I can see the light at the end of the tunnel...
It's been a long, long trip to this point, but we're into the home stretch. There are still a few holes to be plugged here and there, but other than that, the major tasks left for an alpha release are finishing the revisions to the spells list and the bestiary.
So, I'm feeling comfortable enough about the finished project to start providing real details. The caveat, of course, is that everything is subject to change, but that'll be true throughout any alpha or beta testing anyway. As things currently stand, here's the project's README, which contains a brief discussion of the major changes (with respect to the SRD) in the system.
Copyright © 2010 Victorious Press, LLC
Release Notes (1.0 alpha 1)
For players familiar with the base 3.5 system, much of the material in this alpha release will look familiar, although it is strongly suggested that players and referees review everything to ensure that critical changes are not accidentally missed.
As part of the ongoing process of a complete system overhaul, some sections of the rules have not yet been completely converted. In any case where a rule is not provided, use the existing rule from the System eference Document.
It would be a monumental task to describe in detail all of the changes to the system. Instead, the major changes are described briefly below.
In general, classes were given more options and class features scale better with level. Especially given level-scaling abilities, base classes should now be more attractive to stay in for longer periods without jumping to a prestige class as soon as possible.
Martial classes, on the whole, should be more powerful at higher levels. Not only have they been given more, and more powerful, class features, but improvements to feats should also help combat-centric classes more.
Alignment restrictions have been removed. Referees may add alignment restrictions based on setting considerations, but the default mechanic is not so constrained.
- Bards can gain bonus spells known for a high Intelligence.
- Bards gain a bonus feat every 5 levels
- Bards have many more performances to choose from, and gain a new performance at each level.
- Rage is once per encounter, not X/day.
- By default, rage is uncontrolled; it is triggered on taking damage.
- Barbarians gain a choice of rage abilities to improve their rages.
- Barbarians gain faster damage reduction.
- Clerics gain spells per day more slowly.
- Domains are much more relevant now:
- Domains affect the types/subtypes of creatures that a cleric may turn or rebuke.
- Spontaneous casting is domain driven, not restricted to just cure/inflict spells.
- Domain abilities generally scale with level.
- Turn/rebuke mechanic scales better with level.
- Druids gain spells per day more slowly.
- Wild shape is replaced by a modified “aspect of nature” mechanic; the aspects scale with level and can be used from 1st level.
- Druids have three choices of specialization, which affects the class abilities they gain:
- Controllers gain an animal companion and the ability to rebuke plants.
- Creators can spontaneously cast summon nature's ally spells and can augment their summons.
- Emulators gain more uses of their aspects and the ability to use more at once plus the Thousand Faces ability.
- Fighters gain new and/or improve existing class features at every odd level.
- Due to the improvements to feats, the fighter's bonus feats should prove to be more valuable.
- Monks now get full base attack bonus.
- Monks can flurry as a standard action.
- Monks can add Wisdom to damage instead of Strength.
- Monk styles are mandatory, more have been added, and tier IV and V abilities have been added as well.
- Ki strike now allows the monk to customize his abilities.
- Monks gain additional movement-based abilities as class features.
- Paladins no longer exist as a base class. See the Champion prestige class instead.
- Combat styles offer more, and more flexible, benefits.
- Favored enemy has been replaced by a more generalized hunter's insight ability (which subsumes favored enemies) that allows more flexibility.
- Sneak attack has been changed to precise strike, which provides a sneak-attack like ability that is more applicable to different situations.
- Rogues gain a choice of a rogue ability at 1st level and every even level. Class abilities like evasion are now rogue abilities, and are joined by other options including bonus feats and additional improvements to precise strike.
- Sorcerers no longer gain a familiar.
- Sorcerers gain bonus spells known for having a high intelligence.
- Sorcerers may gain access to a new spell level one level earlier if they have sufficiently high Intelligence and Charisma.
- Sorcerers gain a free minor bloodline. (See class description for details.)
- Sorcerers gain the ability to apply metamagic to spells without increasing casting time; the amount of allowed metamagic adjustment for this ability scales by level.
- Wizards gain spells per day more slowly.
- Specialization is now mandatory
- No bonus spell per day for the specialized school is awarded.
- Wizards gain a level-based ability associated with their school plus a caster level bonus for spells cast from their specialized school.
- Wizards must choose three restricted schools; they may still cast from these schools, but with a lower maximum spell level and with a caster level penalty.
- Wizards may choose either a familiar or a bonded item.
- Familiars can continue to share noninstantaneous spells without having to remain within 5' after casting.
- Familiars can be imbued with some of their master's spell slots.
- Bonded items grant additional powers at a cost of dependency on the item.
- Loss of a familiar or a bonded item is nontrivial, but much less costly.
- Wizards gain at-will spells at 1st level and every 4th level, starting with a cantrip at 1st level.
- Wizards now gain a bonus feat at 2nd level and every 4th level thereafter instead of evey 5th level.
Note that some prestige classes that advance class feature levels of the character's base class(es). This makes these prestige classes more powerful than they might otherwise appear from their class features.
In general, a prestige class should require a trade-off, even if that trade-off is being unable to advance base class features (which are generally now more powerful and level-scaling) or to delay their progression.
For example, the Archmage prestige class is no longer strictly better than staying with the Wizard base class, due to the fact that the base class has interesting abilities as well.
- Racial requirement has been removed.
- Arcane archers gain 7/10 spellcasting progression.
- Enhance bow is more powerful and flexible.
- Imbue arrow can channel a targeted spell as well as an area spell.
- Hail of arrows is granted earlier and specifically allows precision damage on each arrow.
- Seeker arrow and phase arrow have been merged and my be used in conjunction with imbue arrow.
- Arrow of death requires no special preparation and scales with caster level.
- New monk/arcane caster prestige class.
- Naming convention changes (such as precise strike) only.
- Assassins advance class feature level (see multiclassing).
- Death attack is simpler and more effective.
- Hide in plain sight is granted earlier, but with a level-dependent penalty to hide checks.
- Replaces Paladin base class and Blackguard prestige class.
- Offers 5 variants based on ideal alignments (LG, CG, LE, CE, TN).
- Essentially compresses Paladins down to 10 levels with alignment ideal variations in abilities.
- Replaces Dwarven Defender prestige class
- Racial requirement has been removed.
- Defenders advance class feature level (see multiclassing).
- Defenders gain faster damage reduction.
- Defenders gain additional battlefield control abilities.
- New monk/divine caster prestige class
- Dragon disciples advance class feature level (see multiclassing).
- Dragon disciples no longer gain bonus spells known (but can increase spellcasting via class feature level advancement instead).
- Duelists advance class feature level (see multiclassing).
- Duelists can add their Intelligence bonus to attacks, within guidelines.
- Precise strike stacks with other precise strike sources, except that it may not be used for sneak attacks.
- Eldritch knights gain additional bonus feats; each may come from either the Fighter or Wizard bonus feat list.
- Eldritch knights gain the ability to ignore a level-dependent amount of arcane spell failure chance from armor and/or shields.
- Eldritch knights gain the ability to channel touch spells via their melee weapon attacks.
- New barbarian/divine caster prestige class.
- Changes to prerequisities to make the prestige class reasonably accessible to both divine and nature spellcaters.
- Minor changes in special abilities to properly reflect changes in cleric and druid class features.
- Horizon walkers advance class feature level (see multiclassing).
- Mystic theurges gain a level-dependent ability to cast multiple spells (one arcane, one divine) in the same action.
- Shadowdancers advance class feature level (see multiclassing).
- Hide in plain sight carries a level-dependent penalty to hide checks.
- Darkvision continues to improve over levels.
- Summon shadow scales more smoothly and carries a lower penalty for a destroyed or dismissed shadow.
- New bard-like prestige class
- By default, a character may only have one base class.
- A feat (Multiclassed) provides the ability to take an additional base class.
- Multiclassing no longer carries a potential XP penalty; racial favored classes instead provide the Multiclassed feat for a relevant class as a racial bonus.
- The effective class level (“class feature level”) for each of your base classes is your class level + ½ x (other base class levels + racial hit dice + bloodline levels + racial paragon levels + certain prestige class levels), not to exceed 2 x class level. Use class feature level instead of actual class level to determine all class features.
- Fractional base attack bonus and saves are now standard.
Playing Unusual Creatures
- Any creature may exchange 1 racial HD (or it's partial HD) for its first class level.
- You automatically reduce level adjustment by 1 (to a minimum of 0) at every three character levels, except for levels due to racial hit dice.
- Skills are chosen once for each class.
- Even skills not selected with skill points advance over levels, but more slowly. Class skills advance more quickly than cross-class skills.
- Opposed skill checks are resolved with a single roll.
- Using concentration to cast defensively has changed; it provides a bonus to AC rather than immunity to opportunity attacks.
- Diplomacy has changed, significantly.1
- Use magic device has been removed (see feats).
- Many combat-oriented feats now scale with level. Several “feat chains” have been reduced to a single feat that scales. (Two-weapon fighting being the most notable.)
- Half-feats allow 2 “lesser” feats to be chosen instead of one regular feat; many half-feats are new (or lesser versions of other feats) and several
situational feats such as skill bonus feats are included as half feats.
- Use magic device is now a feat that works similarly to, but somewhat differently from, the former use magical device skill.
- A significant number of feats have been added.
- Leadership has been removed.
General Spellcasting Changes
- Spellcasting is now levels 0-10 for formerly “9-level” spellcasting classes. Some higher level spells have had their spell levels changed accordingly; some new spells have been added.
- A new spell school (Dimension) has been added, mostly by regrouping existing spells, although some new spells have been added.
- Spell save DC is always calculated using Charisma as the modifier; all spellcasters can benefit from having a high Charisma and either a high
Intelligence or a high Wisdom, depending on the casting class. (Even bards and sorcerers benefit from high Intelligence with additional spells known.)
- Magic now has three “types”: arcane, divine, and nature. When psionics are adapted in a later release, psionic will be a fourth type of magic that
follows similar rules (although the basics of the power point system will not be altered). Overlap between the spell lists has been reduced.
- In general, metamagic reducers do not exist and class features, items, or other abilities that allow metamagic to be applied “on the fly” cannot be used if the modified spell level would be beyond the caster's normal maximum.
For example: a quickened fireball would normally take up a 7th level spell slot. A 12th level wizard, whose maximum spell level is 6th, could therefore not use a rod of metamagic (quicken) on a prepared fireball spell, though he could use the rod on a scorching ray, a lower-level spell.
- Many “save or lose” spells are changed to “save ends”.
- Most spells causing instant death now instead reduce the target to -1 hp and the target cannot stabilize without some form of healing.
- Several known abuses and loopholes have beenfixed.
- The polymorph line has been drastically modified.2
- Disjunction is now extremely less likely to permanently destroy magic items and cannot destroy artifacts.
- Spells that emulate other spells (e.g., shadow conjuration) have been eliminated.
- XP costs have been replaced by “magical essence” costs (see item creation)
- Combat maneuvers (disarm, sunder, trip, et. al.) are now generally simplified and are resolved with a single roll.
- Grapple is still slightly more complicated, due to it being an ongoing condition, but has likewise been significantly simplified.
- An additional combat maneuver (Sweep) has been added.
- Light, heavy, and tower shields provide more AC bonus and double their base (but not enhanced, if any) AC bonus when fighting defensively.
- Spiked chains, other than requiring two hands to wield, are treated as light weapons.
- Magical essence replaces XP costs. Magical essence comes from two sources:
- XP can be converted to magical essence.
- Magical items can be “cannibalized” for magical essence. This returns less magical essence than was used to create the item, although having the appropriate crafting feat increases the rate of return.
- Time to create a magical item decreases with caster level.
- Experience awards are based on encounter level, not individual challenge ratings.
- Regardless of a character's current effective character level, the experience award is based solely on the difference between a character's effective character level and the encounter level.
- An encounter with an encounter level equal to your effective character level is worth a base 100 XP. Easier encounters (as determined by encounter level) are worth less and harder encounters (as determined by encounter level) are worth more.
- The amount of XP required to level is the same for every level (default: 1200).
- When converting XP to magical essence, for each point of XP used, you gain an amount of magical essence equal to your effective character level.
- Base classes do not provide features beyond 20th class feature level. Actual caster level in a spellcasting class is likewise capped at 20th, although class features, racial features, feats and the like that provide bonuses to caster level can cause the effective caster level to be higher.
- Bloodlines do not provide any benefit past character level 20th.
- Prestige classes and racial paragon classes do not have “epic progressions”
- All characters gain the Multiclassed feat as a bonus feat at 21st character level and every 10th character level thereafter.
- Characters continue to accrue hit dice, base attack bonus, base saving throw bonuses, and skill ranks by class.
- Characters continue to gain additional iterative attacks for every 5 points of base attack bonus greater than +16.
- Many SRD epic feats have been kept, notable exceptions being Epic Spellcasting, Epic Leadership, and other feats that have been subsumed by changes to non-epic feats, base classes, and prestige classes.
1Using 3rd party OGL mechanics.
2Derived from 3rd party OGL mechanics.