Scaling Benefits (3.5e Variant Rule)
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When making a character, there's always certain items you pick up. In fact, the game expects you to have your +6 ability items, +5 resistance bonus, +5 sword, or other benefits by endgame. Not having these things places you at a disadvantage. And yet it makes the fighter/caster divide worse as fighter-types need to spend their wealth on what they need, while casters can spend their wealth on what they want.
There's been attempts at this before which work fine enough, but there was always something off about it that didn't seem to work well. Maybe it's the oddities concerning how enhancement bonuses work, or how it seems incompatable with classes which scale your base abilities or buffing spells, or just the rate of scaling making everyone supermen, making the "dumb barbarian" or other dump-stat archetypes hard to justify when you still pack an 18 Int at the end of your progression.
So I did it different.
Weapons no longer need a base +1 to enhance. They only need be masterwork. That means you can have a flaming burst longsword without a +1.
Anyone can craft. For the purposes of item crafting feats, everyone has a caster level at least equal to their character level. This enables the fighter or monk to craft his own sword or shield. They still need to find the appropriate spells (such asfrom an ally, or a scroll). They can activate said items for the purposes of magic item creation only.
Pathfinder's feat system. It's standard in Pathfinder, but in D&D feats come only once every three levels. This grants a feat every odd level.
Anything that grants a resistance bonus. Its covered by the scaling benefits, and can't be easily converted into a similar benefit. Some resistance bonuses may be appropriate to change to other bonus types, such as things granted by a class.
Magic Weapon, Greater Magic Weapon, and Magic Vestment. And similar enhancement bonuses to weapon or armor. They now provide a +2 bonus to damage for every +1 enhancement bonus to weapons they would have provided. Magic vestment now increases your touch AC up to your normal AC.
Classes which provide scaling weapon or armor enhancement bonuses. Treat it as the changes to magic weapon, greater magic weapon, and magic vestment above.
Enhancement Bonuses to Weapons and Armor. Treat enhancement bonuses as permanent forms of magic weapon, greater magic weapon, or magic vestment.
Familiars, Companions, and Minions. These things don't typically gain scaling benefits (except feat progression, if your companion gains feats). However you are always free to loan your benefits to your companion or a minion you own (such as a golem), though not other free willed NPCs. They are in effect magic items you can't actually lose, and just as you can hand your gloves of dexterity +4 to your wolf, you could pass your bonuses as well. Clearly when loaned, you yourself do not benefit from it.
Some Things Are The Same
You will notice I left some things the same, such as things like bull's strength, and that's fine. These spells provide larger-than-normal bonuses until they are eventually overwritten. Likewise AC buffing items are still in the game. Offensive precognition remains because the rarer insight bonus is balanced by lasting only minutes, not hours. Things like gloves of dexterity still exist, but are eventually replaced as you grow in strength. Thus you get them only if you want to enjoy the benefits early.
The Scaling Benefits
The enhancement bonus to ability scores works as follows; at 2nd level you gain 1/2 your level as an enhancement bonus to two scores of your choice. At 3rd you gain 1/3rd your level to two additional scores, and at 5th level you gain 1/5th your level to your final two remaining ability scores. You may swap what bonus goes to what ability score when you level up. This allows you to still specialize and retain weaknesses in certain areas by determining where you want your ability bonuses to go.
Being unarmored is considered an armor bonus of +0, so you still benefit from the enhancement bonus. You need a shield to gain the shield enhancement bonus.
All of the benefits given here are considered extraordinary abilities.
|Character Level||Enhancement Bonus to Weapons and Armor or Shield||Enhancement Bonus to Ability Scores||Resistance Bonus to Saves||Feats|
The table above presumes a higher balance point, but in case it is too much try this Lesser Scaling Benefits table.
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