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    To: BIRTHRIGHT-L@ORACLE.WIZARDS.COM
    Subject: RE: Racial writeups [2#1619]
    From: LordRahvin <brnetboard@birthright.net>
    Message-Id: <20030501200608.BC7F63F32@doriath.saers.com>
    Date: Thu, 1 May 2003 22:06:08 +0200 (CEST)

    This post was generated by the Birthright.net message forum.
    You can view the entire thread at: http://www.birthright.net/read.php?TID=1619

    LordRahvin wrote:

    Okay, maybe it was unfair of me to post this, after all. With some of my
    previous posts, I tried to make the arguments fairly modular so that you
    could use them or evaluate them without needing to know about all the other
    rules that went along with it. I made no such effort this time. I
    apologize. To be honest, I didn`t really expect anyone to reply to this
    seriously -- I just posted it on the off-chance that there might be one guy
    out there who might happen to find it useful.

    But since it has gotten some serious attention, to which I am very grateful,
    I`ll do my best to clear up some misunderstandings.

    The first note was that this was not meant for the BR3e conversion, since I
    don`t have any qualms about doing things differently from the PHB and having
    different rules to give BR a different style. It`s not a conversion
    document so much as a start-from-scratch birthright product drawing on rules
    and inspiration from many d20 sources (including the BR3e document).

    The following was basically the first part of some of the stuff that`s going
    to be in my Race chapter. To choose your race, you must first choose a
    cultural tempalte, and then based on that, you may choose special racial
    abilities and disadvantages (such as low-light vision, etc.). The racial
    templates primarily give you skill bonuses that scale with level (because I
    think your choice of race should be more significant to character design
    than in D&D, but should not just provide huge first level bonuses) and bonus
    feats. Although I included ability score modifiers in the draft I posted, I
    have no intention of using them because I don`t think they should be used in
    a scaled point-buy system (ala, the DMG).

    Although some of you have noted that some of these racial templates may
    provide ECL modifiers, I don`t see any point in recording them if they *all*
    have ECL modifiers. If all the choices of available races have the same ECL
    modifier than there is no difference in having ECL 0 or ECL 3. (The sole
    exception to this is the actual adventure-design and challenge-design
    process. I`m already dealing with it, but there`s no point in posting any
    of that yet. Character advancement itself is not hindered if all available
    races have the same "ECL" modifier.)


    > Are these in addition to the racial abilities, etc. described in the PHB? I’m assuming that they are since certain key elements aren’t addressed her, like darkvision for dwarves or lowlight vision for elves.

    No, they`re not. I haven`t yet addressed things like lowlight vision and
    darkvision, as that`s when the ECLs rack up and things get a little out of
    hand. I`ll probably address this as a system that scales, too. (So that
    dwarves will get tougher as they level up, etc.) All that will be posted
    later.


    > Using the “guidelines” presented in Savage Species (3.5 forward compatible) several of these races would receive an ECL modifier. I’ve listed my comments under each race with the page # and brief descriptor from SS as to why the ECL applies.

    Thanks. I appreciate that. In the interest of space and redundency though,
    I`m not going to be address them all individually.


    > Anuirean:
    > +1 ECL (unbalanced ability score, pg 11)

    I don`t think the ability scores are unbalanced for the Anuirean. To be
    honest though, I don`t really care. In the final draft, all ability score
    adjustments will be taken out. (Though I think I may include an option to
    raise your ability scores by taking a racial ability to do so.)


    > +1 ECL (3 or more racial bonuses to skill checks checks, pg 12 – I’d apply this since the bonuses scale per level, so at 4th level the bonuses are +4 (+2 to Diplomacy and Ride)

    Well... yes, but do you honestly believe that even at fourth level where you
    have a whopping +4 spread out among your skills that it equals a whole
    character level?! At 12th level, it`s a whole +8 and I`m still don`t think
    it equals an ECL. Maybe when combined with the bonus feat... but still, no
    hit die, no save increase, no BAB, no skill points...


    >and also it’s tied into action die (By the way, what is this?) and regency rolls (I assume this is meant for domain actions? Otherwise I’m again confused as to what a regency roll is.)

    Sorry. Extra rules. Previous posts.
    There is no such thing as an action die in this system. What other systems
    call an "action die" is called a "regency die" in this system, because only
    blooded scions could have it (though they don`t have to be regents). The
    amount of Regency Points that a scion has is a function of level and
    adventure award (through domain power, bloodtheft, etc.). Spending a
    Regency Point can be used to access certain high-powered class abilities and
    blood abilities in place of the x/day mechanic. Enough collected Regency
    Points can be used to increase your bloodline. A "regency die" refers to an
    attempt to spend a Regency Point to improve the results of an attack roll,
    skill check, or save attempt by adding "+1d6" to the d20 result. Anuireans,
    as a cultural special ability, get a slight edge in doing this.

    In hindsight, I don`t like this because it only applies to scions.


    > +1 ECL (2 or more bonus feats, humans gain one and Anuireans gain a basic combat feat (what is a basic combat feat?) in addition)

    One feat, and it has to be a Basic Combat feat. My current list of feats is
    currently based on the Spycraft d20 product by AEG.
    Basic Combat Feats include: Ambidexterity, Armor Group Proficiency, Luck of
    Heroes, Agile Reposte, Confident Charge, Endurance, Combat Expertise, Great
    Fortitude, Improved Disarm, Improved Initiative, Improved Two Weapon
    Fighting, Increased Speed, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Mobility, Quick
    Draw, Quick Healer, Run, Sidestep, Surge of Speed, Toughness, Two-Weapon
    Fighting, Weapon Focus, Weapon Group Proficiency, Zen Focus, Zen Shot, and
    Zen Mastery (good feats, stupid names).


    > Comes to a total ECL modifier of +3. This is rather high.

    Put the book down for a second. Go back and look at the Anuirean. Do you
    honestly believe that someone would rather get this racial package than 3
    levels in any combination of classes they want (not even including prestige
    classes and that nonsense)? I don`t think so. Common sense could apply
    here. Maybe a +1 ECL but certainly not even a +2.

    That being said, however, I should note that one reason I`m trying to offer
    scaling racial abilities is that the character classes themselves will be
    weaker, per level, than their D&D counterparts, trading versatility for
    power. These racial benefits that scale with level help to balance that.
    At least that`s the idea.


    > Why do Anuireans lose Con? They are a warrior race. It would be better to drop the Str and Con modifiers to ensure they are not being traded off for each other.

    I don`t think any of us are ever going to agree on particular modifers, but
    yeah, that seems fine to me. You yourself, however, mentioned that the
    Brecht should recieve a higher Con benefit because they live in harsher
    climate than Anuire and so since Anuirean live in such lush climate and
    harsh climate = con, maybe the anuirean con penalty might make sense? But
    either way, I don`t really like the modifiers much anyway. I included them
    mostly because I thought the first responses I got to these templates would
    be that races should have ability score modifiers...

    > +1 ECL (3 or more racial bonuses to skill checks checks, pg 12 – I’d apply this since the bonuses scale per level, so at 4th level the bonuses are +4 (+2 to Bluff and Sleight of Hand)

    I still don`t think that +4 bonus equals a +1 ECL. At the extreme, at 20th
    level where the bonus is +12 maybe, but by then, I think it`s a pretty moot
    point.

    > +1 ECL (2 or more bonus feats, humans gain one and Brechts gain a basic skill feat (again what is this?)

    One feat, and it has to be a Basic Skill feat. These are your typical +2/+2
    feats, but they`re a little better because you can take Advanced Skill feats
    that raise the bonuses and allow you to do more stuff. Also, the basic
    skill feats improves your chances to get Critical Successes with the skills
    they enhance. Basic Skill feats include: Alertness, Athletic, Field
    Operative, Magician (sleight of hand stuff), Merchant, Mathematician, Mimic,
    Ordinary Past, Outdoorsman, Persuasive, Militia Training, Scholarly, Speedy,
    Stealthy, and Traveler.

    > +1 ECL (initiative increase, I’d use the special attacks and qualities descriptor on pg 12 since this ability can’t be gained by taking a level in any class and it scales by level)

    There is no way in hell an increase to initiative equals a +1 ECL. It`s a
    pretty minor ability, even in D&D. That being said, however, I should note
    that my class writeups have initiative bonuses, reputation bonuses, defense
    bonuses, and wealth bonuses all based on level so a slight increase to
    initiative isn`t something as exclusive as it is in D&D.


    > Why do Brechts lose Con? They are seafarers and this is a very important attribute for that focus, also there is the climate of the Great Bay to take into mind – it is harsher than say Anuire.

    This was the part I was mentioning above, under the Anuirean Con penalty
    stuff.

    > +1 ECL (3 or more racial bonuses to skill checks checks, pg 12 – Spot, Concentration and Appraise (PHB) checks)

    Appraise, Concentration and Spot aren`t very useful. Certainly not enough
    to warrant a +1 ECL.

    > +1 ECL (bonus to Fortitude saves, I’d use the special attacks and qualities descriptor on pg 12 since this ability can’t be gained by taking a level in any class, it scales per level and it stacks with the dwarven save bonuses in the PHB)

    It doesn`t stack. The dwarven PHB entry isn`t used.


    > Comes to a total ECL modifier of +2. This is less than the human modifiers.

    I`m curious as to whether you still feel this is true, even with the notes
    I`ve added here.


    > Why do dwarves only receive a +2 to Con and a –2 to Dex? Aren’t they more hardy than Rjurik and less dexterous than Anuireans?

    Yeah, I`d buy that. The bonuses for demihumans should have probably been
    doubled, and then balanced out appropriately, of course.

    > Why a plus to Charisma? Dwarves are never portrayed as being any better at dealing with the other races than are the other races.

    Yeah they are. Or at least dwarves are considered to be on friendly terms
    with everyone, or at least rather neutral. In a world of constant warfare
    and fierce racial hatreds, this is no minor feat. I felt that this would
    warrant a charisma bonus. Also, the clan nature of dwarves suggests strong
    loyalties and ruling a dwarf realm seems be an excersise in patience and
    diplomacy and negotiation -- even more so than usual. Charisma seemed like
    a good bonus.

    > Why the minus to Intelligence? Dwarves are definitely not portrayed as being any less capable of learning than are the other races, and definitely are more knowledgeable than are the Vos 0 dwarves have a written language.

    This was mostly a magical issue. Locked up in their mountain homes and
    closed off from the world is just didn`t seem, as a race, that they`d be as
    knowedgeable -- and then there`s the whole magic thing. It seemed more
    appropriate than any other penalty I could have assigned. But yeah, I don`t
    like the ability score modifiers either.


    > +1 ECL (bonus to Will saves, I’d use the special attacks and qualities descriptor on pg 12 since this ability can’t be gained by taking a level in any class, it scales per level)

    +1 to +6 bonus to Will hardly seems as effective as a special attack (like
    breath weapon) or a special quality (like magic resistance or telepathy).

    > Why do elves lose Charisma – this is quite the opposite to the literature and its descriptions of how they are capable of captivated most mortals.

    Elves don`t seem very tolerant, as a whole. They`re described as chaotic
    and kind of violent, and are constantly fighting with everyone who shares
    their land except the halflings and dwarves. They just don`t seem like
    they`d get a charisma bonus, and maybe would even get a penalty, but I still
    intend to give them a special ability regarding captivation and such.

    > What type of goblin? Cerilian goblins are comprised of goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears. Elite goblins are hobgoblins, which would generally be the dominant group.
    >
    > Per Savage Species the following are the ability adjustments for goblinoids: (Table A-55, pg 206 and 209)
    > Goblin - +0ECL, -4 Str, +2 Dex, -2 Cha
    > Hobgoblin - +1 ECL, +2 Dex, +2 Con
    > Bugbear - +1 ECL, +4 Str, +2 Dex, +2 Con, -2 Cha

    I`ll spend a little more thought on this when I have more books. It was
    made just with my general opinion of what goblins would be like, rather than
    on any official WotC monster entry.


    > 1 ECL (skill checks, I’d use the special descriptor on pg 12 since these can’t be gained by taking a level in any class bonus to Tracking checks (this doesn’t really exist, track is a feat that gives bonuses to Wilderness Lore checks, and Disable Device checks these also scale per level.

    In my rules writeup, Tracking is a skill, now. It can be done in any
    terrain and is intelligence-based. Appraise is put into
    Knowledge(business).

    > +1 ECL (2 or more bonus feats, humans gain one and Khinasi gain a Special Equipment feat (again what is this?)

    Special Equipment feats interact with the Wealth Point system. Basically,
    there`s only a few Special Equipment feats -- they`ll provide you with
    additional starting equipment to better afford that shiny plate mail or with
    additional Special Item points that will allow you to get access to low-cost
    (by D&D standards) magical items (that aren`t so low-cost in my campaigns
    and can`t be purchased with conventional funds). This basically works
    similiar to Spycraft`s Budget Point and Gadget Point system.



    > +1 ECL (2 or more bonus feats, humans gain one and Rjurik gain any Stealth feat (again what is this?)
    Stealth feats include: Break Fall, Hidden Run, Vertical Climb, Instant
    Stand, Moving Target, Nimble Fingers (faster skill checks), Spider Walk, and
    Traceless.


    > +1 ECL (Massive Damage Threshold increase, I’d use the special attacks and qualities descriptor on pg 12 since this ability can’t be gained by taking a level in any class and it scales by level)

    I honestly don`t know about the Massive Damage Threshold increase. I`m not
    sure if it makes a good cultural special ability or if its balanced with the
    others. To give you an idea of scale though, there`s a feat that gives you
    a +4 to Massive Damage Threshold.


    > +1 ECL (2 or more bonus feats, humans gain one and Vos gain a basic Pursuit feat (again what is this?)

    The Pursuit feat will interact with my Pursuit rules which I`ll probably be
    posting sometime next month. It`s based loosely on Spycraft`s vehicle rules
    but are made for foot chases, horeback chases, fantasy aerial chases,
    racing, evasion, and hunting. It`ll include more rules for terrain, special
    tactics (feats), and expanded obstacle rules. This will basically be an
    alternative form of abstract combat used when mapping is too inconvinient
    and the characters are moving (say, from room to room) too quickly
    (dispatching guards or chasing someone, etc.). Its abstract nature may lend
    itself to mass combat rules too, but I don`t know yet.

    Anyway, pursuit feats will be special maneuvers that can be accomplished in
    this alternate specialized combat system and will primarily involve
    maneuvers that are dangerous, risky, or threatening that could not otherwise
    be done without feats.



    > +1 ECL (4 extra hp, I’d use the special attacks and qualities descriptor on pg 12 since this ability can’t be gained by taking a level in any class and it scales by level) {This is a major bonus, far outpaces any of the other ones.}

    You think so? The Vos seemed pretty weak without it, not gaining much in
    the way of useful skills or impressive combat feats. One extra hp didn`t
    seem that big a deal to me compared to an increase in Massive Damage, a
    bonus to ambush attacks, or even a bonus to saving throws.


    > Comes to a total ECL modifier of +3.

    Again, I don`t think so. You applied a +1 effective character level for
    having a bonus hitpoint per level. Yet, taking an actual character level
    will give a minimum of one bonus hitpoint per level, as much as 10, and a
    whole host of other abilities and bonuses. I don`t think your evaluation of
    ECL modifiers is very accurate, even if you are basing them on published
    WotC products.


    > Why do Vos gain a bonus to Balance and yet lose Dexterity?

    Hmmm. That is a bit of an irony there, isn`t it? I`ll look at that more
    closely. It should be noted that Balance and Ride are the principle skills
    involved in pursuits, which is sort of a forte of the Vos in this writeup.
    I may later decide to have a Running skill instead.


    > Why no half-elf?

    I think half-elves are stupid.
    That being said, I think you could make an adequitely half-breed by taking
    the cultural template of one race and the biological abilities of another,
    which is one reason I wanted to seperate those into different templates.


    > If you ability modifiers are being included for humans then the modifiers for demi-humans need to be doubled in order to maintain the same proportions. For example, Cerilians dwarves are more sturdy than Rjurik, if each has a +2 Con modifier theen they (as a race) are the same. There are no racial min/max scores anymore.

    Okay. I agree.

    > As has been pointed out ability modifiers are biological, skills (and feats) are cultural.

    Don`t agree. You can see my response in a previous post.

    >For example a Vos who was raised in Anuire would have the biological ability adjustments of a Vos, but not the racial illiteracy of the Vos and would have the cultural skill/feat modifiers of the Anuirean culture.

    I think an Anuirean raised in Vosgaard would have the same +2 Str modifier
    as other Vos when he begins his adventuring career. And he would have
    illiteracy if he was raised in an illiterate upbringing! Literacy isn`t
    racial... or is it? I suppose it could be, but I don`t see any reason to
    interpret it that way.

    In my system, there aren`t really biological differences between Anuireans
    and Vos -- they`re all cultural. But an elf (or half-elf, if you prefer)
    raise among Anuirean humans would have the cultural template of Anuire
    (above), but pick from the biological advantages of elves instead of humans.
    (I haven`t finished this part yet, so I don`t have specific examples.)

    -Lord Rahvin
    NOTE: Messages posted by Birthright-L are automatically inserted posts originating from the mailing list linked to the forum.

  2. #2
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    When I put out the ECL modifiers I was just using the Savage Species lists, it does have the "acid test" which is when you compare the race result to the equivalent number of classes to see if either otpion is vastly more preferable. This was what you were referring to with when you did the comparisons. I hadn't meant to imply that these were the "absolute" ECLs only those from the strictest sense.

    The Vos as written get +4 hitpoints at 1st level and an additional +1 at each level, yes this is vastly superior to any other benefit written and easily worth a +1 (probably even a +2 ECL).

    Regarding elves and their charisma - just because they "look down" on everyone else doesn't mean that they aren't influential either by their force of personality or their just plain good looks.

    Dwarves, while they seem to get along with everyone - don't interact much with anyone which is probably why they aren't at war with the other races, orogs excluded. Halflings get along with absolutely everyone so why didn't they get the charisma bonus?

    The problem with not using ECL modifiers is a little more complex than you present it. It has a drastic effect on CR, EL and awards. Since the other creatures in the monster manual haven't received the same ECL adjustment the system becomes totally out of whack. Someone pointed out that they use the Wheel of Time system and create their own entire world (monsters included). When doing this the system can be built to incorporate the ECL modifiers such that everything balances out, but without that it becomes a massive bookkeeping nightmare.

    The reference I made to Vos illiteracy was a cultural one, not a biological one. They weren't bred to not be able to read/write they just never did.

    Will saving throw bonuses are a very formidable benefit since most offensive magic spells require a Will save. There are several key spells that use Reflex instead though, lightning bolt, fireball. Fortitude saves are mostly useful against conditions such as poison.

    IMO if ability modifiers are used then favored classes should also be used as a balancing thing. But this is just my preference and I know a lot of people don't agree with it.
    Duane Eggert

  3. #3
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    Originally posted by irdeggman
    When I put out the ECL modifiers I was just using the Savage Species lists, it does have the "acid test" which is when you compare the race result to the equivalent number of classes to see if either otpion is vastly more preferable. This was what you were referring to with when you did the comparisons. I hadn't meant to imply that these were the "absolute" ECLs only those from the strictest sense.
    I wasn't trying to use an "acid test", I was trying to apply common sense. It's just a matter of looking at the way the game is played rather than how the DMG (or whatever) tells you the game should be played. The idea of an "ECL", and an "EL", and a "CR" is a good idea, a great idea in fact -- but D&D was the first application of this concept. They got it wrong, and they've been constantly trying to fix it ever since but they can't without contradicting what they've previously written. Maybe that will change in 3.5, I don't know. But I doubt it. I like the idea of ECL and CR and stuff, but scrictly basing your arguments on what the books say ECL and CR are, has no merit with me unless you can back it up with some solid arguments.

    Look, I'd like to apologize if my previous post(s) sounded a bit harsh, it's just sometimes I'm utterly shocked by what I percieve to be blind dedication to published rulebooks, regardless of how those rules are used or why. As someone who takes great pride in seeing when rules properly help to run a gaming session, I tend to get upset with "bad rules", or interpretations of rules inappropriate to what they are representing. It take it more personally than I should.

    I appreciate you trying to help me with the ECL stuff and everything else -- it's a lot more than I expected. But most of your suggestions didn't seem to make much sense in this case. You seem like a fairly smart guy, and you come off as someone who likes Birthright and enjoys the idea of designing workable game systems. Which is why it surpises me sometimes when you say or do something that seems counterproductive to that agenda. The saving throw bit below, for example...


    Will saving throw bonuses are a very formidable benefit since most offensive magic spells require a Will save. There are several key spells that use Reflex instead though, lightning bolt, fireball. Fortitude saves are mostly useful against conditions such as poison.
    Did I say something to imply that I had no idea what a saving throw is or what it's used for? You seem to have an opinion, and I want to know what it is, but it seems like I have to work hard to interpret your opinion beyond "I want to reply to what you are saying by quoting rules to you." I get frustrated by this.

    I assume you're replying to my statement comparing the Vos hitpoint bonus with the saving throw benefits of Halflings and Dwarves, but I have no idea how to interpret your reply.

    -------------


    The Vos as written get +4 hitpoints at 1st level and an additional +1 at each level, yes this is vastly superior to any other benefit written and easily worth a +1 (probably even a +2 ECL).
    Much more useful statement.
    Let's ignore the +4 hitpoints at 1st level for a moment. Let's also ignore that this is made for an independant system and just talk D&D on this issue. Why would +1 hitpoint per level really matter? Yes, it manipulates average hitpoints of characters, but so what? We can already assume that a character can have below-average hitpoints or above-average hitpoints without impacting his ECL -- I had a 5th level Barbarian in my game once whose hitpoint rolls were pathetic. Likewise, although we assume that a fighter, upon leveling up, will get about 5-6 hitpoints, we're not shocked if he gets 10 nor does it influence his character in the slightest way. In fact, we could give him +5 hitpoints, and it wouldn't effect his estimate character power at all so long as the amount his hitpoints rolled did not exceed 5. If you accept all that, wouldn't it make sense to say that +1 hitpoint per level for this fighter would have no impact on his character level whatsoever so long as his average hitpoint rolls over time were 9 or less. Ryan can give us the exact probability on this happening, and it's probably increased for the lower hitdie classes (average of 3 or less on 1d4), but overall the probability of it is so unlikely as to be insignificant. Although the +1 hitpoint per level is a nice ability to have (as opposed to not having it), it doesn't seem to have much significance on overall character power the way some of the other special abilities do, and hence, it needs the +4 hitpoints at first level to balance it with the other abilities. (The +4 is much more significant, because its your maximum roll +4 rather than your average roll +1.)

    All that being said though, I think hitpoints should be fixed and there should definitely be some ECL (or fractional ECL) for having more hitpoints. In this case, (partial?) ECL is worked into the beginning racial character package and is balanced out by the classes being weaker at 1st level and the challenge codes themselves being altered. What I'm looking to debate here isn't whether or not there should be an ECL (because the definition of what constitutes an effective character level should be different from campaign to campaign) but rather how this benefit compares with the benefits of the other races, and whether its appropriate to this race and whether or not it hinders playability in any way.


    ---------------

    The problem with not using ECL modifiers is a little more complex than you present it. It has a drastic effect on CR, EL and awards. Since the other creatures in the monster manual haven't received the same ECL adjustment the system becomes totally out of whack.
    I did mention that I was going to address that later. I also mentioned that the character classes are weaker than in typical D&D. I'll add to that by saying that magic is not as available in birthright, weaking characters below their ability to deal with monsters.

    It does not, however, have as drastic an effect as you make it out to be. I believe that the CRs are off already, especially for Birthright games which tend to be lower-power and more restricted than typical D&D. So GMs are already using their, umm... "acid test", to determine whether monsters are an appropriate challenge. I think PC races with class levels tend to be the opponents of choice for most BR games, meaning that more work needs to be done establishing the CR of such charactes. D&D kind of whiffed on this, because monsters are the focus. I think that monsters are more rare in Birthright and tend to have the role of villains rather than random encounters, so more thought and "acid testing" is involved in determing their use in the game anyway -- and generally these tend to be very challenging to the PCs. Finally, I think adding guidelines as to how to determine CRs of "typical monsters" from the MM for BR characters would be a fairly straightfoward process, and generally I think all monstrous characters will have a much higher CR than their printed value in the MM based on the limitations of the BR setting and their use in campaigns.

    -----------------------

    Someone pointed out that they use the Wheel of Time system and create their own entire world (monsters included). When doing this the system can be built to incorporate the ECL modifiers such that everything balances out, but without that it becomes a massive bookkeeping nightmare.
    Was it me? I'm the only one I know on this list who keeps drawing parellels between BR and the Wheel of Time rules.

    -----------------------

    IMO if ability modifiers are used then favored classes should also be used as a balancing thing. But this is just my preference and I know a lot of people don't agree with it.
    I don't know what you're talking about; I'm guessing your making references to discussions you've had with other people. My own opinion on this: If every level of every class is theoretically balanced with eachother, there's no reason to have multiclassing restrictions. Only when the balance of a level of a given class goes up or down (as in the case of prestige classes) should retrictions be put in place. I find it amusing they did this in reverse in D&D -- the "lesser classes" have restrictions on how many you can have but you can have as many of the higher-powered "prestige classes" as you can meet requirements for.

    Favored classes don't make a good balance mechanic because they don't provide a benefit -- they just increase the amount of depth or versatility you can add to your character. If they actually did something that effected your overall character power (e.g., if having a Favored Class:Fighter meant that you could level up higher as a Fighter or you'd be a more effective Fighter than someone else) than I'd be more inclined to agree.

    I'm slightly amused that you put such emphasis on limiting ability score benefits to races, but opt to balance those benefits with a cultural aptitude containing very little in the way of game effect and nothing in biological rationale.

    -----------------------------

    Your initial interpretation of the power levels and usefulness of my racial writeups were based on incorrent data and insufficient information. Now that I've helped to clarify some of those issues and explain some of those mechanics, might I trouble you to go back and evaluate them again? Many of your ECL comments seemed to be derived from the idea that effects of these tempates stacked with stuff in the PHB, and now that I've explained that's not the case I think some of your comments/opinions might have changed. Beyond the ECL issue, I'd like any other opinions you have. (You can just assume that all BR campaigns will start at 4th level and require you to select a +3 ECL race, if it makes the evaluation easier for you.)

    -Lord Rahvin
    &quot;Chance favors the prepared mind.&quot; --Sir Isaac Newton.

  4. #4
    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    On Fri, 2 May 2003, LordRahvin wrote:

    > Why would +1 hitpoint per level really matter?

    It`s less good than +2 Con (roughly half?), because it gives the same hit
    point bonus, but not any skill or save bonus. BTW, this is another place
    to point out that if you`re going to be factoring everything under the sun
    into ECL, ability scores are much more important to include than mere hp.

    > 5th level Barbarian in my game once whose hitpoint rolls were pathetic.

    I try to avoid mechanics in which a single die roll affects a character`s
    future forever after. Therfore, I like to have every character re-roll
    their hp at the start of every session. It means every character has days
    when they feel healthier than others, which seems reasonable to me in
    gameworld reality, encourages some flexibility in play style and doesn`t
    respond to one-time luck with IMO excessive reward or punishment.

    > Likewise, although we assume that a fighter, upon leveling up, will
    > get about 5-6 hitpoints, we`re not shocked if he gets 10 nor does it
    > influence his character in the slightest way.

    It may influence how the character is played -- e.g., two Ftr 3s who
    differ only in that one has 12 hp and the other has 30 hp may make very
    different choices -- but you are correct that it does not now interact at
    all with the ECL system, and it would be a major pain to change that.

    > In fact, we could give him +5 hitpoints, and it wouldn`t effect his
    > estimate character power at all so long as the amount his hitpoints
    > rolled did not exceed 5.

    Sounds reasonable at first glance, but I`m not quite sure yet.

    > +1 hitpoint per level for this fighter would have no impact on his
    > character level whatsoever so long as his average hitpoint rolls over
    > time were 9 or less. Ryan can give us the exact probability on this
    > happening, and it`s probably increased for the lower hitdie classes
    > (average of 3 or less on 1d4),

    Good to know I`m needed. ;)

    The probability that the total will exceed the maximum normally allowed
    for the class does indeed increase with decreasing HD type (as you note,
    10% vs 25% for +1 to the first roll of d10 vs. d4), but furthermore it
    *decreases* with increasing *number* of HD. Note for example that if you
    normally award maximum hp at first level, then every character will be
    above their normal max at that point; OTOH, by the time you`re a Ftr 5
    rolling the normal 10+4d10 (ignoring Con, which doesn`t change the answer)
    plus an extra 5, the chance you will exceed 50 hp is only 1 in 300. In
    fact, if you`re a Bbn 20, even at +4 per level (an extra 80 hp!) you have
    only a 5% chance of totalling more than the normal maximum of 240!

    This is an example of the general phenomenon that the more dice you add
    together, the more likely it is for the total to be really close to the
    average. I`m not convinced it`s the right way to look at the situation
    (for example, a Bbn 20 at just +1/level has only about a one in a billion
    chance of exceeding 240, but is also going to average 163.5 hp, more than
    97% of normally-rolled barbarians) but it`s the math you asked for.

    > overall the probability of it is so unlikely as to be insignificant.

    At high levels, oh yeah. But is that really the right metric?

    > Although the +1 hitpoint per level is a nice ability to have (as
    > opposed to not having it), it doesn`t seem to have much significance
    > on overall character power the way some of the other special abilities

    Here I agree. Way less interesting than a spell-like effect, for example.
    Actually, it is pretty much the same thing as the spell-like ability to
    heal self for 1 hp per level per day, so it shouldn`t really cost any more
    than that would.

    > and hence, it needs the +4 hitpoints at first level to balance it with
    > the other abilities. (The +4 is much more significant, because its
    > your maximum roll +4 rather than your average roll +1.)

    And since first-level characters have so few hp to begin with, having a
    few extra right then can be really helpful, especially for surviving
    critical hits (a greataxe crit has a better-than-even chance of taking a
    Rog 1 from full health to instant death in one shot).

    > All that being said though, I think hitpoints should be fixed and
    > there should definitely be some ECL (or fractional ECL) for having
    > more hitpoints.

    The reason I said this would be a pain to implement is that number of HD
    is already included in character level, and the fact that the classes have
    different HD types has already been considered in balancing them against
    each other. This means the fairest way I can see to calculate the
    effective ECL due to hp is going to be a formula like K * (R - A), or even
    K * (R - A) / A: R is the number of hp a given character actually has, A
    is the average hp of someone with their exact class levels (and Con, if
    you are also giving ECLs for ability scores), and K is some scaling
    factor. (R-A) gives the number of hp by which they differ from an average
    character of their type (because number of levels, HD type, and maybe Con
    are -- or at least should be -- already accounted for); in this case, a
    decent number for K strikes me as something pretty small, maybe in the
    1/10 to 1/20 range (because a class level is so very much more than just
    hp); maybe even 1/3 divided by your HD type. (R-A)/A will give a number
    between a bit above -1 (you have the minimum number of hp you possibly
    could) to a number a bit below +1 (you have the maximum number of hp you
    possibly could); in this case, I`d be inclined to pick K between 1 and 2.


    Ryan Caveney

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    On Fri, 2 May 2003, Ryan B. Caveney wrote:
    > BTW, this is another place to point out that if you`re going to be
    > factoring everything under the sun into ECL, ability scores are much
    > more important to include than mere hp.

    Yeah, but ability scores are easy to balance to 0, according to the chart
    in the DMG. It`s other, un-zeroed effects that end up going into an ECL.
    --
    Communication is possible only between equals.
    Daniel McSorley- mcsorley@cis.ohio-state.edu

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    >> BTW, this is another place to point out that if you`re going to be
    >> factoring everything under the sun into ECL, ability scores are much
    >> more important to include than mere hp.
    >
    > Yeah, but ability scores are easy to balance to 0, according to the chart
    > in the DMG. It`s other, un-zeroed effects that end up going into an ECL.
    > --

    I think I mentioned it before on this list, but me and one of my players
    generated a bunch of NPCs using the guidelines in Chapter 2 of the DMG using
    the graduated point system. All of my players, by some bizzare chance of
    fate, had recently generated really high ability scores and were just
    breazing through my adventures so I wanted to calculate how much of an ECL
    they had because of those high stats. We generated several versions of each
    character, the first using 25 points (yeilding a slightly munchkined result
    compared to the default array) and the second using 40 points. We then
    tried 50, 60, 70, etc. and the result we ended up with after comparing them
    was that every 25 points in the graduated-point system (DMG, p19-20)
    resulted in an effective +1 ECL. Based on that, I was able to treat the
    party as two levels higher for the purposes of EL and my adventure came out
    much more smoothly.

    -Lord Rahvin

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  7. #7
    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    On Fri, 2 May 2003, daniel mcsorley wrote:

    > Yeah, but ability scores are easy to balance to 0, according to the chart
    > in the DMG. It`s other, un-zeroed effects that end up going into an ECL.

    Yes -- unzeroed effects like the difference that exists between two
    characters of the same classes and levels when one has no ability score
    below 16 and the other has no ability score above 12. My point was that
    before you start worrying about differences in hp, you should first worry
    about differences in stats, perhaps in the way Gary has recommended of
    giving an ECL for every N points above the standard array (and negative
    ones for every N points below). If OTOH you feel that it`s not worth
    worrying about stat differences, IMO it`s really not worth the trouble of
    worrying about hp differences.

    Sure, the ability as written does need to be balanced against something
    else, but since it`s actually less powerful than a paladin`s lay on hands,
    which is just one of the many, many features of that class, it is clearly
    not worth a whole ECL on its own. In 2e Skills & Powers, where this
    ability (use the next higher HD, which as I said is the same on average as
    +1 hp per level) is directly selectable, it`s equivalent to less than
    1/12th the build points necessary to construct a cleric.


    Ryan Caveney

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  8. #8
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "irdeggman" <brnetboard@BIRTHRIGHT.NET>
    Sent: Thursday, May 01, 2003 4:32 PM


    > Dwarves, while they seem to get along with everyone - don`t
    > interact much with anyone which is probably why they aren`t
    > at war with the other races, orogs excluded.

    I would question this interpretation of dwarves. The Royal Guild of
    Baruk-Azhik operates in two human realms, and allows two human guilds in
    Baruk-Azhik. Likewise dwarves are involved in the Copper & Coke in Brecht
    Western Reaches. One of the royal candidates for the oldest Rjurik realm is
    a dwarf. Dwarf wizards are either extreamly rare or non-existant. There is
    admitedly little or not interaction between dwarves and humans in the realm
    of temples. But among the guilds and the realms of war, dwarves seem no
    less participatory than any other similarly sized realms.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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  9. #9
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    At 08:10 PM 5/2/2003 -0400, Daniel McSorley wrote:

    >On Fri, 2 May 2003, Ryan B. Caveney wrote:
    > > BTW, this is another place to point out that if you`re going to be
    > > factoring everything under the sun into ECL, ability scores are much
    > > more important to include than mere hp.
    >
    >Yeah, but ability scores are easy to balance to 0, according to the chart
    >in the DMG. It`s other, un-zeroed effects that end up going into an ECL.

    It`s kind of difficult to get into this without writing a treatise on the
    subject of ECL, class features and ability score modifiers, but in general
    I`ve found that a +2 modifier should be the assumption when describing the
    effects of ability scores on character stats. The EL, CR, ECL system
    generally is "normalized" to the standard array when it comes to such
    things, which usually gives an "average" bonus of +1 to ability scores. At
    higher levels, of course, there are usually magic items that increase
    ability scores, or in the case of encounters the monsters simply have
    higher stats, so "averaging up" to +2 is a good standard. That is, when
    talking about HD one should assume that a character with d8 dice will get
    average hit points (4.5) and a +2 modifier from an ability score. It`s not
    always the case, of course, since particular classes tend to have higher
    scores than others by the nature of the class. The intelligence modifier
    to skill points per level for a wizard, for example, is pretty regularly
    going to be more than +2/level, but as a general assumption +2 works pretty
    well.

    If one wanted (and it makes a lot of sense when one sees the numbers) one
    could then assign an ECL value to high ability scores.

    When it comes to issues of ability scores modifying ECL I`d make a couple
    of other points:

    1. There should be tenth values, at least when computing the ECL
    modifiers. One doesn`t have to keep those tenth values after determining
    the ECL (though it seems to work just as well) but because many aspects of
    character class don`t influence characters enough to be worth a whole ECL
    modifier they can only really be accurately tracked if one uses a decimal.

    2. There are three major categories of character features; combat stats,
    special abilities/feats and skills. While it depends quite a bit on play
    style each of these things is worth about the same amount during play (or,
    at least, when coming up with character classes, ECLs and CRs.)

    3. Savage Species does an excellent job of describing how ECL can factor
    into the class system. Now, I think that book jumps through a few hoops in
    order to fit several of the ideas expressed into some of the rather faulty
    assumptions and mechanics of 3e/d20, but it does have some very good ideas
    expressed on its own, and can be used to extend the thinking of how these
    things might work for other characters. Again, a treatise is the only way
    to very accurately describe how that might work, so I won`t go into too
    much detail, but in general I think many aspects of the game are going to
    turn to.

    Gary

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  10. #10
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    There`s nothing inherently wrong with giving ability score modifiers to
    human characters. Many d20 products include them, particularly in things
    like Polyhedron articles. Sometimes ability score modifiers are based on
    nothing more than profession or a personal background. The "peasant" or
    "worker" background might give a character +2 to constitution and -2 to
    wisdom and charisma, or a "soldier--intelligence officer" might have
    different ability score modifiers from "soldier--commando."

    Generally, however, those ability score modifiers are used in d20
    products/campaigns in which there are only human PCs and/or those in which
    the majority of creatures will be human. Most "PC races" are, in fact,
    just variants of human paradigms. An "elf" in the classic D&D sense might
    be, in effect, an ectomorphic human with a feral/nativist background in
    another campaign setting. That they have pointy ears, blue eyes and a
    penchant for green clothing is really colour commentary that doesn`t much
    affect game mechanical decisions like ability score modifiers.

    Probably the best way of defining this issue would be to pose the following
    questions:

    1. Are the differences between the human racial subtypes significant enough
    to justify an ability score bonus when describing one from the other? By
    way of comparison would the average Vos healer and herbalist be +2 stronger
    than the average Khinasi healer and herbalist? Would the average Anuirean
    soldier by +2 more charismatic than the average Rjurik soldier?

    2. Are such ability score modifiers consistent enough within the racial
    subtype to justify that every member of that race would have those
    bonuses? That is, does it make sense for all members of that racial
    subtype despite their profession, character class, background or even
    gender should have the ability score modifier?

    3. How might the inclusion of ability score modifiers for racial subtypes
    influence other racial templates? That is, since other PC races available
    to BR PCs are, in reality, just gaming effect variations of what could be
    described as humans in another campaign setting if one gives ability score
    modifiers to humans then the ability score modifiers for other PC races
    might want to be increased or otherwise altered in order to more accurately
    reflect how they are different from the "typical" human type.

    4. Are there enough combinations of ability score modifiers to reflect
    those racial subtype differences. That is, if the Rjurik`s ability score
    modifiers are not different enough from the Vos ability score modifiers (or
    Anuirean/Vos, whatever) to make those races different then that`s a pretty
    good indication that the ability score modifier isn`t necessary. While
    this might sound silly, if several human races have ability score modifiers
    that are similar then the ability score modifiers might not be a good way
    to go since all it really does is shift PCs away from their die rolls into
    a system in which no characters wind up with stats that are actually
    related to the system used to generate ability scores.

    5. This last one is a bit of a combination of #3 and #4. Ability score
    modifiers for human racial subtypes should be compared to the racial
    modifiers for other PC races. Modifiers for a human racial subtype that
    were too close to another PC race`s modifiers might indicate that those
    changes are unnecessary for humans. For example, if modifiers for the
    Rjurik wound up being very similar to those for elves then the modifiers
    for the Rjurik would probably not be necessary.

    Gary

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