My primary aim for revising the classes was to make them a) interesting; b) viable at all levels; and c) fun to play. I envisioned what each class' archetype, or role was, and developed abilities based on that. Now, I'm not not talking 4E roles here - I'm going with generic roles. For example, a barbarian is someone who rages in battle, or can be a tribal champion. These greatly helped to redefine the classes and come up with different paths of focus for them. Where before two characters of the same class would be more or less the same (ability-wise) except for feats, now the classes are more unique.

In case anyone cares, I use a formula for figuring out skill points; it's equal to (number of class skills)/3, round the nearest multiple of 6. So, for instance, a class with 13 skills would get 4 + Int. If it falls directly between two multiples (like 21), use your best judgment.


Bards badly needed an overhaul (and probably still need some work) - they had a little of everything but weren't good at anything (besides RP), their songs were weak (except for fascinate, which was horribly broken), and said songs were granted at the exact same level, ensuring that pretty every much every bard was like every other bard (not to mention that you could tell a bard's level just by hearing what song he was singing).

So. First off, I gave them some class abilities besides their music - bardic knowledge got beefed up, and I gave them some language skills and better skill abilities. Second, I split up the music into four broad groups - battle, music, countersongs, and buffs - then I added enough songs so that each had four, for a total of sixteen songs. After that, I made it so that you could pick and choose among the lower-level songs easily, but the higher-level ones required some dedication - if you want the best battle song, for instance, you're most likely going to be a battle bard. I also added some scaling rules for bards who score especially high to give them a little boost.

The formula I used for determining the bardic song DCs is 11 + class level + (class level/3).


Awhile back, I was thinking about what to do with the cleric. For some reason, I thought about what Pathfinder had done with domains; I did something similar with wizard and it worked out well. The problem with the PF cleric, though, is that they gain ALL the abilities from ALL the domains they get, which makes them even more powerful than before. I'd already limited clerics' domains - they get one at 1st level and another at 10th - but I didn't want to go that route as well.

Then I thought… why not ditch the spells and replace them with abilities, similar to PF? They only get four abilities (it's kind of an over-arching theme I've got, and a nice round number), plus the standard granted power. At 5th level, you can choose a new domain, or gain a second power from your first one, etc.

I also figured out a way to make greater and lesser access work. Limiting spells or doing spheres, like in 2E, doesn't work - I've tried it. But what you can do is limit domain abilities. If a cleric's god has greater access to the domain in question, he can choose all four abilities; if the god has lesser access, he gains only the first two.

As part of this system, turn undead is limited to the Good and Sun domains, and command/rebuke is limited to the Evil domain (and Undeath or other undead-related domains, if you use them); it also becomes a feat so other clerics can take it, but it's no longer a default ability. Instead, clerics' abilities are defined by their domains (and by extension, which god they worship). Most gods will have at least one alignment portfolio as a minor access, so there's still a good chance for a given cleric to have/get turning or rebuking. Alternately, you can keep the "turning" ability, but change it to channeling, similar to Pathfinder; clerics can burn a use of channeling to accomplish a domain ability that is noted as being usable 1 + Cha bonus times per day (in which case the number of uses changes to the number of turn attempts you have, and can be increased with the Extra Turning feat).

Paladins are similar to clerics, except that they gain only lesser access to greater domains, and no access to lesser domains - while they're champions of their gods, they also focus more on force of arms than divine might (and they already have a load of abilities). Druids don't follow this system at all - besides having tons of abilities, they worship nature or the earth, not specific gods.

And finally… the Extra Domain feat lets you:

a) Choose a new domain that is related to the god in some way, but which he doesn't already have (subject to the DM's discretion; it's a good way to add new domains);
b) Choose a new domain the god already has, as normal;
c) Choose a power of the same level or lower from any domain you already have, as normal.


Ah, the druid. Hands down the most powerful class in D&D. I had previously come up with an elegant fix for their signature ability, the wildshape - the ECL of the form couldn't exceed the class level, and the druid had to have a "list" of available forms he knew - but druids were still a "one size fits all" class. I racked my brains trying to come up with some variety, but I had nothing until I saw an idea someone else shared with me - masteries. His were slightly different than what I came up with, and not fleshed out at all, but it gave me the impetus to develop what I've got now. I've always viewed druids as closely tied to nature and the elements, so it was fairly easy to come up with four paths - nature, elements, weather, and animals - and split up their abilities a bit. Now that all druids don't have the ability to assume all kinds of forms, their power dropped significantly, and I was able to add more flavorful abilities that didn't make them overpowered.


Fighters were fairly easy to work with, and fairly hard - they already get 10 bonus feats, so giving them more class abilities could easily be overkill, but on the other hand, a bunch of bonus feats does not an interesting class make. I had already come up with various fighting styles for the Weaponmaster PrC (for 3.5), but it wasn't very appropriate for that class and it fit the fighter better, so I stole them. The new fighter also got weapon groups (from UA), and weapon feats to go along with them. To avoid the aforementioned overkill, the bonus feats at 10th and 20th went away - they get the weapon feat only. Still, with combat styles and weapon groups and bonus feats, I think fighters will once be more the kings of the battlefield.


The monk could have been a cool class when they brought it back for 3E, but instead it ended up being a bunch of disparate abilities tossed together with no thought to cohesion or logic. To be fair, it was built off the foundations of the 1E monk, but still… immunity to poison and disease? Spell resistance? Ability to speak to any living creature? Come on… where are they getting this stuff?

So, I decided to remake the monk. First, I needed an archetype. Martial artist worked well enough, and could be divorced from the Oriental flavor/baggage that has always seemed to weigh it down (why do martial artists HAVE to be Oriental? Just because the majority of martial arts in the real world originated in the Far East doesn't mean they have to in a fantasy world…).

With that in mind, I gutted the class - all the abilities except ki strike, flurry of blows, and (imp) evasion got tossed because, quite frankly, none of them made sense, nor did they fit the archetype. Timeless body got to stay because it was kind of cool (I can see the ancient martial arts master who can still open the can of whoopass) and not overly powerful. Then, I started to rebuild it. I used some ideas my DM had been using for a new campaign - monk have different fighting styles named for the four elements and the directions, loosely based off the Avatar cartoon (even though it's a kid's show, I highly recommend watching it). Each element has a different style, and the directions are focuses within the disciplines - attack, defense, etc.

The ability focus changed from Wisdom to variable according to the style (meaning monks generally wouldn't suffer from MAD, and it also made Charisma useful). The AC bonus became standardized - it's based off level instead of Wis bonus (so monk/clerics or monk/druids can't boost their Wis score and get huge bonuses); it's also a dodge bonus, instead of unnamed. Speed boost is still there, as it fits their archetype of "fast, unarmed damage dealer", though Mountain Style monks move a little more slowly. The extra attack from the flurry was dropped - 5 attacks/round at 2d10 each was a bit much, IMO, but the Wind style gets an extra attack as one of their abilities. After I'd filled in everything else, I had a few dead levels left, so I tossed in some bonus feats - but spread out this time, instead of all bunched up at the bottom. Additionally, they're not free - the monk has to qualify to take them. Also, the ki strike scales, per the revised DR rules - this makes monks' unarmed attacks much more useful at all levels.

This class underwent a LOT of revision. Originally, I had a bunch of supernatural abilities; each style could channel energy at the higher levels from their ki power, and some of the abilities were very wuxia-like, but a couple people convinced me that this was the wrong way to go - they wanted a nonmagical monk, and I gradually came around to their way of thinking. The upper-level abilities are still a little out there, but what the hell - they're thematic and believable.

Other changes: I originally had Sun and Moon styles, but I couldn't come up with enough for both, so they were combined into the Heavens Style (kind of a positive energy, anti-undead thing), but that got dropped with the change to a nonmagical monk. Someone suggested a Shadow Style instead, which I thought was a great idea; it was originally going to be a PrC (I was also going to move the really wuxia stuff like energy ki strikes to the PrCs), but it eventually made it to a base style (and the PrCs got dropped too) after some urging on my helpers' part. I really like how the class ended up overall.


Paladins were slightly easier to do than clerics. As with several other classes, I built off my previous work - in this case, the Divine Champion PrC. The Champion is a "holy knight" class - a generic paladin for any god and any alignment. I've always thought it was dumb that a paladin was limited to one alignment - good gods shouldn't be the only ones who can have holy warriors. Sure, we've got the Blackguard… a PrC. We've got two holy warriors, but one's a base class and one's a PrC. Someone fill me on the logic here, will you?

Anyway, sarcasm aside, the paladin needed some work. Besides the alignment issue, its abilities were boooring. "Ooh, I can lay on hands! And heal diseases… once per week!" *eyeroll* Add to that the pokemount (who came up with that one?) and you've got a pretty blech class.

I must admit at this point that I borrowed a bit from the Pathfinder paladin (concepts only) - they have various auras and the divine touch (I can't recall if I came up with that on my own or not), and the bonded weapon (which, admittedly, I came up with for a PrC called the Lich Knight a couple years ago). I just took the existing auras (power and faith) came up with a couple new ones, then spread out the healing ability so it scaled and was usable more often (ergo, more useful). After that, it was a simple matter to develop the bonded mount and weapon. As part of the minion rules, I also came up with more powerful (read: improved) mounts for higher-level paladins, just like druids, rangers, and wizards get. Now you can have a high-level paladin riding a griffon, pegsus, or even a dragon!


The ranger received some of the fewest changes of all. I wanted to move the focus away from combat styles (that's the fighter's thing, not the ranger's) and more toward hunter-type abilities. They keep the archery path, and also get favored terrain (duh - they're wilderness scouts) and hunter's lore (make a Knowledge check to get a bonus to attacks/damage against a creature).

After seeing a thread about favored enemies, I decided to revert their favored enemies back to the 3.0 version - Humanoid and Outsider weren't split into all those subtypes. Instead, I added the option to choose a subtype, which applies to every monster with that subtype, regardless of type. This means that an aquatic ranger can take aquatic favored enemies, or a lycanthrope hunter can take lycanthropes, or a planar ranger from Mechanus can choose chaotic enemies.


Since sorcerers were introduced with 3E, they've been one of my favorite classes. I've always thought there was something really cool about being able to tap directly into the source of magic and wield raw power, and several of the PrCs I've created in the last several years reflect that. Sorcerers, however, got the (very) short end of the stick when it comes to power - the designers overcompensated for their ability to metamagic on the fly, giving them reduced flexibility, reduced casting time for metamagic (which, on its own, pretty well balances out the free metamagic ability), and delayed spell progression. What you end up with is a gimped class that's at best a second cousin to the wizard.

The problem was, I couldn't figure out how to fix it, until recently. I had an epiphany - take the sorcerer, add in a dash of warlock, throw in the bloodlines concept from Unearthed Arcana, and stir vigorously.

I've never liked the warlock - I think it's a one-trick pony that would be better served as a (sorcerer) PrC. But, for my purposes, I was more than happy to scavenge a few concepts from it - namely, the offensive (eldritch bolt) and defensive (shield) powers.

Likewise, the bloodlines as printed were really awful, but the concept was good (perfect, in fact, for what I wanted - a justification for the sorcerer's innate magical ability). This is kind of funny, since I've never liked being forced to think that sorcerers gain their magic from draconic blood - our group always ignored that "rule".

What I ended up with, after some input from other folks, was a class that is totally unique from any other. It has its own abilities and its own identity, and got a boost in power to put it closer to the wizard.


And speaking of the wizard… this is another one that got inspiration from Pathfinder, via UA. Pathfinder's wizard cribbed a lot of its abilities from the UA school abilities, but it ends up being really overpowered. I borrowed a lot of the same abilities from UA, but used fewer of them, with a lower overall power level. Also, someone suggested some really good fixes - instead of automatically starting off as a specialist, you have to work toward it, like declaring a major in college. Thus, you can start off either as a specialist or a generalist; you gain abilities based on that choice at L2, but you can switch to the other path at L3 if you want (after that, you're stuck with it). The specialists end up getting a few extra flavorful abilities to supplement their extra spells, while arcanists (generalists) get extra spells to make up for what the specialists get. With the removal of the item creation feats (and spurred by an unrelated complaint about wizards' bonus feats being very limited), I decided to expand their list of bonus feats to encompass most spellcasting-related feats, not just metamagic (especially since sorcerers get bonus metamagic). It would make sense that wizards, with their greater breadth of magic in general, would have greater access to magic-related feats like Combat Casting and Spell Focus.

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