Noncaster "Wizard Did It" Thread Split-Off: "She's Just That Good"

Libertad

Knight in tarnished armor
Validated User
#1
Back in another thread, I discussed allowing noncasters in Dungeons & Dragons to have abilities which could replicate spell-like effects.

We had a good discussion, but the thread turned into a rehash of "Fighters vs. Wizards" and the follies of 3rd Edition.

I created this thread to have a discussion about the noncaster classes (Barbarians, Fighters, Rogues/Thieves, Monks, etc.) and ones which don't heavily rely on magic (like Rangers), and specifically what sorts of things they should be "Just That Good" at.

I'll start with some examples:

I Know You're Hiding: A warrior must be keenly aware of hidden threats, be they assassins on the rooftops or wraiths in the Ethereal Plane. The warrior (such as a Barbarian or Fighter) gains the means of perceiving opponents with complete cover (such as behind a wall or invisible)as though they lacked these qualities within a certain radius (say 30 to 60 feet). This ability is most appropriate for Barbarians, Fighters, and Rangers.

No. Jump Good: The grasshopper and the tick can clear distances many times their own body length. The Thri-Kreen can perfect this ability as well. By studying these beings, or through simple trial and error, you have learned to replicate their abilities with such perfection that you may as well be flying. You gain a Fly speed (30-60 feet) for one round, and must be on solid ground to use this ability. If you end your turn in mid-air, you begin falling. Also, you've learned to minimize impact from deadly heights, and become immune to falling damage. This is most appropriate for Rogues/Thieves, Rangers, Monks, and athletically-inclined classes.

Knowing What I Know About Him, He'll Do This: Roll an appropriate check (usually an Intelligence or investigation-related skill) when contemplating an individual's course of action. You gain the Scrying ability against this person, and can describe the events happening to your companions as you "theorize" possibilities. Or you can keep it to yourself.

Snap Out of It!: You give several words of scorn and criticism to somebody under mental control. Roll an appropriate check (usually social and Charisma-related). If successful, the mental effect ends and the subject regains his autonomy. Once you get past a certain level of skill, you can use this against multiple targets, even entire legions of mind-slaves. This is most appropriate for Fighters, Knights, Paladins, and "leader of men" style archetypes.

Deflect Spells: Spells such as rays, balls of fire, and magic missiles are but projectiles which can be directed off course via physical exertion. Roll an appropriate check (a combat-related one). If successful, the spell rebounds off of your weapon in a direction of your choosing. At a certain level of skill, you can interpose yourself in the line of fire of nearby targets and redirect spells aimed at them, effectively acting as a "shield" for allies. This is most appropriate for defense-focused and duelist archetypes.

Master of Lies: Some people lie so often and effortlessly can they can fool even divination spells. They do this through a mental defense mechanism of self-deception where they convince themselves that what is false is true. In addition to traditional forms of resistance (saving throws and magic items), you can beat divination spells with a successful check (deception-related) and give out false information. The spellcaster will believe that the spell was successful, and you can choose what information appears ("Fafnir is staying at home, far away from the castle's vault"). You can even do this when dead, such as Speak With Dead spells cast upon your corpse (tricky little spirit!). This is most appropriate for Rogues/Thieves.

The Animal Whisperer: You've spent so much time learning the ways of the wild that you can understand the speech of beasts. You are under a continuous Speak With Animals (or the Edition's equivalent) spell. Past a certain level of expertise, you can now speak with plants, insects and vermin, and even the stones! This ability is most appropriate for Barbarians and Rangers.

Important Note: I don't want this discussion and its examples to be restricted to 3rd Edition, or any single Edition for that matter. And I don't want the thread to turn into another "Caster Supremacy" or "Fighters vs. Wizards" argument. The original thread linked at the top serves that purpose well enough.
 
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Kimera757

Registered User
Validated User
#2
Back in another thread, I discussed allowing noncasters in Dungeons & Dragons to have abilities which could replicate spell-like effects.

We had a good discussion, but the thread turned into a rehash of "Fighters vs. Wizards" and the follies of 3rd Edition.

I created this thread to have a discussion about the noncaster classes (Barbarians, Fighters, Rogues/Thieves, Monks, etc.) and ones which don't heavily rely on magic (like Rangers), and what sorts of things they should be "Just That Good" at. I don't want this discussion and its examples to be restricted to 3rd Edition, or any single Edition for that matter. And I don't want the thread to turn into another "Caster Supremacy" argument.

I'll start with some ideas:

I Know You're Hiding: A warrior must be keenly aware of hidden threats, be they assassins on the rooftops or wraiths in the Ethereal Plane. The warrior (such as a Barbarian or Fighter) gains the means of perceiving opponents with complete cover (such as behind a wall or invisible)as though they lacked these qualities within a certain radius (say 30 to 60 feet). This ability is most appropriate for Barbarians, Fighters, and Rangers.
You didn't want to restrict this to discussion of 3rd edition, but I think we have to discuss edition here. In 3.x, a fighter doesn't have Spot as a class skill, and being invisible gives huge bonuses to Stealth. In 4e, anyone can take Skill Training for any skill, and auto-fill those skill "ranks", plus being invisible is identical to hide in plain sight, with no bonuses to Stealth at all. Said ability is far more useful in 3.x than in 4e.

I think the real problem is the rules of being invisible (or blind) in 3.x. It also doesn't make sense that a fighter could see an ethereal wraith unless someone else could. At best, he'd get a vague feeling of being watched, which would negate surprise, and not help a whole lot once combat starts. (Even Blindfight is only useful within melee range.) I can't think of any way for a fighter to spot an ethereal wraith that doesn't break suspension of disbelief without changing the rules of being invisible and ethereal.

No. Jump Good: The grasshopper and the tick can clear distances many times their own body length. The Thri-Kreen can perfect this ability as well. By studying these beings, or through simple trial and error, you have learned to replicate their abilities with such perfection that you may as well be flying. You gain a Fly speed (30-60 feet) for one round, and must be on solid ground to use this ability. If you end your turn in mid-air, you begin falling. Also, you've learned to minimize impact from deadly heights, and become immune to falling damage. This is most appropriate for Rogues/Thieves, Rangers, Monks, and athletically-inclined classes.
I think this is clearly breaking the suspension of belief. A grasshopper or flea (or thri-kreen!) can jump so far because of the way they are shaped and the way they evolved (or created by a divine or primordial power, if you like). Humans (and demihumans) simply do not have these abilities. No amount of watching a bird fly is going to let me fly without mechanical aid. I don't see how watching a kangaroo jump is going to make me much better at jumping.

Knowing What I Know About Him, He'll Do This: Roll an appropriate check (usually an Intelligence or investigation-related skill) when contemplating an individual's course of action. You gain the Scrying ability against this person, and can describe the events happening to your companions as you "theorize" possibilities. Or you can keep it to yourself.
This needs a tremendous amount of supporting text to keep it balanced, something on the order of the Call of Friendship ritual in 4e. Also it should not reference a spell. If you could effectively "scry" on someone, you could learn new information such as the face of the person they're talking to, what accent or language that person is talking in, what they're talking about... none of this information could plausibly be available to even Sherlock Holmes.

The martial character's ability to avoid being scryed on would, quite frankly, be more useful. If Scrying had more limits written into the spell, paranoid plotting warlords could retreat into their secure council chamber and discuss things without too much fear of being overheard. There would be a sort of "arms race" there, which is pretty realistic. (There's no such thing as unstoppable surveillance, but there's no such thing as perfect security either.)

Snap Out of It!: You give several words of scorn and criticism to somebody under mental control. Roll an appropriate check (usually social and Charisma-related). If successful, the mental effect ends and the subject regains his autonomy. Once you get past a certain level of skill, you can use this against multiple targets, even entire legions of mind-slaves. This is most appropriate for Fighters, Knights, Paladins, and "leader of men" style archetypes.
This is more like it. There's actually a few 4e powers like this. I vaguely recall reading you could use Heal this way in 3.x, perhaps in the Epic Level Handbook.

Deflect Spells: Spells such as rays, balls of fire, and magic missiles are but projectiles which can be directed off course via physical exertion. Roll an appropriate check (a combat-related one). If successful, the spell rebounds off of your weapon in a direction of your choosing. At a certain level of skill, you can interpose yourself in the line of fire of nearby targets and redirect spells aimed at them, effectively acting as a "shield" for allies. This is most appropriate for defense-focused and duelist archetypes.
Considering the most dangerous spells don't do a whole lot of damage directly, and martial characters are protected by high hit point totals and/or high Reflex saves plus Evasion, I see little point of this in balance terms. A fighter being able to deflect a Fireball coming at his friend? Sure, it's cool and suits their role in game. Does the fighter itself need that ability? Not really, no. They already have loads of hit points.

Master of Lies: Some people lie so often and effortlessly can they can fool even divination spells. They do this through a mental defense mechanism of self-deception where they convince themselves that what is false is true. In addition to traditional forms of resistance (saving throws and magic items), you can beat divination spells with a successful check (deception-related) and give out false information. The spellcaster will believe that the spell was successful, and you can choose what information appears ("Fafnir is staying at home, far away from the castle's vault"). You can even do this when dead, such as Speak With Dead spells cast upon your corpse (tricky little spirit!). This is most appropriate for Rogues/Thieves.
Sounds like Revolver Ocelot versus a mind-reader. This is pretty similar to what you could do in real-life (if, say, you were a master of deception and were being interrogated by a cold reader).

The Animal Whisperer: You've spent so much time learning the ways of the wild that you can understand the speech of beasts. You are under a continuous Speak With Animals (or the Edition's equivalent) spell. Past a certain level of expertise, you can now speak with plants, insects and vermin, and even the stones! This ability is most appropriate for Barbarians and Rangers.
I sort of like this one. I don't think you should literally be able to "talk" with anything other than an animal (or vermin) though. No amount of skill will let you talk to a tree, or a stone. It's more along the lines of "Look at those birds circling. Something has obviously disturbed them. Maybe there's people hiding there."

I suppose my main objection is, if you're breaking the suspension of disbelief (to the point of using spell-like abilities), you can't call these characters non-casters. Even if they're using ritual-style magic rather than spells, they're still using magic.

Edit: Sorry if this sounded like edition warring, but I only pointed out 3rd edition issues twice (out of many more examples; the hiding and spell deflection examples).
 
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Libertad

Knight in tarnished armor
Validated User
#3
1. I think the real problem is the rules of being invisible (or blind) in 3.x. It also doesn't make sense that a fighter could see an ethereal wraith unless someone else could. At best, he'd get a vague feeling of being watched, which would negate surprise, and not help a whole lot once combat starts. (Even Blindfight is only useful within melee range.) I can't think of any way for a fighter to spot an ethereal wraith that doesn't break suspension of disbelief without changing the rules of being invisible and ethereal.

2. I think this is clearly breaking the suspension of belief. A grasshopper or flea (or thri-kreen!) can jump so far because of the way they are shaped and the way they evolved (or created by a divine or primordial power, if you like). Humans (and demihumans) simply do not have these abilities. No amount of watching a bird fly is going to let me fly without mechanical aid. I don't see how watching a kangaroo jump is going to make me much better at jumping.

3. This needs a tremendous amount of supporting text to keep it balanced, something on the order of the Call of Friendship ritual in 4e. Also it should not reference a spell. If you could effectively "scry" on someone, you could learn new information such as the face of the person they're talking to, what accent or language that person is talking in, what they're talking about... none of this information could plausibly be available to even Sherlock Holmes.

The martial character's ability to avoid being scryed on would, quite frankly, be more useful. If Scrying had more limits written into the spell, paranoid plotting warlords could retreat into their secure council chamber and discuss things without too much fear of being overheard. There would be a sort of "arms race" there, which is pretty realistic. (There's no such thing as unstoppable surveillance, but there's no such thing as perfect security either.)

4. Considering the most dangerous spells don't do a whole lot of damage directly, and martial characters are protected by high hit point totals and/or high Reflex saves plus Evasion, I see little point of this in balance terms. A fighter being able to deflect a Fireball coming at his friend? Sure, it's cool and suits their role in game. Does the fighter itself need that ability? Not really, no. They already have loads of hit points.
1. A character with this ability might learn to rely on his other senses. Perhaps he detects the foul stench of death on the wraith, or detects some "warping" effects in the nearby air which ghosts and spirits give off.

2. Wizards can learn to cast spells via studying. A Monk can learn much of his abilities through training and getting in touch with his "ki," or inner life force. Study and inspection can grant lots of power in the world of Dungeons & Dragons.

3. Perhaps at lower levels it has to be used on people the investigator has heard of or otherwise observed indirectly (or directly). Or have different degrees of success (such as discerning fine detail). Normal magic can exceed the capabilities of Sherlock Holmes, so noncasters should be able to make amazing details about others via inductive reasoning at higher levels of expertise.

4. Ray spells may not just deal damage. They could affect ability scores and immobilize the targets. I don't know if non-damaging rays are mostly a 3.X thing, but the ability can be a useful "counterspell" for noncasters.
 
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8-Jack-8

Debugging the system
#4
I love "Just That Good" as a motto. Let's see.

The Perfect Path:At the first tier of this, the character can move at full speed through a favored terrain. One or two intermediate tiers add more, and then a capstone tier lets the character never suffer movement penalties from any obstacle she's encountered before. She's sharp-eyed and quick-witted, and practices.
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
#5
I don't have the patience to mention more than the basic ideas:

Grr. : You can make enemies flee in mortal terror. Get better and you can incapacitated them just by looking at them right.

Godlike Shine: You're so cool and obviously superior enemies will switch sides mid-battle.

Precision Strike: You know exactly where to hit to incapacitated with one blow.

Wild Yell: You have such animal magnetism that you can yell out and summon animals to your aid.
 
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Aikireikinu

Tsundere Cat
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#6
Foe Tossing Charge When the Fighter, Barbarian, or Paladin charges, they may attack every enemy in their way with a normal melee attack. If they hit, the enemy is pushed out of their way a distance up to 5' times their strength bonus, with a minimum of 5'.

Heroic Comeback
If Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger, or Paladin is incapacitated, either by dropping to 0 HP, or by some other effect short of disintegration, and on a subsequent round one of their allies is incapacitated, they stand back up at full HP, shaking off any deleterious effects.

Dismiss the Weak The Fighter, Barbarian, or Paladin ignores any attacks that do damage less than 1/2 their level. They may immediately make a normal melee attack against any enemy whose attacks they ignore.
 
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Libertad

Knight in tarnished armor
Validated User
#7
Gap In the Armor: With a successful check (perception-based), the character notices a weak spot in an opponent's armor or thick hide, and can ignore armor-related bonuses for the next attacks made this round. At higher levels of expertise he can point the weak spot out to his allies, and they can gain this benefit as well.

Scale the Colossus: As part of his movement, the character can move up in "mid-air" squares adjacent to the opponent, provided he has either a free limb capable of manipulation or is able to use his legs.
 

Solomon

Devastatin'
Validated User
#8
Tread Softly (Stealth or Acrobatics): You can walk safely on a surface that would not normally support your weight, such as a slender tree branch, thin ice or soft snow.

Poisonous Words (Bluff): You skill at deception is such that whoever listens to your words might get physically ill.

Feign Death (Endurance): You can temporarily hide your vital signs so as to appear dead.

Assess Fighting Spirit (Insight): You can guess whether an opponent is more or less powerful than you without actually seeing him fight.

Faceless (Stealth): People forget ever meeting you as soon as you're out of their sight if you so desire, provided the interaction was brief and not too unusual.

EDIT: Typos
 
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That Other Guy

Registered User
Validated User
#9
Your Puny Weapons Mean Nothing: Intimidate someone who's just struck you as you brush off their damage/remove an offending blade or arrow from your flesh.

True Grace: Treat squares occupied by living creatures (friend, foe or neutral) as empty terrain. Good for battlefield manoeuvring as well as being able to simply walk through a crowd undisturbed.
 

CarpeGuitarrem

Blogger and gamer
Validated User
#10
For a thief...

Not There: When the mages reach through reality's fabric to mess with you, they simply...can't find anything. When you would be affected by a magical effect, you may make a Stealth check to completely negate it. If the spell had a save DC, use that; otherwise, use the caster's attack roll as the DC.

Or something like that. You know, the idea that the caster can't target them because, in the magical sense, they can't be "seen", or are at least hard to "see". Holes in the fabric of magical reality.
 
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