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Talk:Chthonic Serpent (3.5e Martial Discipline)

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Author's Note Edit

First, big thanks to The Demented One and Krimm Blackleaf for their excellent homebrewed disciplines; they inspired this. Also, many thanks to The Demented One for the "replace a discipline you have or go find training" mechanic for gaining access to the discipline - that's brilliant, and I've nicked that here. "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"? Certainly intended to be, here.

Anyway - I'm pretty newb with Tome of Battle and sort of newish with melee in general. Plus, ya know, Grapple rules. So this definitely needs serious review, and I'd really appreciate it if I could get any. --DragoonWraith 18:08, December 13, 2009 (UTC)

Haven't actually taken that close of a look at this yet, but from what I can see it's pretty darn epic. Finally a reason to use a whip!--ThirdEmperor 18:20, December 13, 2009 (UTC)
Thanks! Though, ultimately... you probably still don't want a whip. Crack of the Whip negates most of the stupid penalties, but that means not using any other stance, ever, which is a bit rough. Use any other associated weapon, most of which are better even despite that, and you avoid that requirement.
Maybe a feat is in order to allow you to just keep Crack of the Whip all the time... hmm.
DragoonWraith 22:39, December 13, 2009 (UTC)
There's also the whip-dagger from various books, which is a whip minus the stupid. Surgo 23:41, December 13, 2009 (UTC)
True, but I'd treat that as effectively a Whip for just about everything, since it shares a proficiency and focus and such. Unfortunately, AFAIK it's only been published in 3.0 material or in Dragon Magazine, both of which may have difficulty getting into games.
DragoonWraith 01:56, December 14, 2009 (UTC)

Editing Edit

Thanks for uploading this. I'm going to edit the way this is displayed, to make it similar to spells. Surgo 18:53, December 13, 2009 (UTC)

Cool, sounds good. Also, I've answered your PM on GitP.
DragoonWraith 22:39, December 13, 2009 (UTC)
Actually, when I said this, I was wrong - I hadn't. I thought I had, but in fact it was one of many tabs sitting open, just waiting for me to hit Send, and I didn't notice it. I've sent it now.
DragoonWraith 01:57, December 14, 2009 (UTC)

hmmm Edit

i'm not really a fan of 9 swords, and my gaming groups have all banned that book except for a few feats from it, deeming it out of the power level of our gaming styles. that said I really like this style. IT uses a 3 of my absolute favorite weapons (flind bar, kasuri-gama, whip). i wanna make a swordsage using this now, possibly using a tentaccle whip from ebberon. the only thing i'm not a fan of personally is the name, but thats always changable fluff. this class lets you do all the cool tie-you-up stuff seen in movies and such, and i really like that.

Are there any plans for more 9th level maneuvers? maybe another 1 or 2 could be awesome.--NameViolation 22:56, December 13, 2009 (UTC)

Do you ban Artificers, Beguilers, Binders, Clerics, Dragonfire Adepts, Dread Necromancers, Duskblades, Factotums, Favored Souls, Erudites, Psions, Sorcerers, Wilders, and Wizards, too? Those are all at least as powerful as the martial adepts; most of them are much more powerful (especially Cleric, Druid, and Wizard). Or is simply that melee cannot have nice things? I'm sorry, but people who ban ToB kind of peeve me, because it's probably the best balanced book in 3.5. It's also the only one to do anything significant about the massive gap between melee and casters, for which it is amazing. If you have actual play experience with ToB, then I guess I can't really argue with you, but if this decision is based on your perceptions of its balance, I strongly suggest that you try it. The only real "issue" with ToB, from a balance perspective, is that it is "self-optimizing" - you can choose just whatever sounds cool at the time for your maneuvers, and you'll be quite competent. Try doing that with Fighter feats, and you'll quickly find yourself useless. Same with Sorcerer spells, though less so because its magic and magic is always better (especially from the Sor/Wiz list). In a very underoptimized game, ToB might be overpowered - but this, I think, is the fault of the rest of 3.5 for putting so much emphasis on "rules mastery" - always a dumb concept. At any rate, even in such a game, the casters are very likely to leave the melee feeling useless in higher levels, if you're not careful. ToB fixes that.
Anyway, all of the Disciplines in ToB have exactly one 9th level maneuver. This is intentional, for balance reasons. In fact, this Discipline has about as many maneuvers total as any Discipline that isn't Swordsage-only should - if I add any new maneuvers, I'll be removing some of these. Finally... why don't you like the name? I really like it, personally.
DragoonWraith 01:54, December 14, 2009 (UTC)
i was just tryin to give a little praise, not defend my grops gaming decisions. to each their own. we also try and limit caster to spells from th PH and 1 book (not spell compendium) of their choosing. we run games at what people apparantly believe is "fighter" or low "rogue" level so things are actually challenging. alot of games end up with no casters to maintain a challenge. Its by player choice that we ban powerful classes and yes we do ban Artificers (most of the time), Binders, Dragonfire Adepts (no one wants to play one), Factotums, and Erudites, and a bunch of other stuff. also the name just doesn't flow off the tongue IMHO. Chthonic sounds like I'm praying to Cthulhu. but to each his own. no need to get defensive and jump down my throat.
also one of my groups plays gestalt, and book of 9 was deemed a game break at that point. its too good with gestalting, and since thats the groups playstyle, so be it. I'm not here to defend my playstyle, or bash other peoples. its my fuckin opinion and I'm entitled to it. --NameViolation 02:52, December 14, 2009 (UTC)
You word your praise oddly, then. My apologies for getting defensive, but your praise seemed rather back-handed to me. Whatever, my misunderstanding. Sorry. "I like this but" followed by bash bash bash doesn't really strike me as praise.
DragoonWraith 03:27, December 14, 2009 (UTC)
yeah, i totally dig this. its similar t osetting sun, but more awesome. also i love the weapons, like i said. so dispite the fact i'm never gonna get to play this, i might use it for some great npc's (or a fun pc if i find a new gaming group). I would totally make a swordsage "ninja" with this. --NameViolation 03:59, December 14, 2009 (UTC)
OK, that wasn't clear to me before. Though, rereading, I suppose it should have been. Sorry. Anyway, if your group really does avoid casters and sticks with the truly mundane melee (Fighter, Barbarian, Rogue, etc), that can work for balance - not a popular balance point for a variety of reasons, but a workable one. It's just that most people who single out ToB as overpowered don't actually do that. As a commentary - "limiting" a Wizard or Sorcerer to the Player's Handbook is not a terribly effective way to balance them, unless you nerf/ban quite a few spells from it. Most of the most easily abused spells in the game were printed in the Player's Handbook (the Alter Self/Polymorph/Shapechange line, Planar Binding/Gate, Solid Fog et al., Enervation, Time Stop, Mind Blank, Contingency, etc etc) - the only non-PH spells of similar power that I can think of off the top of my head are Shivering Touch (SpC, IIRC) and Celerity (PHB2). Just a thought if you find that playing casters tends to be "EZ mode" - you might consider banning the PHB entirely, and using splatbook casters and spells. Most of them are quite a bit weaker. Though even the weakest (War Mage) probably is still about as good as the ToB crowd... Well, barring the Healer.
Anyway, as a player, I dunno, it sort of saddens me to hear about a game where you are so limited in character build options. I realize playstyles vary greatly and for many this is unimportant or even a hassle, but I'm not ashamed to say I'm an optimizer, and mostly that I just crave options. ToB has some great options.
DragoonWraith 07:24, December 14, 2009 (UTC)
also we give you 30 seconds to take your turn. you take too long you skip your turn. it spawned from everyone takin too damn long to play casters and lookin up spells. we got an interesting play style. we used to allow everything, but it got to a point where the DM had to take too much stuff into account when designing encounters (and we don't have a very adaptable DM most of the time). also hurling spells is cool, but no as satisfying as stabbing something in the face :P it works for us. ourgroup is happy with it, besides dnd is more about the hangin out and bs-ing with eachother than actually gettin stuff done. we'll play for 8 hours but only accomplish 2 hours worth of stuff. kinda sucks, but its more about the social aspect. and all of our campaigns have ended by level 13. i can't explain how "different" we tend to play than alot of groups. WE've had 1st level characters beat CR 20's (bard critted on a perform check to fascinate the balor that was robbing a bank who fumbled his will save, RAW no xp, but we got a reward anyway)--NameViolation 10:02, December 14, 2009 (UTC)
(coming back over) The time limit is interesting, certainly. Still, I'm not sure why anyone would be looking through books for spells mid-battle - in the middle of a battle, the number of spells you might cast is limited by either your Spells Known (which you ought to know) or Spells Prepared (which you also ought to know). I haven't DMed, so I can't comment on how difficult or not it is to prepare for different systems, but it sort of surprises me that it's that big an issue. *shrug* Well, whatever works for you guys. Clearly, I just wouldn't fit in - I don't find stabbing something in the face particularly satisfying in D&D (at least, without ToB, because too often it becomes "I full-attack it" again and again until things are dead).
Continuing my random suggestions, though: You might also try E6, it may work very well for your group. Basically, you stop "leveling" after 6, but continue to gain XP for bonus feats (or something like that). Apparently it does a very good job keeping D&D in that sweet spot where it's actually almost-kinda balanced, and also prevents characters from becoming so powerful that nothing short of world-destroying terrors threaten them anymore. Sounds like it would work well for you, perhaps?
DragoonWraith 10:45, December 14, 2009 (UTC)
Actually, "Cthulhu" sounds like "Chthonic", therefore Chthonic > Cthulhu since one is a real word. --TK-Squared 10:47, January 11, 2010 (UTC)

Review Edit

Looks good for the most part, though I've got a nit-pick or two; Binding Constrictor (and its follow-ups), especially when combined with Careful Chains, can easily stop foes from having any chance of resisting your grapple checks, which can spell uselessness for many meleers; in effect, just those can take you off the RNG when the DM is throwing enemies at you who have comparable stats. Also, the Death's Embrace maneuver feels off--I can't think of any other maneuver that is such a permanent save-or-die, and in general I'm a proponent of DMs being able to use the same things as PCs. But what happens if an enemy uses Death's Embrace and the character fails their check? Just feels off to me. Apart from those concerns, it looks like a solid trip/grapple/disarm-based discipline that, with a few changes, would be welcome in any game I ran. --Ghostwheel 05:59, January 11, 2010 (UTC)

Good call on Death's Embrace; I added how you would fix the status (basically, Restoration or greater healing magic). That was intended from the beginning, but apparently got lost somewhere along the way.
On Binding Constrictor etc., the idea was to give a humanoid a chance at grappling the big beasties. Yes, against other humanoids, it's going to be too much. Do you have any suggestion for handling this? Because frankly, that seems like a problem with the way WotC set up grappling (and the monstrous/racial grappling bonuses), rather than with this discipline. I mean, a colossal monstrous spider has a grapple check of +51, at CR 11. How else would you compete with that?
DragoonWraith 16:26, January 11, 2010 (UTC)
Those grapple bonuses are pretty amazing, and they pretty much dominate medium foes when used against them. So if those creatures are the ones you want a comparable bonus against, I don't think you even can fix it for medium sized grapplers. But you could make the bonuses only apply on checks opposed by an actual grapple check, and not on a check opposed by Escape Artist. Since most monsters don't have that skill, you probably retain most of the functionality you want from the line while also making it substantially easier for a portion of the medium sized world to get out. You still rock anyone without the skill though.
Alternately (or even in addition to that maybe) language that the grapple is instantly broken if anyone sunders your weapon (or makes a successful attempt that fails to destroy the weapon if that's too restrictive) would add in an escape clause that even a grappled opponent could use against you. Plus, the destroyed version already technically exists, so it's not even a real change. You still slow them down a lot, and force them to use their actions against your weapon instead of you (which may not be a good idea since it could leave you really hosed).
Or you could just accept that they will ruin people in grapples, and restrict them in some other fashion to make up for it. Pulling the ability to attack with the other hand might work, as that's just icing on the insult cake, or otherwise limiting them while they keep it up (like no other maneuvers or something).
All that said, I don't actually share Ghost's concerns on these. It's still fairly substantially foiled by miss chances, mirror images, d-door, etc., so there are plenty of later level counters to it. And it's not an insurmountable bonus gap at the lower levels when those counters aren't generally available. Aside from the stance bonus, you can even keep up with Escape Artist ranks and a skill item. It's a good temporary lockdown ability and it's in a different bonus range at higher levels than any other PC grappler so it's going to be very hard to resist, but it's single target and doesn't even deny the target all of their actions. It will ruin the unprepared and compete against most monsters, but it's just a temporary set back for a well planned adventurer. - TarkisFlux 17:09, January 11, 2010 (UTC)
That might be true in wizard-level games where every other monster has the potential of busting out Black Tentacles, Mirror Image, Teleport, etc, but I don't think that's the case as often with rogue-level games, where ToB sits. That said, the problem is as much with the monster size boosts-to-grapple differences as with any numerical bonuses one gets. To counteract that, I made this feat, and in my games reduce the bonus/penalty to grapple checks to the inverse of what the character gets to AC (so a small character would get -1 to grapple checks, and a large one +1 to grapple checks). Also, for the blindness, I'd make it temporary (perhaps lasting 1d3 rounds?) so that even parties without a cleric might be able to recover from it and not be crippled for the whole combat due to how incredibly debilitating blindness is. --Ghostwheel 20:00, January 11, 2010 (UTC)
The problem with temporary blindness is that it becomes difficult to fluff as a mundane attack. This discipline is available to Warblades, so I don't want any obviously supernatural abilities in there. Also, 1d3 rounds seems kind of low for a 6th level maneuver; by level 11, Glitterdust lasts over a minute. Though I tend to agree that Cleric-less parties are in for some serious trouble here, and that should perhaps be mitigated somehow. Just not sure how.
As for what you're saying, I agree that it's primarily the fault of how the grapple bonuses are set up. That doesn't make it an easy thing to fix; it's hard to assume other homebrew with mine. I'll try to think something out, though.
DragoonWraith 20:06, January 11, 2010 (UTC)
I think, as TarkisFlux said, it is perfectly fine as-is. You are a grapple specialist, so you should be winning grapples. There's nothing wrong with the blindness either -- combat time doesn't care whether it's 10 rounds or permanent, and fluff-wise permanent is superior. Surgo 20:18, January 11, 2010 (UTC)
I didn't make reference to any other grappling abilities Ghost, just counters or defenses against it (and I didn't even bring up Travel Domain / Freedom of Movement, Blink, or a host of others, I was trying not be cheesy about it). Against high level monsters you need these sorts of bonuses to grapple them reasonably anyway, so it's not an issue against them most of the time. Against characters or leveled NPC villains it is a substantially stronger ability, but at low levels it's not an insurmountable difference and at higher levels the opposition should have items and whatnot to compensate. Coupled with an explicit mention that you can sunder the weapon (because you still get actions), and that breaking it immediately ends the hold seems to put the ability, even stacked with the stance, on par with a Hold Person spell that doesn't eliminate all of your actions and also requires concentration from the initiator. All the upgrades do is add reasonable damage to it. I'm with you on the other ability being weird, I just can't get all worked up about this one though. - TarkisFlux 21:07, January 11, 2010 (UTC)
I guess it all depends on what balance level you're going for, as far as blindness goes. Are you attempting to balance it so that it's comparable to the maneuvers in ToB, or to wizard-level stuff like Glitterdust? Blindness is one of the worst conditions to be under; even being under it for 1d3 rounds hurts a lot, given that normal D&D, even at the rogue level, lasts 3-5 rounds much of the time. So if you're shooting for the wizard-level, then perma-blind is decent. If not, then it's too powerful as-is. --Ghostwheel 23:48, January 11, 2010 (UTC)
Well, I decided to look at the other 6th level maneuvers, and I'm tending to agree; there's not much in the way of status effects at that level, but none as serious as blindness, much less permanently. I'll rethink that one.
DragoonWraith 00:13, January 12, 2010 (UTC)
It's not even comparable. Wizards blind a whole group of people at level 3. This is a level 11 maneuver that as far as I can tell blinds one person. There is really no need to rethink it. Surgo 00:15, January 12, 2010 (UTC)
Swift action boost Surgo. Potentially blinds all dudes hit with your standard attacks, your off hand attacks, your attacks of opportunity, your haste bonus attacks, your cheese bonus attacks, etc. And if you really feel like making a dude suffer you can just hit him over and over and over until iterative probability screws him. It's not anything I'd care about in a wizard level game because of its level, but it's on the rogue / wizard cusp as is and a bit higher than most of ToB. If it were as you'd described it it'd be fine, or if the effect was temporary and you couldn't multi-target people with it, but it is a bit off for a rogue / ToB level game. - TarkisFlux 00:44, January 12, 2010 (UTC)
Alternate fluff idea in support of temporary blindness: you gash open their foreheads in an attempt to either mush their brains or just get blood in their eyes. The latter probably works because foreheads bleed really badly, so they bleed substantially and lose vision (treat as blind) for 1d3 rounds while they get it under control. - TarkisFlux 00:48, January 12, 2010 (UTC)
In that case...yeah, I agree. Surgo 00:52, January 12, 2010 (UTC)
I made that a Boost? What was I thinking? Ooookaay then, yeah, that needs changing. I guess I was thinking too much about Glitterdust.
DragoonWraith 02:13, January 12, 2010 (UTC)

Constriction Damage Edit

Hey sorry about the format of this, but I had a question about the maneuver Binding Constrictor (and it's upgrades). The constriction bonus damage is a one time bonus on the strike right? or it ongoing with the grapple? Then it also say that you could attack with the weapon grappling the enemy. Is this considered constriction damage or just an attack made from the weapon? Sorry if I missed what's meant to happen, but basically I'm just asking could you elaborate a little on those strikes? Thanks! --Lordsidro

You probably should have given it it's own heading (which I've done), and you should sign your post with ~~~~, that'll insert your Username as a link plus the date (also, typically goes at the end of a post). Other than that, you're fine.
Anyway... I imagined it as once per round, but I'm not really sure...
DragoonWraith 16:06, March 6, 2010 (UTC)

Naming Query Edit

Hey so nice job with this but I had a question on the name. Chthon is a Greek word meaning 'earth' or 'earthly', usually under it and thus with connotations of the underworld, it's adjectival form Chthonic often referencing underworld spirits or deities. So I just wanted to know if you knew this when you named it and if you did how does the school emulate earth. Please ignore how negative that sounds, I can't think how to word the question without it sounding like that; it is entirely possible I'm missing something. It has just occurred to me though, that Chthonic Serpent could be in reference to Midgard Serpent, who could be considered subterranean and who the ninth level manoeuvre is named after. Kanderas 08:43, June 5, 2010 (UTC)

I was aware. Originally, it named like "Death Serpent" and such, but I didn't like that. I went more for the underworld - note the references to reaping (a la the Grim), and crushing and constricting to me reminds me of being entombed. Also, Jormungandr is the name of the Midgard Serpent, so that's where the 9th level maneuver gets its name from.
DragoonWraith 15:01, June 5, 2010 (UTC)

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