New Level-Dependent Benefits (3.5e Variant Rule)

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Author: MisterSinister (talk)
Co-Authors: Ghostwheel
Date Created: 4th November 2010
Status: Finished
Editing: Clarity edits only please
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A Note on Usage[edit]

These rules are intended to be used with the fixed bonus types and simplified items rules.

The Problem[edit]

It is an established fact that additional bonuses are needed for characters in DnD at higher levels in order to stand up to their expected competition - it is even stated as such throughout. However, although these bonuses are necessary, the way characters go about acquiring them is a little bit strange. Firstly, although they are very necessary, they are made to look optional. Secondly, some classes need fewer of them than others, and some characters become increasingly item-reliant as they gain levels, while others don't. Lastly, some classes have an easier time of accessing such bonuses than others. However, this isn't even the only problem in advancement - nobody gets enough feats, either.

To gain the very necessary bonuses, it becomes important for characters to have items, such as magical swords, magical armour, ability enhancing items and so forth. These do nothing other than ensure that you are still playing the same game as you were before, due to inflation of monster ability scores and abilities more generally. However, these abilities are 'competing' with other items, which, instead of providing these numbers, do other (and actually cooler) things, such as swords that are on fire or items that let you fly. This poses a serious problem, as people either ignore the cool items and go straight for the numbers (which leads to effective, but highly-boring characters and much in the way of item ignoring and invalidation), or, usually through inexperience, instead go for all the cool items (and end up hopelessly behind on the numbers that they need). When combined with the fact that DnD tradition states items as being both random (in that you don't control how you get them) and optional (in that it is within the GM's power to not give you any), this causes severe problems for people both being cool and remaining capable in the face of higher-level threats.

On top of this, it's a badly-kept secret that some classes need items more than others. The spells of a wizard or cleric scale just fine on their own, and don't really need much in the way of items to make them keep up. In fact, full casting classes only really need to improve one ability score (the one they cast their spells off), and in some cases, gain an item that improves their saves, while the rest is handled by their spells. Those who don't have spellcasting, however, need to improve several stats, as well as owning magic weapons (due to a wide array of resistances and DRs among monsters), magic armour, possibly a magic shield, etc. This is already a huge problem, as this means that certain classes must spend more money on the items they need to function, while others don't. When you add in the fact that spells can often substitute for such items (which gives full casters as even bigger advantage), the flaws of this system become more apparent than ever.

However, this isn't even the end of this particular problem. Due to the way spells naturally scale to level, and also due to casters being the only ones who can make magic items, the reliance of non-casting classes on the casting classes, and their items, becomes bigger with higher levels. This means that for a non-caster, losing their gear is a death sentence at higher levels, while casters see it as a bother, but not a huge one. One also sometimes has to wonder how non-caster classes are supposed to cope at all, given that they need items, but cannot get them except by begging favours or GM fiat. When you also take into account static wealth-by-level at each level, and the stuff mentioned in the previous paragraph, it means that the non-caster classes rely on the caster classes far more than the reverse is true, and basically cannot play the same game on their own.

Additionally, these aren't the only problems with advancement as it's given - feats are also problematic in the game as-are. This is simply because nobody ever gets enough of them! Any given character that isn't human, or that doesn't get any bonus feats, will probably see about seven feats in their entire career, which, given their fairly narrow scope, is not a good thing at all. Additionally, they are gained too slowly, which ultimately hurts noncasters more than casters, as they rely on them a lot more.

The Solution[edit]

Replace the 'Experience and Level-Dependent Benefits' table with the one given here. All of the benefits given here are considered extraordinary abilities.

Level-Dependent Benefits
Character Level Enhancement Bonus to Attack Rolls, Damage Rolls and Saves Enhancement Bonus to Ability Scores and AC Class Skill Max Ranks Cross-Class Skill Max Ranks Feats Increase of One Ability Score by 1
1st +0 +0 4 2 1st -
2nd +0 +1 5 2 - -
3rd +1 +1 6 3 2nd -
4th +1 +2 7 3 - 1st
5th +1 +2 8 4 3rd -
6th +2 +3 9 4 - -
7th +2 +3 10 5 4th -
8th +2 +4 11 5 - 2nd
9th +3 +4 12 6 5th -
10th +3 +5 13 6 - -
11th +3 +5 14 7 6th -
12th +4 +6 15 7 - 3rd
13th +4 +6 16 8 7th -
14th +4 +7 17 8 - -
15th +5 +7 18 9 8th -
16th +5 +8 19 9 - 4th
17th +5 +8 20 10 9th -
18th +6 +9 21 10 - -
19th +6 +9 22 11 10th -
20th +6 +10 23 11 - 5th

As part of this, the touch AC calculation also changes slightly. From now on, the touch AC of a character only ignores their armour, natural armour or shield bonuses to AC - not their enhancement bonus to AC.

MisterSinister's Homebrew (321 Articles)
Ghostwheel's Homebrew (310 Articles)
Article BalanceUnquantifiable +
AuthorMisterSinister + and Ghostwheel +
Identifier3.5e Variant Rule +
Rated BySpanambula +
RatingRating Pending +
TitleNew Level-Dependent Benefits +