. #5
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    >Though as you said both of our approaches have strengths and weaknesses...
    so perhaps the best approach would be to use the two concepts to check and
    reaffirm... as much as that is possible ;-)

    I think this is a good idea :o


    >So than perhaps the +1 a saving throw should be minor and for the
    increased density perhaps Powerful/conditional [restrictive]... this would
    btw have the same effect as Moderate conditional (common)... are these good
    compromises?

    IMO it is a powerful ability, and should be at least uncommon.. an ability
    you get to use in some form or fashion every adventure should be uncommon
    at the very least, right?

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  6. #6
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    Originally posted by Shade
    I think this is a good idea :o

    >So than perhaps the +1 a saving throw should be minor and for the
    increased density perhaps Powerful/conditional [restrictive]... this would
    btw have the same effect as Moderate conditional (common)... are these good
    compromises?

    IMO it is a powerful ability, and should be at least uncommon.. an ability
    you get to use in some form or fashion every adventure should be uncommon
    at the very least, right?
    So Increased Density should be Powerful conditional (uncommon)... and here is an explaination of frequencies:

    Common: Is useful on a daily or almost daily basis.
    Uncommon: Is likely to be used at least once during an adventure.
    Rare: Unlikely to be a part of every adventure, but is a possibility for some.
    Restrictive: Applies to only a particular usually DM controlled circumstance.

    Note that I will probably be modifying the description and points of the above races as I come across inconsistancies or have them pointed out (such as the ones Shade just did).

    Thanks,
    Joseph

    PS: I have amended the above Birthright point totals to reflect the changes discussed above... these make dwarves essentially gain as much as elves do in their translation to Birthright and increases the percentage increase in power for the human cultures.

  7. #7
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    Now unfortunately I do not have the Birthright CS as I donated it to my local university's gaming club... so I was wondering if someone would be kind enough to put down the human cultural modifiers so that I can perhaps come up with some suggestions that might be "balanced" according to the above system.

    Thanks,
    Joseph Miller

    PS: If you could do the same with the other races that would be much appreciated as well. ;-)

  8. #8
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    On Thu, Feb 06, 2003 at 06:41:06AM +0100, jaldaen wrote:

    > *My reading of are considered class skills for you at first level
    > means that they are only considered class skills at first level is this
    > a correct reading?

    That is correct. A Khinasi character (raised in the Khinasi manner)
    treats all knowledge skills as class skills at first level only. Feats
    and/or class selection dominate all future advancement. This ability
    was meant to "represent" the high availablility of education (and its
    value) in Khinais culture... but not to provide an unlimited potential
    for educaton for a character that did not take concious decsions to
    _further_ that education. In other words, a Khinasi starts with an
    opportunity to have an Education (if they want to spend the skill points),
    but this early education does not necessarily have life-time learning
    advantages.

    > Elves
    > Proficiency (short sword): .5 (Insignificant; Conditional [restrictive])
    > Timeless: 3 (Moderate; Conditional [restrictive]).
    > Immunity to Natural Disease: 4 (Moderate; Conditional [uncommon]).
    > Natural Stride: 4 (Moderate; Conditional [uncommon]).
    > Alignment Resriction: -1 (Minor, Conditional [restrictive])
    > Total Points: 39

    Since your system takes notes of disadvantages as well as advantages you may
    want to add in a rather serious disadvantage for Elves into your calculation.
    Elves, being distrusted (at best) by most human races find it harder to
    interact with humans characters (generally the predominate race in most
    BR campaigns).

    I think an interesting "Test" of your system would be to apply it the
    the races in the FRCS and see if there is a "margin" in which the point
    totals equate to an +1 or +2 ECL.

    ________
    /. Doom@cs.wright.edu

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  9. #9
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    On Thu, 6 Feb 2003, Dr. Travis Doom wrote:
    > That is correct. A Khinasi character (raised in the Khinasi manner)
    > treats all knowledge skills as class skills at first level only. Feats
    > and/or class selection dominate all future advancement. This ability
    > was meant to "represent" the high availablility of education (and its
    > value) in Khinais culture... but not to provide an unlimited potential
    > for educaton for a character that did not take concious decsions to
    > _further_ that education. In other words, a Khinasi starts with an
    > opportunity to have an Education (if they want to spend the skill points),
    > but this early education does not necessarily have life-time learning
    > advantages.

    This ignores the class skill rules. If a skill is ever a class skill for
    you, it always is, for purposes of the max skill ranks you can have.

    > Since your system takes notes of disadvantages as well as advantages you may
    > want to add in a rather serious disadvantage for Elves into your calculation.
    > Elves, being distrusted (at best) by most human races find it harder to
    > interact with humans characters (generally the predominate race in most
    > BR campaigns).

    Doesn`t matter. You don`t balance mechanical benefits with roleplaying
    disadvantages, ever.
    --
    Communication is possible only between equals.
    Daniel McSorley- mcsorley@cis.ohio-state.edu

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  10. #10
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    Originally posted by doom
    That is correct. A Khinasi character (raised in the Khinasi manner)
    treats all knowledge skills as class skills at first level only. Feats
    and/or class selection dominate all future advancement. This ability
    was meant to "represent" the high availablility of education (and its
    value) in Khinais culture... but not to provide an unlimited potential
    for educaton for a character that did not take concious decsions to
    _further_ that education. In other words, a Khinasi starts with an
    opportunity to have an Education (if they want to spend the skill points),
    but this early education does not necessarily have life-time learning
    advantages.
    Well... at first I was fine with the concept of treating those skills as class skills for 1st level only... but as Birthright-L (that nick sometimes confuses me, but I love it ;-) points out it "ignores" the class skill rules system. Though it would probably be more of a "confusing" of the class skill rules which could be clarified. I say this for the following reasons:

    Having the skills only count as class skills for 1st level brings up the question of what is the max skill rank of such skills when the character's chosen class does not have that skill as a class skill?

    The following are the options I can think of:

    a) Does the max skill ranks follow the normal rules for cross class skills thereafter, thus restricting the character from putting skill points into those skills until such time as they reach a level that allows them to put skill points into said skill. For Example: if I put 4 ranks into Knowledge (religion) as a Khinasi Fighter at first level due to the cross skill max ranks I would not be able to put another skill point into Knowledge (religion) until I was at least 6th level (when the max skill rank goes up to 4.5). This seems the worse answer as it is hardly a benefit at all b/c although you get that initial benefit it quickly fades to nothing.

    B) The max skill ranks is actually based on the normal rules for class skill thereafter, thus the character can spend two skill points per level to continue to advance in that particular skill at a normal rate. For Example: if I put 4 ranks into Knowledge (religion) as a Khinasi Fighter at first level I would at 2nd level (and every level therafter) have the option to spend up to two skill points on Knowledge (religion) and increase it according to the cross class rules (1 skill point for .5 in cross class skill). This seems a better possibility than option a, but has its own drawnbacks... and it could be said that at this point you might as well just make the skill a class skill and do away with the "unnessary" complication that this option entails.

    c) Make it a class skill period... this solves all questions and needs no further explaination.

    d) If you wish to keep the skills to cross class after 1st level, but not have the benefits "disappear" by 6th level then you might consider the following... not only say that they gain a skill as a class skill for 1st level only, but also say that their max ranks in that skill is at a +2 when it is a cross class skill. For Example: if I put 4 ranks into Knowledge (religion) as a Khinasi Fighter at first level I would at 2nd level (and every level therafter) have the option to spend up to one skill point on Knowledge (religion) to increase it by .5 with a max cross class skill rank of +2 to whatever the normal cross class skill max is (at 2nd level it is normally 2.5, so it would increase to 4.5). Note this would *not* affect the class skill max. This seems like a good compromise, but it adds a new layer of complexity that some my not like.

    Originally posted by doom
    Since your system takes notes of disadvantages as well as advantages you may
    want to add in a rather serious disadvantage for Elves into your calculation.
    Elves, being distrusted (at best) by most human races find it harder to
    interact with humans characters (generally the predominate race in most
    BR campaigns).

    I think an interesting "Test" of your system would be to apply it the
    the races in the FRCS and see if there is a "margin" in which the point
    totals equate to an +1 or +2 ECL.
    As for the elven disadvantage I would have used it if I had found it in the racial traits... but I did not see it (is it meant to be there as a concrete racial penalty?)... also such "roleplaying" penalties would probably weigh only slightly in the above system as they would be considered [restrictive] for the most part.

    Hope the above helps for the "1st level only class skills".

    Good Gaming,
    Joseph Miller

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