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D&D 3E
Vow of Poverty - the breakdown. 
18th-Mar-2006 01:12 pm
This post would have been too long as a comment elsewhere, but I figured I'd break down the benefits the Vow of Poverty provides, along with their market value, compared to the 'standard' accumulated wealth for a character of a given level.

My issue is that people see Vow of Poverty as 'omfg broken', when the benefits it provides are only marginally better than what one could acquire through classic adventuring.

So, here's some numbers.

Level 01: +4 Exalted AC Bonus
   Previous Total: 0gp
   AC Bonus: +40,000gp (Bonus2x2,500)
   New Total: 40,000gp
Level 02: Bonus exalted feat
   Previous Total: 40,000gp
   New Total: 40,000gp
Level 03: +5 Exalted AC Bonus, endure elements
   Previous Total: 40,000gp
   Exalted AC Bonus: +22,500gp (new total is 62,500gp)
   Endure Elements: +1,000gp (Use activated: level x caster level x 2,000 gp / 2 [for 24 hr duration])
   New Total: 63,500gp
Level 04: Exalted strike +1, bonus exalted feat
   Previous Total: 63,500gp
   Exalted Strike: +2,000gp (+1 Weapon)
   New Total: 65,500gp
Level 05: Sustenance
   Previous Total: 65,500gp
   Sustenance: +2,500gp (as per Ring of Sustenance)
   New Total: 68,000gp
Level 06: +6 Exalted AC Bonus, deflection +1, bonus exalted feat
   Previous Total: 68,000gp
   Exalted AC Bonus: +27,500gp (new total is 90,000gp)
   Deflection AC Bonus: +2,000 gp (Bonus2x2,000gp)
   New Total: 97,500gp
Level 07: Resistance +1, +2 Ability Enhancement
   Previous Total: 97,500gp
   Resistance +1: +1,000gp (cf. Cloak of Resistance)
   +2 Ability: +4,000 gp (cf. items)
   New Total: 102,500gp
Level 08: Natural armor +1, mind shielding, bonus exalted feat
   Previous Total: 102,500gp
   Natural armor: +2,000gp (cf. Amulet of Natural Armor)
   Mind shielding: +8,000gp (cf. Ring of Mind Shielding)
   New Total: 110,500gp
Level 09: +7 Exalted AC Bonus
   Previous Total: 110,500gp
   Exalted AC Bonus: +32,500gp (new total is 122,500gp)
   New Total: 143,000gp
Level 10: Exalted Strike +2 (good), damage reduction 5/magic, bonus exalted feat
   Previous Total: 143,000gp
   Exalted Strike: +6,000gp (new total is 8,000gp; for monks, Greater Magic Fang + permanency may be getting cheaper)
   Damage Reduction 5/magic: +8,000 (ad hoc -- figure a little lower than the price of medium adamantine, since magic damage should be reasonable common)
   New Total: 157,000gp
Level 11: Ability score enhancement: +4/+2
   Previous Total: 157,000gp
   +4 Ability: 16,000gp (cf. +4 stat items)
   New Total: 173,000gp
Level 12: +8 Exalted AC Bonus, deflection +2, greater sustenance, bonus exalted feat
   Previous Total: 173,000gp
   Exalted AC Bonus: +37,500gp (new total is 160,000gp)
   Deflection AC Bonus: +6,000 gp (New total is 8,000gp)
   Greater sustenance: +18,000 (cf. ioun stone)
   New Total: 234,500gp
Level 13: Resistance +2, energy resistance 5
   Previous Total: 234,500gp
   Resistance +2: +3,000gp (new total is 4,000gp)
   Energy resistance 5: +19,500 (ad hoc -- resist energy spells provide more and are cheaper, but the item they compare to is pricier than an 'always active' version of the spell; since this only provides 5 points, went with half the price of the minor ring added in four 'similar abilities' as per the rules)
   New Total: 257,000gp
Level 14: Exalted strike +3, freedom of movement, bonus exalted feat
   Previous Total: 257,000gp
   Exalted Strike: +10,000gp (for a monk, Greater Magic Fang + permanency is now cheaper and provides greater effect at this level -- we will continue to value it as a 'magic weapon enhancement bonus')
   Freedom of movement: +40,000gp (cf. ring of Freedom of Movement)
   New Total: 307,000gp
Level 15: Exalted AC Bonus +9, ability score enhancement +6/+4/+2, damage reduction 5/evil
   Previous Total: 307,000gp
   Exalted AC Bonus: +40,500gp (new total is 202,500gp)
   Ability Score Enhancement: +36,000gp (cf. item)
   Damage reduction 5/evil: +68,000gp (subtracting the total from the 5/magic -- cf. Mantle of Faith, which is WAAAAAAAY overpriced in my opinion, unless it's a non-slot item).
   New Total: 451,500gp
Level 16: Natural armor +2, bonus exalted feat
   Previous Total: 451,500gp
   Natural Armor +2: +6,000 gp (new total is 8,000gp)
   New Total: 457,500gp
Level 17: Exalted strike +4, resistance +3, regeneration
   Previous Total: 457,500gp
   Exalted strike +4: +14,000gp (new total is 32,000gp)
   Resistance +3: +5,000gp (new total is 9,000gp)
   Regeneration: +75,000gp (ad hoc based on ring of regeneration -- the VoP version does NOT allow limbs to be reattached.
   New Total: 551,500gp
Level 18: +10 Exalted AC Bonus, deflection +3, true seeing, bonus exalted feat
   Previous Total: 476,500gp
   Exalted AC Bonus: +47,500gp (new total is 250,000gp)
   Deflection +3: +10,000gp (new total is 18,000gp)
   True Seeing: +80,000gp (ad hoc - Robe of Eyes is 120,000 and brings more abilities, but the straight-up cost of True Seeing alone is 180,000)
   New Total: 689,000gp
Level 19: Ability score enhancement +8/+6/+4/+2, damage reduction 10/evil
   Previous Total: 614,500gp
   Ability +8: +64,000gp (assuming non-epic rules)
   Damage reduction 10/evil: +68,000 (ad hoc - double the insane price of the Mantle of Faith for double the bonus)
 nbsp; New Total: 821,000gp
Level 20: Exalted strike +5, energy resistance 15
   Previous Total: 746,000gp
   Exalted Strike +5: +18,000gp (new total is 50,000gp)
   Energy Resistance 15: +45,500gp (ad hoc -- new total is 65,000gp -- went with half-way between ring offering 10 and 20, with four similar abilities)
   New Total: 884,500gp

The value the Vow of Poverty provides (excluding fairly bleh bonus feats) seems pretty obscene.

However, I'd argue that the "exalted" armor bonus is artificially inflating the numbers, considering that for every class that can wear light armor or better, you can get the same bonus as an armor bonus for MUCH cheaper. A chain shirt provides the same +4 as the first level of the Vow of Poverty benefits.

An exalted bonus runs at bonus2 x 2,500 gp. A comparable armour bonus (Bracers of Armour or wearing armour that is enchanted) runs bonus2 x 1,000 gp. So, for example, the +10 Exalted bonus from the feat runs at 250,000 GP, whereas say +10 Bracers of Armour (hypothetical, I know) would run at 100,000 GP.

Since a Vow of Poverty character cannot obtain an armour bonus other than through spells like mage armor, luminous armor, and, uh, greater versions of these spells, the Exalted bonus functions primarily as a replacement for an armor bonus (with some other perks, naturally).

To illustrate the difference that I personally feel this bonus provides, I have table with the regular loot by level, exalted value by level, and exalted value without the armour bonus by level.

Level Normal Exalted Exalted w/o AC
01 Variable 40,000 0
02 900 40,000 0
03 2,700 63,500 1,000
04 5,400 65,500 3,000
05 9,000 68,000 5,500
06 13,000 97,500 7,500
07 19,000 102,500 12,500
08 27,000 110,500 20,500
09 36,000 143,000 20,500
10 49,000 157,000 34,500
11 66,000 173,000 50,500
12 88,000 234,500 74,500
13 110,000 257,000 97,000
14 150,000 307,000 147,000
15 200,000 451,500 249,000
16 280,000 457,500 255,000
17 340,000 551,500 349,000
18 440,000 689,000 439,000
19 580,000 821,000 571,000
20 760,000 884,500 634,500

I will note that treating it as an armor bonus price-wise puts it similar to or just under the wealth accumulated through 'classical' means, all ad hocing aside.

Assuming you don't ad hoc the regeneration down a notch, that only brings up the price 15,000gp from level 17 on (since I put it at 75,000/90,000).

I also personally believe the Mantle of Faith is supposed to be a non-slot item (I couldn't confirm it, but it seems far too steep otherwise). Halving the cost brings the price down by 34,000 from levels 15-18, and down 68,000 for 19 and 20, further undercutting the accumulated value of goods for most characters.

The only unvalued 'feature' would be the bonus exalted feats, and I've had a difficult time picking 'good' exalted feats, as I find most are fairly weak.

Monks are really the only problem, but that's ONLY because of the AC bonus -- drop that altogether if you want, but provide some other benefits. There are roleplaying restrictions for this feat but the value of benefits is only marginally better than a regular adventurer would have, and only because the exalted bonus is a non-armor, non-shield, non-deflection bonus.

So there's the breakdown of all the toys and their costs, for reference.

My verdict?

Vow of Poverty isn't broken unless it's on a monk and the roleplaying restrictions are not being enforced. :)

Edit: Fixing my sloppy formatting.
18th-Mar-2006 05:33 pm (UTC)
I've seen something to that effect before, but it's always nice to have it layed out in details.

And it's true, almost every single instance of "Vow of Poverty is broken" posts I have seen usually have to do with a monk and the DM's casual approach to what it means to be exalted. It makes me understand why some people don't like abilities that are supposedly balanced by roleplaying.
18th-Mar-2006 05:51 pm (UTC)
Does it seem fair to you that mechanical bonuses should be balanced mechanically, while roleplaying bonuses should be balanced with roleplaying? I think mixing the two may cause problems.
18th-Mar-2006 05:41 pm (UTC)
I've never thought the Vow Feats were broken.

If anything, I've always thought the Vow Feats silly because any character that I play is overly non-good, and even if he is, he isn't a saint. :P
18th-Mar-2006 05:50 pm (UTC)
Your numbers match with mine, seeming to say that the value of the feat is about equal to the value of magic gear.

The one issue that this doesn't cover though, is that in order to get all these abilities, you have to ignore slotting for many items. Our magically equipped character is wearing like 3-4 rings, 3 cloaks, and so. Now of course someone could design items for the same effect that took up different slots, but I'm curious how many magical items would it take to gain these abilities? Is it more than the number of slots that a character has? Not to mention that you don't have to worry about your Magic Sword being sundered, or your Bracers of Armor not working in the anti-magic field (I think, are supernatural abilities considered magic?), or some skillful thief swiping your Ring of Regeneration. Of course this may be balanced by not having a choice in what kind of magic item you have, but I'd argue that the abilities you gain are pretty general and would be what most players would get for magic items anyway (such as bonuses to AC and to ability scores).

I also agree that most of the Exalted feats are less than stellar--I tried planning a character build to see if there were even 10 Exalted feats I wanted. There weren't. But that isn't to say that they are worthless: consider Touch of Golden Ice, which strikes me a pretty significant. And all the Sanctify attack spells are decent. A number of these feats grant +2 or +4 to skill checks or saves, which about on par with standard feats. And even if they aren't really really cool, you still get a ton of them. So if the wealth stuff balances out, then you still have a feat that gives you 10 other feats. And if you do have a class ability (like ki strike or turning undead), then then can be really quite cool.

The final real issue with this feat is that it assumes a certain level of wealth and magic availability. Like that character will have money based on the chart in the DMG, and that such powerful magic items will be available when the PC can afford it. At the very least, people will need to house-rule the feat to balance with their own campaign style.

And again, the roleplaying restrictions need to be more than just "you gain these abilities instead of gear," which I'm not sure happens that often (I don't know if I've ever met a player who would/could pull that off. Hell, I'm not sure I could pull off playing an Exalted character).

So while it isn't quite as broken as I may have supposed based on the standard treasure array, I still think it's overpowered (at least for any game that I would run).
18th-Mar-2006 06:10 pm (UTC)
Head - Headband of Intellect +8 (hypothetical - 64,000gp)
Bracers - Bracers of Freedom of Movement (x2 cost)
Gloves - Gloves of Dexterity +6
Vest/Robe - Robes of Eyes, lesser? (just True Seeing)
Belt - Belt of Health +4
Boots - Boots of Mind Shielding (x2 cost)
Cloak - Cloak of Resistance +3
Neck - Amulet of Natural Armor +3
Ring 1 - Ring of Protection +3
Ring 2 - Ring of Regeneration
Ring 3 (Hand of Glory) -> Ring of Diverse Elemental Resistance
Armor -> +3 Chain Shirt (7 points of 'Exalted' bonus - 9,000gp + cost of chain shirt)
Shield -> +2 Buckler (3 points of 'Exalted' bonus - 4,000gp + cost of buckler)
Weapon -> +5 blessed Weapon (72,000gp) or +5 permanencied Greater Magic Fang + blessed enchantment (something like 17,000gp). The blessed enchantment also provides a greater benefit than simply being treated as 'good'.

Non-slotted -> Non-slotted always-active Endure Elements (2,000gp), everlasting rations (350g -- replaces ring of sustenance, since I just noticed the Vow of Poverty sustenance effect is not the same as the ring -- it does not reduce sleep; the Sustenance ability is only 4,000gp akin to the clear spindle ioun stone), hand of glory (16,000 gp for non-slot), Mantle of Faith, ioun stone (iridescent spindle - 18,000gp), non-slot Periapt of Wisdom +2

I'll have to run the numbers and see how it would compare, but that gets us all of the abilities.
18th-Mar-2006 06:30 pm (UTC)
Okay, I just redid the math, getting a REGULAR ring of regeneration, and a REGULAR robe of eyes, PAYING the premiums for non-slot and off-slot items, you can mimic the abilities gained from the Vow of Poverty (all the way up to level 20) for the low, low price of 733,530 gold pieces (or, less than standard 20th level character wealth).

That being said, I won't disagree that the feat needs to be balanced with your game.

If you're running a low-magic or low-wealth game, the feat is unbalanced.
18th-Mar-2006 06:41 pm (UTC)
Nice. But aren't you limited to two rings? ;)

In any case, my other points still hold, don't they?

18th-Mar-2006 06:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I agree that your other points hold up, as I said in the other post.

As for the rings?

Check out the text in parentheses, and the non-slotted items.
18th-Mar-2006 06:50 pm (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't know what Hand of Glory was.

But if you're doing the math (which you may not have time for, so you don't need to bother), a monk or a wizard (or a druid I guess) aren't going to be able to use the armor, so would probably have to go for the Bracers of Armor +10 (hypothetical). Not to mention that the character using a staff (allowed by the Vow) double-handed would be using the equivalent of two +5 blessed weapons, doubling that price.

So the gp price of the abilities is about the same though. Interesting.
18th-Mar-2006 06:59 pm (UTC)
Valid point on both accounts.

That being said, you could pump out a little extra cash and grab a mithril twilight chain shirt (twilight being another +1 enhancement from BoED) and a mithril buckler and get the same benefit for a character not proficient in armor without any arcane spell failure (my war weaver has just such a gear loadout).

The monk is already broken with VoP because of the armor bonus gain, but you can get around it with say bracers of armour +4 (to cut cost down) and then a +4 animated large steel shield. Won't be as good as a straight out armor bonus, but cost cutting measures are fun fun fun!~

Double weapons are a contingency I hadn't taken into account. I will point out that blessed has additional benefits over and above making it a 'good' weapon, so the price for such a weapon should come just under two +6 weapons (probably like 130,000gp, which is a big chunk).

So yeah, double weapons are a problem. :p
18th-Mar-2006 07:04 pm (UTC)
I think the point is this:

It is possible to break Vow of Poverty.

Does that mean it's broken in itself? Maybe. Does that mean it's an inherantly bad feat? No. If it fits the game and the players use it correctly (in terms of roleplaying), then it's a fine feat. But it does require some care.
18th-Mar-2006 07:16 pm (UTC)
It's possible to break Dodge, but who's counting? :p
18th-Mar-2006 07:21 pm (UTC)
Oh? *curious*
18th-Mar-2006 07:32 pm (UTC)
Well, not in the sense of "omgwtfbbqinvincible", but annoying enough that it ends up being a moderate bonus to AC against a bunch of people.

I'll have to see if I can find my notes on it.
20th-Mar-2006 04:33 pm (UTC)
1) You're missing the bonus feat at level 1. (Its in the text, but not the stat block. Text overrides graphics, when they differ).

2) Only humans can get Vow of Poverty at first level. Which drops teh feat count by 2 for non humans. I don't know if those matter.

3) There are some buff feats. +1 skill points per level? That rocks.
Add the Celestial Template to the character's Mount/animal companion/familiar? Ignoing that few builds will have one, it is a great feat. +1 damage against evil (+1d4 v undead/evil ousiders)? it isn't specialization, but its not bad and it stacks.
There are some awful feats (like the lame +1 a day to a check), but you don't have to taken them.

Is vow of poverty game breaking? No. But it is very powerful in a low-magic game, a low-money game, or a game where the PCs lose resources (captured, theft, whatever) on a regular basis. And it takes the ability for the DM to limit access to resources out of the DM's hands.

21st-Mar-2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
The reason I feel vow of poverty is broken is because there is a guarentee they get these abilities with no gp cost, weight ratio, or luck.

Depending on the campaign, the other characters are not going to have easy access to all of the abilities they need. You may pick up a few good items, but they are probably going to be random in nature, luck of the draw kind of items. Finding those special items is a big deal.

Also, I feel that the class IS broken in the case of monks. If it's broken for even one base class, that says it's broken in general to me.
21st-Mar-2006 08:51 pm (UTC)
hey get these abilities with no gp cost,

But there IS a GP cost. The rules explicitly state that the character must not be ignored in the spliting of treasure, but instead must take their share of the treasure and donate it to good causes. Any DM who ignores this part, and doesn't nail the character for violating their vow, is at fault.

weight ratio,

Eh. I don't find this a big deal -- in general, by the time that weight is a concern, the PCs will be able to afford a Handy haversack (2500gp) and Portable Hole or Bag of Holding. So weight only matters for what is on the person, at any given time. If your character can't handle standard equipment, then you need to get lighter equipment (Mithral, whatever) or more strength. Also, I've never seen encumberance come up in a campaign as a serious, long term challenge. Short term, sure. But the Vow of Poverty can't carry anything they would use, that isn't simple and basic. And if they're dragging a suit of armor back to town, to donate it to a worthy cause, they're getting hit with all of the encumberance and none of the benefits.


If your DM is selecting items by random chance, you have my sympathy. Rewards for defeating enemies should be tailored, a little, to the group. You're not always going to find your favorite, exotic weapon, but there should be bits and pieces ofr all, every now and then. Ignoring that, Once PCs get far enough along, they're going to start trading in their old treasure (or useless treasure) for commissioned works. This is where the VoP really falls behind -- they get a fixed set of bonuses. There is no flexiblity about what they get, or when. Whereas someone who hasn't taken the vow can comission what they want when they want it. If Armor is more important, they can commission a +3 armor, +3 shield, rather than a single +3 weapon. The VoP is stuck with what they get. no flexiblity, at all.

And the bonuses are all the 'standard ones', its not as if they're getting the 'sexy' bonuses. +1 to attacks is nice (and it does stack with Magic Weapon, IIRC), but no keen, no burst weapons, no banes. Bonuses to attack are rarely worth it, if you've got someone who can cast numerous 'Greater Magic Weapons' (which is practically an all-day spell, anyways). They get straight up bonuses to Armor, hit/damage, deflection, sustinance, and the like. No enhanced class features, no bonuses to spell ability, unarmed damage, etc.

As for breaking for monks -- I don't see it. As to AC, so they get an armor bonus -- the monk is going to get bracers of armor. At early level, admittedly, their AC is going to be better than their non-vow compatriots. So house rule it, for their case, to delay the armor bonus. As for damage, the sacred bonus to hit/damage replaces having a Amulet of Natural Attacks (which is expensive, admittedly) and a +x/+x quaterstaff, which is overpriced. Still, a high-level monk is going to have both. Susitance doesn't help them. Deflection, they'd normally get from rings. They're going to get (Possibly) another +7 from ability increases, but they'd get +6 from items (periphat of Wisdom, Gloves of Dexterity) anyways. And probably have a better ring of protection than the +3 VoP gives them (and a Monk's Belt, for another +1 to AC and increased unarmed damage).

I still don't see the breakage. I'd be happy to compare a monk, built with rules-limited funds, to a VoP monk. The VoP monk MIGHT be a LITTLE better, but I wouldn't wager heavily on that.
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