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D&D 3E
Generic Classes from Unearthed Arcana 
12th-Jun-2008 09:59 pm
I've been looking at the Generic Classes (Expert, Spellcaster, Warrior) from pg.77 of Unearthed Arcana, trying to decide if I should propose them to our playgroup or not. I know there's a few things that people consider pretty bad in that book, most notably the Human Paragon class, so I could use some input.

I personally kinda like them, but the options for customization make them really powerful. Warriors get all the BAB and saves of Fighters, plus they're not restricted to the Fighter bonus feat list. Spellcasters get basically everything the Sorcerer gets, plus the ability to choose from more spell lists and more feats. I don't see any huge advantage Experts get over Rogues, but they do get to choose what their class skills are.

Anyhoo, opinions?
13th-Jun-2008 02:37 am (UTC)
To use generic classes, you are supposed to restrict the base classes to just the generic classes. So really, you compare the generic classes to each other instead of to other classes.

The generic Expert can have, by level 16...

SA +9d6
Smite Evil
Favored Enemy: Evil Outsider

Alternately, you could put all of that on a Warrior plus Improved Evasion, Uncanny Dodge, and Trap Finding and make sure you take Hide, Move Silently, Search, Spot, Listen, and one other skill and call yourself a "Holy Assassin" or something like it. The point is, the Warrior makes a better weapons-based offensive character than an Expert.
Of course, you'd need an int of 14 and be Human (or 16 otherwise) in order to pull that one off, and that's not a normal stat for a Fighter-like, but I digress. The point is, doing things that a rogue is responsible for in combat is easier with a Warrior than with an Expert - namely because we're looking at combat.

An expert, on the other hand, is much better at being Skilltastic. For instance, take Evasion, Trap Sense, Improved Evasion, Uncanny Dodge, Wild Empathy, and Trap Sense for abilities. Throw around quite a few skill abilities (including Diplomacy, Bluff, and Intimidation, of course, plus search for trap finding) and give yourself a high charisma.
Congrats, you have a non-casting non-singing bard that is a heck of a lot harder to damage. Sure, the generic isn't doing much that a real bard couldn't, but the point isn't to copy a class, it is to make your own.

I've never run a game with generic characters though, I'm looking at this from a theoretical point of view; that and I love Unearthed Arcana. :)
13th-Jun-2008 03:12 am (UTC)
I love the customization possibilities as well, that's why I'm really looking hard at these. I guess I read the note about other base classes wrong, I thought it meant that a Generic character shouldn't also take a level in / cross-class with "normal" base classes.

Just for argument's sake: If you did decide to run Generic classes concurrently with other base classes, is there anything you'd do to even it out? I'm thinking that either restricting them from prestige classes, ruling out the list of "class-feature feats", or both would tone it down a bit and make the other base classes more attractive.
13th-Jun-2008 03:32 am (UTC)
If you gave up the class feature feats, the generic classes would be worthless. Literally, the only reason why you'd choose one over a base class at that point is because the Sorcerer is still worse than the Spellcaster (Arcane). :P

Here is what I'd do:

Eliminate the Fighter class outright (everything a Fighter can do a Warrior can do better other than wear heavy armor, so not much of a point).
Eliminate the Sorcerer class outright (everything a Sorcerer can do a Spellcaster can do better other than the choice of weapons).

Neither of the above classes are powerful compared to other classes with similar roles, so this really isn't a big deal.

Somewhat restrict the spells a Divine spellcaster can pick. For instance, don't let them take Cure X Wounds path and then pick up practically every useful Arcane spell in the game. In the same vein, somewhat restrict the spells an Arcane spellcaster can pick. Don't go overboard on the restrictions - for instance, if it is on a domain list for some domain somewhere, it probably isn't worth restricting for a Divine Spellcaster. With Arcane spellcasters wanting Cure X Wounds, perhaps let them have it like a Bard instead of like a Cleric.

Give the generic classes the Paladin/Monk multiclass restriction. Just make sure to give certain PrCs a pass for certain generic classes (like having the Exemplar able to freely class to/from Expert).

13th-Jun-2008 04:43 am (UTC)
What about just restricting the Divine casters to either the Druid or Cleric list, and the Arcane casters to the Sor/Wiz list?
13th-Jun-2008 11:02 am (UTC)
Then you basically have a really crappy Favored Soul for the divine side with your own class skills and a sorcerer for the arcane side.
Again, the generic would be significantly worse than the standard. It is supposed to be worse, but not THAT much worse.
13th-Jun-2008 02:59 pm (UTC)
Are they really that crappy? Not only do you get to choose your class skills and saves, but the Sorcerer is actually improved (free feat every five levels) and the Favored Soul trades some armor proficiency for a condensed spellcasting stat (Wis alone instead of splitting between Wis and Cha).

I know the divine side takes a HP hit (down to d4 from d8), so I guess I could see that being a heavy detractor. Of course, I'm a little biased - the more I read about the FS, the more I think it's one of the most powerful base classes in the game.

Hey, thanks for discussing this with me, by the way. :)
13th-Jun-2008 03:21 pm (UTC)
Not a problem. :)

Of course, the favored soul also doesn't get domains (neither does the divine Spellcaster), nor does it get Turn Undead (used for fueling Divine Metamagic or other Divine feats). Favored Soul is significantly better than a Sorcerer, but the Sorcerer is already one of the worst spellcasters in D&D, if not THE worst. True, you are right with respect to the split spellcasting stat; I forgot about that. In general though, a Cleric is better than a Favored Soul (just like a Wizard is better than a Sorcerer), and the real reason to play a Favored Soul is because they're fun to play rather than for power reasons. :P

In any case, the main problem is that a divine Spellcaster becomes the spontaneous version of an Archivist - great in theory, but utterly reliant upon which spells you pick and still inferior in nearly every mechanical way to a Cleric. In this case, tack on having better class skills and losing the archivist's wide diversity in spells.

Choosing your saves doesn't really make much of a difference in the end. True, you can make an arcane Spellcaster that can survive fort saves, but (s)he'd still suck against fireballs and now wouldn't be able to see through an illusion to save his/her life.

A better comparison with the Arcane spellcaster should be with the Beguiler or Warmage classes. At that point, the only advantage the arcane spellcaster has is picking out spells. Beguilers get more spells, far more class skills, and more unique abilities (at the cost of not getting offensive spells other than illusionary ones). War Mages get more HP, more damage, more feats, and more spells (at the cost of not getting too many out of combat spells). Either way, both the Beguiler and Warmage are superior to the arcane Spellcaster unless you let the arcane spellcaster mix more spells around - for instance, take a smattering of the Bardic Healing, personal enhancement spells, and a few nice offensive spells and you have a support character that has the potential of still being able to sling some offensive spells in combat (which isn't touched upon by any existing class).

... restrict the arcane spellcaster to Sorc/Wiz spells only, and you can't really cover any areas the Beguiler or Warmage don't cover better (let alone a Wizard).
Just like restricting a divine spellcaster to Cle/Drd spells only and you can't really cover any areas the Spirit Shaman or Favored Soul don't cover better (let alone a Cleric or Druid).

I think we're looking at this from opposite sides. You're looking at it as "these generic classes are great! How can I get players to still want the base classes?" I'm looking at it as "these generic classes aren't really better than most of the base classes without doing some really oddball mixing. How can I prevent the oddball mixing without removing the reason why you'd choose a generic class over the superior base classes?"

In my mind, ignoring the Sorcerer and Fighter, these generic classes are inferior to the base classes mechanically unless if you're trying to cover some very specific area that isn't covered already. That's their strength, and removing the special abilities list and restricting the spellcaster list removes the one reason why you'd actually choose them to begin with.

Why go for a generic Expert when you just have a really crappy feat progression above that of a bard minus all of the abilities? Why not just be a bard at that point?

Why go for a generic divine Spellcaster when you just have a weaker Favored Soul?

Why go for a generic arcane Spellcaster when you're heavily restricting your spellcasting choices in comparison to a Wizard and don't get any of the nifty unique abilities a Beguiler or Warmage has as a trade-off?
14th-Jun-2008 01:59 am (UTC)
People don't like the Human Paragon? That's weird.
14th-Jun-2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
I got the impression it was. A three-level prestige class with no entry requirements that boosts Will, adds two points to any ability you want, makes one skill universally class, free bonus feat, and toss spell progression on top of it? I can't think of anyone that wouldn't take that for any class. It's vastly preferable to any of the base classes or the other paragon classes.
14th-Jun-2008 11:25 pm (UTC)
It's good, sure, but I can't think of a situation where I'd actually want to take the caster level hit. I wouldn't want it for a dedicated caster, and I wouldn't want it for a gish. Maybe if I was trying to make a skill-monkey/caster hybrid, but even then there's probably better options. It's a pretty good class, sure, but I don't think it's top-tier at all.
15th-Jun-2008 08:15 am (UTC)
It's not a hit at all, especially over three levels. Let's say you're running a Wizard. Apply the Ability Boost to INT. You get at least one bonus spell (likely of your highest level), the Save DC of all your spells increases by one, plus all your INT-based skills (all Knowledge skills, Spellcraft, Decipher Script, etc) get +1. If you're really worried about failing Caster Level checks, buy Spell Penetration with your free Bonus Feat. Your saves aren't hurt. Presto, worst-case situation averted.

At worst, the class is a little back-loaded, you trade a couple of lower-level spells for a boost in skills most spellcasters will have anyway, and get to continue raising them later even if cross-classing. At best, it outshines many of the base classes in a lot of situations. Add the fact that other PaCs let you take Human Paragon once you're done with them, despite kinda contradicting the whole point of the class (you are the pinnacle exemplar of your race), and yeah. It's top-tier.

I was discussing this with someone from my playgroup tonight, and he mentioned it seems like they came up with all the other PaCs, then got stumped on the Human because Humans are supposed to be adaptable above all else. Half-Orc got Rage, +2 STR, and bonuses to Barbarian skills. Halfling got a Thrown Weapon feat, +2 DEX, and bonuses to Rogue skills. Human got any feat, +2 to any stat, and versatility in skills. If anything, according to that formula, there shouldn't be spell progression at all.
15th-Jun-2008 08:35 am (UTC)
No one's denying that it's the best Paragon Class. It's a good thing too, because the others are all cripplingly weak. I'm just saying there's a lot of better things you could be doing with those levels.

If you're running a caster there are too many good Prestige Class abilities to warrant pushing Prestige class qualification back. It sounds awful, but in D&D 3.x skills really aren't very important, and feats and stats will only have a minimal impact on your character. Class abilities (and spell progression in particular) are far more important, and Human Paragon forces you to take a hit in that regard.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's bad. It's just not at all overpowered. Not if your characters are spellcasters already.
15th-Jun-2008 04:13 pm (UTC)
Interesting. I can see it being mediocre compared to PrCs (not even all PrCs give spell progression every level), but I still think it's vastly preferable as what equates to a base class. I definitely don't think any of them are "cripplingly weak" when you've got such majestic choices as Sorcerer on the table.

I guess if you're beelining for a PrC that has a high spellcasting or BAB requirement, you might avoid it. I can still think of plenty of people that would wet themselves over what amounts to a one-dip for a +2 stat bonus and free feat, though.

Differing points of view, I suppose. :)
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