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Grimoire of the Balanced Wheel (3.5e Sourcebook)/Changes to Character Creation (or Who Are We?)

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Changes to Character Creation (or Who Are We?) Edit

Races Edit

  • Use races as written here.


Design Notes Edit

One of the big problem with traditional races is that they often shoehorn a player into a certain class, or certain classes virtually require certain races. For example, rarely are you going to see a half-orc who plays a sorcerer, and when playing a wizard many players go with the Gray Elf for the bonus to Intelligence rather than for the flavor of it. This variant gives players the freedom to choose whatever race they want without having to be shoehorned into a specific role, each race having a number of abilities that are good for most types of characters. While some race specifically are suited best for specific classes or archetypes, players won't shoot themselves in the foot even if they decide to play against the stereotype, all the while having flavorful abilities that truly express their race, rather than just a bonus to an ability score.

Even if you don't use this, be very careful of races with LA, or ones that get high bonuses to ability scores. Both bonuses to ability scores and LA can unbalance the game quite easily, so even if you allow races with LA, LA buyoff should not be allowed. Furthermore, at most characters should have +2 to an ability score for every LA they possess after normal ability scores are added. Thus, a race with 0 LA should have no more than +2 to an ability score, while a race with +2 LA should have no more than +6 to one ability score at most.


Point Buy Edit

Rather than the usual method of rolling or standard 3.5 point buy, Grimoire games use the following point buy:

  • All ability scores start at 10
  • Characters start with 23 points
  • The following table details the cost to increase an ability to a certain number:
Ability Point Cost
Ability Total Point Cost
11 1
12 2
13 3
14 5
15 7
16 9
17 13
18 18
  • A single score may be lowered by up to two (up to 8), giving one extra point for each one by which it is lowered


Design Notes Edit

It is important to have a level playing field under this system--rolling is often bad, since it allows for characters who are far weaker than others, and who tend not to live very long compared to other characters who roll very well. However, the usual 3.5 system for point buy isn't a very good one--it doesn't "weigh" the highest ability scores heavily enough, and it's easy for a character who just needs a single ability score to invest in it while still having room for other things. This system encourages characters to have at least a 16 in their primary score, and allows characters to still have that coveted 18 via enough investment should they truly wish it.


HP Changes Edit

  • Characters gain max HP per hit-die at every level.
  • At first level, characters gain a bonus +20 HP.


Design Notes Edit

Add design notes


Bonuses to AC Edit

  • Characters gain a Defense bonus to their AC equal to 3/4 their BAB. This bonus is added to both Touch and Flat-Footed AC, but disappears if the character becomes helpless.
  • Any miscellanous modifiers to AC (such as from other ability scores added to AC, like the monk's bonus) are considered Shield bonuses to AC and do not stack with each other. The sum of one's shield bonus to AC (if any) and one's Defense bonus to AC from BAB can be at most equal to 3/4ths one's character level +2.
  • Any effect that adds to AC without a limitation on how much Dexterity one can add to AC (such as from Bracers of Armor, spells, and the like) counts as an enhancement bonus to AC, does not stack with normal armor, and is capped at +5.


Design Notes Edit

Whereas attack bonuses scale with one's level (BAB), AC has no similar scaling mechanism. Because of this, attack rolls quickly outpace AC. This rule allows AC to stay at approximately the same level as attack rolls when taking magical items into account.

Due to the fact that ability scores can range from -1 to +12 over twenty levels (before racial scores or class abilities are factored in) adding them on top of other abilities to modifiers or numbers that rely on the RNG can quickly make them spiral out of control. This rule was made in an effort to limit that from happening by setting a hard limit on how far a second modifier (and other modifiers) could push numbers off of the RNG.

Due to the lack of a limitation on how much Dexterity one can to AC under the effect of spells such as Greater Mage Armor or when using Bracers of Armor, ACs can quickly pass over the RNG. To counteract this obvious problem, the final caveat was added.


Attack Bonus Edit

  • Characters with a medium BAB automatically gain Weapon Focus with a single weapon traditionally used by their class at first level with which they would have proficiency. For example...
    • Rogues would get Weapon Focus with a single light weapon.
    • Swordsages would get Weapon Focus with a single discipline weapon from which they have a maneuver.
    • Monks would get Weapon Focus with unarmed strikes.
  • Characters who possess at least 4 levels in a class with Medium BAB gain a +1 Competence bonus to attacks for every four levels they possess when employing "traditional" attacks. These stack with each other between classes. For example, a Rogue 4 / Ninja 4 would get +1 to attack when flanking, +1 to attack if they use Ki Points, and +2 to attack if they both flank and use Ki Points at the same time. Here are some examples of "traditional" attacks:
    • Rogues: When they flank.
    • Ninjas: In a round in which they use abilities that use up Ki Points.
    • Monks: When they use Flurry of Blows.
    • Swordsages: When they use a martial Strike or Boost.
    • Factotums: During a round in which they spend Inspiration points. (Round begins on their turn, ends at the beginning of their next turn.)
    • Scouts: When they skirmish.
    • Psychic Warriors: On a round they gain or lose psionic focus, or manifest a psionic power.
    • Soulknives: When they make an attack that adds their Psychic Strike damage


Design Notes Edit

Having a bonus to attack 5 lower than equivalent characters can be downright crippling--especially at higher levels. To offset that, these Competence bonuses that stack with each other come into play. (For example, a Monk 4 / Rogue 4 who used Flurry of Blows from a flanking position would gain a +2 Competence bonus to attack.) They allow characters to still feel the effects of lower BAB in situations that aren't ideal, yet at the same time allow them to gain the same bonuses as similar characters when they use their strongest abilities.


Saves Edit

  • The saves of characters is equal to 1/2 their character level plus their relevent ability modifier plus the resistance bonus from their cloak of resistance (balanced wealth variant) plus their class bonus.
  • As far as relevant ability modifiers go, Strength or Constitution may add to Fortitude saves, Dexterity or Intelligence may add to Reflex saves, and Wisdom or Charisma may add to Will saves.
  • Class bonus is as follows:
    • If a class gets a single good save and two poor saves, they get +2 to that good save.
    • If a class gets two good saves and one poor save, they get +1 to both good saves.
    • If a class gets three good saves, they get +1 to all saves.
  • Only one class bonus applies to characters, of the player's choice. A player may change the class bonus that they chose when they gain a level.
    • For example, a rogue / cleric could either choose to get +2 to Reflex saves, or +1 to Fortitude and Will saves, and may change their choice when they gain a level.
  • Divine Grace and other effects that add bonuses to saves instead allow the character to add the bonus that they would get once per encounter to each save as an immediate action. This addition may be made after the character rolls their save, but before the DM announces the result.
    • For example, a paladin with a +5 charisma modifier could upon being targeted by an effect that calls for a Will save, as an immediate action, add +5 to their roll. Later in the encounter when targeted by an effect that calls for a Fortitude save, they could could add +5 to that save, but if targeted again by a Will save they would be unable to get another +5 to their roll.
    • On the other hand, a crusader with Indomitable Soul and a +4 Charisma bonus would be able to add +4 to their Will save once per encounter, but would be unable to add that Charisma modifier to any other save since Indomitable Soul normally only adds their Charisma bonus to Will saves.


Design Notes Edit

Add design notes. Mention how feats that replace ability scores with others to a save shouldn't be added. (Example: Steadfast Determination)


Healing Surges and Taking Stock Edit

Use the following two rules in conjunction:


Design Notes Edit

While we want to create a system that's based around a per-encounter perspective, we also don't want to allow characters to adventure forever and ever. With healing surges, characters have a "soft" cap of how many encounters they can survive per day before needing to rest, and also have a way to heal themselves between combats so that they don't have to have a healer along.

Furthermore, stopping magical healing from completely curing a character of all damage stops the party from simply buying a wand of lesser vigor and being able to adventure for twenty encounters at a time, relying completely on the magical healing to keep them going.

Variant: If you find that characters are going through too many or too few healing surges over the course of battle, reduce or increase the amount of healing surges they get per day.


Feats Edit

  • On top of the usual feat progression (1, 3, 6, 9, 12...) characters get an extra bonus feat at levels two, four, and five.


Design Notes Edit

For a system that relies heavily on feats to differentiate characters, Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 doesn't award enough feats to allow for some of the more interesting combinations. This is especially visible at low levels, when characters need a number of very specific low-level feats to be effective, but don't get them under the core system. This variant replaces both flaws or any other system in place that gives extra feats as part of one's character as a matter of course.


Size Bonuses Edit

  • Size bonuses to special attacks (grapple, bull rush, overrun, and so on) as well as Hide checks are inverse (or equal, the case of Hide) to the bonus or penalty to attack rolls.
    • For example, a Large creature would gain +1 to grapple checks and -1 to Hide checks, while a Small creature would gain -1 to grapple checks and +1 to Hide checks.


Design Notes Edit

Adding size modifiers, especially when characters or monsters are taken to extremes, can often throw a creature off of the RNG. While the bonuses under this variant are still meaningful, they make such attacks less overwhelming for enemies who don't specialize in said abilities.


Attackers Roll All Dice Edit

  • Replace a defender's saves with static defenses, while the attacker rolls the attack to pierce it.
    • This is not a normal attack, and normal rules that apply to attacks do not apply to this.
  • To determine the defenses of the defender, take the normal saving throw and add 12.
  • To determine the attack modifier of the attacker, take the normal DC, subtract 10. Roll 1d20 to discover if you pierce the defense (must meet or beat the defense).


Design Notes Edit

Add design notes.


Balanced Skills Edit

  • Use the variant as written here.


Design Notes Edit

One of the many problems with the skill system is how easily characters vary on the RNG; by third level, there are characters for whom taking 10 easily passes a problem when others couldn't even pass a skill check if they got a 20. On top of that, characters don't actually really get better at anything unless they sink skill points into it. A wizard learns nothing after fifteen levels of watching the rogue sneak around on how to hide himself from view, and the fighter learns nothing after watching the ranger tie a rope countless numbers of times. This variant fixes both of these problems.


Combining Skills Edit

  • Hide and Move Silently are combined into Stealth.
  • Listen, Search, and Spot are combined into Perception.
  • Disable Device and Open Lock are combined into Disable Device.
  • Climb, Jump and Swim are combined into Athletics.
  • Balance and Tumble are combined into Acrobatics.
  • Forgery and Decipher Script are combined into Linguistics.
  • Disguise and Gather Information are combined into Intrigue.
  • Use Rope and Survival are combined into Survival.


Design Notes Edit

There are many skills that seem to be redundant or closely connected one-another; this variant groups them together, allowing characters not to have to waste skills on taking abilities that are obviously connected to each other.


Removing Cross-Class Skills Edit

  • All skills require one skill point to raise by one rank.
  • If a skill is a class skill for any class you possess, it gains a +3 class bonus.
  • The limit of ranks that can be placed in any skill, including skills that are cross-class skills, is equal to one's HD.
  • Any prerequisites that require a certain number of ranks in skills for feats and prestige are reduced by three.
  • Characters don't get the traditional x4 skill points at first level.


Design Notes Edit

Cross-class skills often cost so much to invest in that few do so. This gives a little more versatility to specific characters as far as skills go, while still giving a small reward to characters who invest in traditional skills.


Intelligence Bonus to Skills Edit

  • Change to one's Intelligence does not effect the number of skill points one gains at every level; this bonus is set at first level.
  • For example, if a character has 18 base Intelligence and later brings it up to 22 from level boosts and a headband of intelligence, they would still only add +4 from their Intelligence modifier to the number of skill points they'd receive at every level.


Design Notes Edit

This change is purely optional, but came into being once the amount by which the Intelligence bonus of characters can increase over 20 levels is taken into account. Since some characters can gain +5 to their intelligence modifier just from ability score increase, allowing it to change the number of skill points gotten (especially retroactively) can allow some characters to have many more skills trained than other characters would, especially if Intelligence was tied to their primary abilities.



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