Suggestions for Improving the Viability of PrCs

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Suggestions for Improving the Viability of PrCs

Post#1 » Wed Nov 01, 2023 8:52 am

Hi all,

I think PrCs are a fun addition to D&E 3.5e, and should typically be a fun and viable option for most character builds to further specialize their characters.

The influx of great new feats such as the recent epic combat feats has been a huge boon to the server. Unfortunately, this has also had the unfortunate side effect of tilting the scales too far towards favoring purist builds with 1-2 level dips that are able to accumulate loads of bonus epic feats and putting PrCs out of favor.

There are many PrCs on the server. Some are already extremely powerful and are taken regardless of the introduction of new feats while others are so weak that they are pretty much never taken outside of a few niche scenarios or as a minor dip. This post list what in my opinion are PrCs that fall into these categories, and will also list PrCs that can be brought up to par with some relatively minor tweaking.

Top Tier. These PrCs are already a shoo-in for most relevant builds and are already readily competitive with pure builds. No changes are suggested.
Arcane Archer
Arcane Scholar
Child of Night
Hellfire Warlock
Pale Master
Red Wizard

Invisible Blade
Mystic Theurge
Sacred Fist

Mid Tier. These PrCs are very decent, but are generally slightly weaker/inferior to a pure build. Adjustments are suggested for each case.
With the introduction of the Epic Combat X line of feats, the Blackguard faces an identity crisis. While the core of the class is good - sneaks, high BAB, proficiencies, turn undead and an aura, the bulk of the power is found in the first 3 levels and it's generally taken as a dip in a caster build. Pure martial builds generally avoid Blackguard as it disqualifies your build from getting the purist bonuses from the Epic Combat X feats while caster builds will dip 3 levels.

Suggestion (quoted from Discord):
Introducing epic feats to improve the Hexblade/BG curse aura would make Hexblades and pure Blackguards a lot more useful than they are now. These could include something like the following:

Intensified Aura of Despair
Type of Feat: Epic
Prerequisite: Cha 25, Improved Aura of Despair, Blackguard 10 or Hexblade 20.
Benefit: Your aura of despair inflicts a -3 penalty to the AC and AB of all affected creatures.

Greater Aura of Despair
Type of Feat: Epic
Prerequisite: Cha 25, Intensified Aura of Despair, Blackguard 10 or Hexblade 20.
Benefit: Your aura of despair inflicts a -20% penalty to all damage immunities of affected creatures.

This class has been tweaked extremely heavily but is still generally ignored. This is due to the relatively high cost of entry, the uselessness of the song of celerity/armored caster features in ROT, the lack of any bonus feats, and also the highly questionable 5/10 casting progression of the class.

1) Add bonus feats at Bladesinger 4, 7 and 10.
2) Allow the class to progress bardsong levels
3) Improve Bladesinger spell progression to 9/10.

Canaith Lyrist
This PrC is actually pretty good. The only problem is the lack of any access to purist caster feats limiting build possibilities.

1) Allow builds with 15+ levels in Canaith Lyrist to qualify for the epic purist caster feats.

Champion of the Wild
This PrC is generally only taken as a 2 level dip to add Dex bonus to AC in a weapon finesse build. It however has rather strict entry requirements that oddly include the need for Heavy Armor Proficiency.

1) Remove the armor proficiency requirements from the class
2) Make the level 8 Wrath of the Wild ability a passive bonus
3) At level 10, gain Improved Wrath of the Wild where the bonuses are doubled.

Generally designed for Swashbucker builds, this class is neglected due to no progression of sneak with Daring Outlaw, no bonus feats, and no significant bonuses outside of an AC boost.

1) Add bonus feats at 4 and 8
2) Duelist levels stack with Swashbuckler levels for purposes of Daring Outlaw sneak calculations
3) Increase the damage of Precise Strike from 1d6/2d6 to 1d12/2d12

Dragon Disciple
This class is very close to being good and extremely flavorful. However, like Blackguard, it suffers from an identity crisis as it disqualifies you for Epic Combat X purist bonuses, is Medium BAB, and the Stat bonuses fade in relevance at higher ERs.

1) Add bonus feat at 10
2) Make the class high BAB
3) Give the class 8/10 spell progression

Eldritch Knight
Like Canaith, I think the only thing lacking here is access to Epic Purist caster feats.

1) Allow builds with 15+ levels in Eldritch Knight to qualify for the epic purist caster feats.

Elemental Archer
It provides decent passive buffs, but is generally overshadowed by other ranged classes.

1) Add bonus feat at Elemental Archer 5
2) Improve Elemental Storm to match Arcane Archer Hail of Arrows
3) Triple the Elemental Shot damage bonus from 1 per level to 3 per level, with a +6 bonus if matching Genasi

Frenzied Berserker
Not bad, but rarely taken outside of Barbarian builds looking to retain purist bonuses due to the relatively steep cost of entry feat-wise, and the need to take Extended Rage feats to have good uptime on Frenzy. Adding bonus feats should alleviate this issue.

1) Add bonus feats at Frenzied Berserker 5 and 10

Frost Mage
Looks decent on it's own, but heavily overshadowed by other caster PrC options. The damage bonus of Piercing Cold is simply too low to make the class attractive at its current value of 1% per level as it maxes out at a mere 10%.

1) Increase the damage bonus to 3% per Frost Mage level so it caps out at 30%.

Harper Agent
Very solid already, but could be better with an additional Gift of the Gods at level 1.

1) Add an additional Gift of the Gods at level 1.

Invisible Blade
Solid bonuses, but a wasted feat in Feint and no bonus feats.

1) Add an additional feat at Invisible Blade 3 and 5

Lyric Thaumaturge
Very strong and flavorful bonuses, but Bards are already extremely feat-starved. This is even worse for caster bards who are seeking Automatic Quicken feats in addition to purist feats.

1) Add bonus feats at Lyric Thaumaturge 3, 6 and 9.

Mystic Theurge
Very interesting and flavorful class, but the bouses of getting a 2nd caster class at a low CL are not so strong as to warrant the loss of secondary class progression and a massive loss of feats outside of the edge case of exploiting the massive imbalance in runeword power for arcane casters to apply to a nature/divine caster.

1) Change the bonus feat progression to 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32

Sacred Fist
Fairly nice bonuses, but the wasted feat needed to qualify is a huge cost.

1) Add bonus feats at Sacred Fist 5 and 10

Similar to Sacred Fist, Stormlord has fairly nice bonuses, but wastes multiple feats to qualify.

1) Add bonus feats at Stormlord 3, 6 and 9

Very solid already, but 10 levels with no bonus feats is a huge investment, and I do not think the Stormsongs themselves are so strong as to warrant no bonus feats (unlike Arcane Archer that gets Arrow of Death)

1) Add bonus feats at Stormsinger 5 and 10

Requirements are too harsh for the relatively modest bonuses.

1) Improve Tempest defense to add +1 AB and +1 AC per Tempest class level when wielding two weapons and wearing light or no armor. This replaces the relatively modest +3 AC, +2 AB bonus at Tempest 5 with a far more attractive +5 AC, +5 AB

Weapon Master
Good bonuses at high cost, but still hard to justify taking more than 5 levels in this class as the Ruin feats are highly situational.

1) Superior Weapon Focus bonus should increase by +1 for every Weapon Master Level above 5. This means a level 10 Weapon Master is looking at a +6 AB bonus.
2) Add bonus feats at Weapon Master 8 and 10.

Low Tier. These PrCs are generally only taken in very niche scenarios or as 1-2 level dips as they are very frontloaded. A significant rework could be considered in future, but it's out of the scope of this post.
Neverwinter Nine
Annointed Knight
Arcane Trickster
Black Flame Zealot
Champion of the Silver Flame
Daggerspell Mage
Daggerspell Shaper
Dark Lantern
Dissonant Chord
Divine Champion
Divine Seeker
Dragon Warrior
Dread Commando
Dread Pirate
Dwarven Defender
Eldritch Disciple
Elemental Warrior
Elite Commando
Fist of the Forest
Forest Master
Ghost-Faced Killer
Guild Thief
Lion of Talisid
Master of Radiance
Mystic Knight
Nature's Warrior
Nightsong Enforcer
Nightsong Infiltrator
Shadowbane Stalker
Shining Blade
Skullclan Hunter
Warrior of Darkness
Whirling Dervish
Wilderness Stalker
Last edited by kc2345 on Sat Nov 04, 2023 8:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 310

Re: Suggestions for Improving the Viability of PrCs

Post#2 » Wed Nov 01, 2023 12:58 pm

Agree with all of that!

Frenzied berserker - Get rid of alignment restriction! that's sometimes what stops me taking it!

Bladesinger - Allow Scimitar + Greatsword as a weapon choice for Bladesong style. But still with the weapon focus feat as a pre requisite.

Stormlord - shocking burst and sonic weapon buff gets dispelled. Make supernatural? or 24hr activation like the wildshape feats ( toxic gift, elemental essence)

Posts: 207

Re: Suggestions for Improving the Viability of PrCs

Post#3 » Wed Nov 01, 2023 1:23 pm

I also vote for this
As well as Theurge feat changes. As it is now, its just way too tight. KC idea on feat expansion is needed

As addendum i would also like to add a suggestion to expand Barbarian set arsenal to free up 2 weapons

Posts: 829

Re: Suggestions for Improving the Viability of PrCs

Post#4 » Wed Nov 01, 2023 5:20 pm

Good ideas

Site Admin
Posts: 3318

Re: Suggestions for Improving the Viability of PrCs

Post#5 » Thu Nov 02, 2023 7:49 am

I'm going to hit Champion of the Silver Flame for sure. That's been on my list for a long time.
Brian Bloom

Realms of Trinity Executive Producer & Game Creator

Posts: 15

Re: Suggestions for Improving the Viability of PrCs

Post#6 » Thu Nov 02, 2023 9:06 pm

Just a quick personal experience having come back a few weeks ago.

I was going to make a BlackGuard when I came back - because I thought the playstyle would be cool. Unfortunately, once I realised that it's had it's companion line removed, it was forced into playing like every other sneak damage build - except that it didn't synnergise with anything. It's turn undead has always been painfully weak and useless as you're realistically only ever getting 10 levels for it - if you want to take advantage of anything else the class does. Basically it felt like it lost it's unique playstyle and was just a worse option for a thug.

I don't know about many other builds, but I remember shadowdancer having a shadow companion of sorts - which gave players an option of taking more levels into it. I can't think of any point in taking it beyond the first level now - purely for hips access. I know both examples are companions, that's really more of a coincidence - the point was that those classes had something unique about them (kind of like the current hellfire warlock does) that made people look at potentially making builds (albeit maybe not very good builds) around those aspects.

The biggest hurdles in my humble opinion - which is probably not as accurate as the more regular players - is a lot of PrCs which would be fun to mix and match, can't be done so due to alignment restrictions. A lot of other PrCs are simply not viable because they lack bonus feats you would get for a purist character. A lot of core classes have those bonus feats shoved WAY late up the level tree - (eg. level 23 to 38 instead of spread out earlier on) - so you are basically penalised for taking any more than 1 or 2 levels of a PrC class. And the later effect is a cummulative penalty since a lot of core classes would have some feat or ability which provides a bonus for "every X levels of class".

I believe simply moving the bonus feats for core classes from the top end down to the bottom end (eg. instead of bonus feats being available from 20-40, pushed down to 10-30) would encourage people to explore with PrCs, while simultaneously still having a slight advantage to a pure class through such abilities listed above. Alternatively, giving bonus feats to PrCs (most of the ones listed in red don't get much if any), would do the same (though might tilt the balance of certain builds). Lastly, perhaps removing some of the alignment restrictions would allow people to experiment more freely - while still forcing them to commit to the same amount of feats and skills as the requirement for those PrCs.

There is also a very simple fix that would go a very long way in my humble opinion. Currently, just about every class description of PrCs listed on the website, is incomplete or is displaying wrong information when it comes to when you get bonus feats for those classes. Considering this game is one where people would spend hours upon hours trying to cook a build on paper, not having the information provided could mean that they would write off a class without trying it - for the lack of realising they get certain benefits. For example, I didn't realise CotW got a bonus feat at level 1 until someone told me, as that information is missing from the website and in game tooltip. I didn't realise CotN gives ANY bonus feats until someone told me. I didn't realise that DL gets access to crippling strike, until someone told me. This was hours after reading and researching through classes trying to figure something out - at the end I went to the reference build page and mostly copied a build from there - but that takes away a good part of the fun of experimenting with off-meta builds or coming up with one yourself.

Honestly, I believe this issue needs to be focused on and remedied first and foremost - if we want newer players to try the server out - before anything else is looked at. You can make a perfect synergy, balance and options with a dozen PrCs, yet it would be fighting an uphill battle since people wouldn't even look at those, or get told half way through to try it, and get frustrated when someone informs them of the hidden bonuses, because they've been crippling their builds and spent hours theorycrafting while wearing a blindfold.

TL:DR - Too much punishment and too many disadvantages to using PrCs vs core classes. Make PrCs more rewarding and have more options outside the meta if you want more people to use PrCs. Basically what KC said - all those are 100% awesome ideas.
Also fix class and feat descriptions on website and in game.

Site Admin
Posts: 3318

Re: Suggestions for Improving the Viability of PrCs

Post#7 » Sat Nov 04, 2023 10:18 am

PRC Updates on next reboot:

Bonus Feats at Levels: 4,7,10

Dragon Disciple
Bonus Feat at Level: 10
Class now high BAB

Champion of the Wild
Removed the armor proficiency requirements from the class

Bonus Feats at Levels: 4,8

Elemental Archer
Bonus Feat at Level: 5

Invisible Blade
Bonus Feats at Levels: 3,5

Mystic Theurge
Bonus Feats at Levels: 4, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28

Sacred Fist
Bonus Feats at Levels: 5, 10

Bonus Feats at Levels: 3,6,9

Bonus Feats at Levels: 5, 10
Brian Bloom

Realms of Trinity Executive Producer & Game Creator

Posts: 859

Re: Suggestions for Improving the Viability of PrCs

Post#8 » Sat Nov 04, 2023 8:21 pm

Very nice!

I've updated the original post with the announced changes :D

Posts: 164

Re: Suggestions for Improving the Viability of PrCs

Post#9 » Mon Nov 06, 2023 7:17 am

I'm going to keep submitting for more PRC's to be included for set items requirements until someone on staff basically tells me to shut up. :lol: 8-)

So far these changes are looking good!
Sanctuary, founding member

Membership to those who desire and earn,
Sanctuary and respite to all.

Site Admin
Posts: 3318

Re: Suggestions for Improving the Viability of PrCs

Post#10 » Mon Nov 06, 2023 9:22 am

Shut up!

Brian Bloom

Realms of Trinity Executive Producer & Game Creator

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