Author's Note Edit

OK, so I don't think I've ever been less sure about a class I posted (actually, I'm going to take that back; both the Puppet Master and the Mystic Theurge were worse, but they're not posted here), so seriously, please give honest feedback and help me make this shape up a bit better. Thanks!

Mostly, I'd love feedback on the Dancing mechanic. I like the way it blends maneuvers and the dance, but I worry that it's too awkward. Also, there's been a lot of suggestion at GitP that she needs a non-limited recovery method, since currently it relies on her daily uses of Bardic Dance.

Anyway, PEACH.
DragoonWraith 10:30, December 14, 2009 (UTC)

I'm a bit unclear on the dancing / maneuvers thing, so tell me if I have it right.
  • You begin an encounter with your readied maneuvers readied.
  • You use them, or you don't, and then decide to dance for a while.
  • You have other maneuvers tied to your dance than the ones you readied at the beginning of the day. You get to use these, for free, at the appropriate linked time in the dance. If you don't use them, you lose the opportunity to use them for free unless you begin the dance again and reach the appropriate time. You can otherwise do whatever you want during a dance.
  • At the end of the dance you recover the maneuvers that you had readied at the beginning of the encounter.
That about right? If it is, I like the dancing mechanic. It requires a bit of writing, but it does provide a unique mechanic for them to use non-readied maneuvers and adds a very specific tactical mechanism to the class that no one else has. So in that respect I think it's a solid plan.
It's bad as a recharge mechanic in this setup for a few reasons though. The big one is that it is daily limited, as has been pointed out, but that limitation also makes it somewhat wasteful. If you want a strike that you didn't ready but assigned to a dance and you haven't used your readied maneuvers yet, you need to choose between not using the strike you want so that you better extend your abilities or using the strike that you want and not using your recovery to its fullest. I think the choice between suck now (don't use the dance and strike you want) or suck later (run out of maneuvers earlier) is a poor choice for ToB classes (though plenty of others are balanced around it and work generally ok).
So I'd suggest either changing the recovery mechanic to something they can use whenever or changing the dancing mechanic to support some sort of at-will use. I think the latter is the more interesting option, and if you were inclined to adopt it you should probably disallow the use of stances while dancing unless they're the paired option for the round. That way you can just treat the dance as a timed stance with specific maneuver options at certain points and balance them appropriately (since you would assume the class to be in one stance or another all of the time anyway). It also allows you to better mimic the bardic music combat duration of "for as long as you sustain +x rounds" thing, if that matters to you. And at the end, assuming they reach the end, they get back their regularly readied maneuvers. Since they can dance whenever it doesn't matter if they do it before they're empty, and they get a similar combat extension as all of the other ToB classes. I wonder if they should have access to other, non-dance tied maneuvers while dancing in this setup (maybe counters), because I don't know how much you'd want to limit them while they're in a fixed but free options / recharge phase.
Hope that rambling makes sense and offers something to think about. - TarkisFlux 00:08, December 29, 2009 (UTC)
One - yes, you've got how it works right. Any suggestions on clarifying?
Two - I'm not sure that you necessarily have to use all of your readied maneuvers before dancing - in fact much of the time I don't think you would. You get very few readied maneuvers, and you also don't get enough maneuvers for a dance to fill the dance with maneuvers. This gets especially notable with higher level dances that last a long time. Basically, you would start the dance, and use its maneuvers when they come up - and use the other maneuvers on the rounds in which the dance doesn't have any associated maneuvers. By the time you finish the dance, you'll have used those maneuvers, even if you had all of them when you began. In fact, most likely you'll still not be able to use a maneuver every round, at least for the higher level dances. I expect Dancers would use Distracting Dance or Heartflame Dance very often, even at high levels, because they're short and you can actually fill them with what you want.
Three - all that said, what you have said about the at-will use of dancing is very intriguing, and I like your ideas. I'll have to think about that. I'm currently playing a duel to test the Dancer, so I'll also have that information to work with.
Four - currently, you don't get to maintain your stance while dancing, until level 9 when you get the Martial Art feature. This seems reasonable enough to me - I know my duelist (level 5) is very worried about losing her Child of Shadow stance (and its associated concealment as well as triggering of her Shadow Blade feat), but I think by level 9 it's a reasonable power, and I'm not sure changing the dancing mechanic to at-will will necessarily change that.
Five - thank you for the input! Very, very appreciated.
DragoonWraith 00:27, December 29, 2009 (UTC)
Regarding 1, I'll think it over and get back to you.
Regarding 2, in a limited recharge setup, not using all of your maneuvers before you dance just means that you get fewer uses of your maneuvers that day. Which would lead me to try to use all relevant maneuvers before beginning a dance, and maybe even delaying a dance if I thought there would be an opening for a maneuver later on. It's just a very different management game than most of ToB is built on, and problematic for the power scale that the maneuvers are built on for that reason.
The long dance is an interesting issue though, since if you can use your regular maneuvers and your special maneuvers, you can still get at least one off a round (and don't really pay for your recharge) and still be full up at the end. And if you can't use your regular maneuvers during a long dance, then you're a bit hosed during it and probably paying too high a cost (unless the dance is awesome). Admittedly I got a bit hung up on the dance recharge mechanics and haven't looked too closely at the dances themselves yet (which may not even matter if you decide to tweak them a bit to go at-will) so I don't know if there are any awesome ones in there that would make up for not being able to use non-attached maneuvers while it was going. Further, I actually prefer the restriction that you can't use your regular stuff in your recharge dance for largely aesthetic reasons (which you may not share), so I'm just going to dive off of that plan. Which means that the long dances probably need to be shortened. In a limited system this would suck, but in an at-will setup length isn't particularly important since you can just start them again at the end if you want them to go longer. That gives you some time with the maneuvers you have readied, and some time in a dance with the maneuvers attached to it, and an interesting choice to make about when to do which. Since I like classes with that choice, like with your dance or stance dilemma, I think that's the way to go, but I understand if you don't share that view and want your work to go in a different direction.
Regarding 4, looks like I missed that. Sorry about that :-/. If you wouldn't be concerned about any other ToB class running 2 stances at once in exchange for a strongly limited maneuver selection, I don't think I'd be concerned about it here (which is approximately the same thing). I don't think I'd let it ride with the ability to fill in your dance with your regular maneuvers though.
Lastly, regarding 5, no worries. I'm glad some of it has been helpful. - TarkisFlux 01:29, December 29, 2009 (UTC)

Alternate WordingEdit

I'm going to assume that you're going to turn the dances into an at-will thing and that you're going to disallow any non-associated maneuvers while you're dancing. Associated maneuvers will be renamed Flourishes to assist with clarity. The at-will thing is for the previously discussed reasons, and the flourish only limitation is to keep people from dancing all of the time. That last bit is because there's not really any reason to ever stop doing it in an at-will setup that gives you extra maneuver options and Cha to AC and bonus effects and recharges your regular maneuvers every few rounds, expecially after level 9 when you don't even lose a stance to do it. Even if you don't go at-will, at high levels 10+ simes per day pretty much means they'll be dancing through every combat to get all of the benefits it offers since there isn't a meaningful usage cap on them at that point and there's no drawback for doing it, so I think you should limit their options in some form anyway (or lengthen the dances)

That said, take it or leave it of course :-) (Note: You have starting a dance as a move action and as a swift action in your writeup. I'm just going with swift action here since I don't know which you intended. Clarification would probably change things in here, but it was already mostly written when I noticed it.)

Bardic Dance: A Dancer may begin any of the Dances that she knows as a Swift action. Dances provide benefits similar to Bardic Music, they either strengthen the Dancer and her allies or weaken her foes,. These dances are dependent upon sight to work, so a Dancer must be seen by each of those affected. These effects and duration of the individual Dances are explained when they are acquired.

During a Dance the Dancer may not use any Martial Strikes, Boosts, or Stances that have not been associated with the Dance as flourishes (see below). They may still use any prepared Counters as normal. If the Dancer was in a Martial Stance when they began dancing they immediately lose its benefit; she may return to the stance as a Free action once the Dance is complete. A Dancer may cease Dancing as a free action, and may use any available maneuver as soon as they do so.

When a Dance is finished, her normally prepared Maneuvers are recovered and she may use them again. If a dance was not finished, no maneuvers are recovered; the dancer must complete a dance to regain any used maneuvers while still in combat.

Every Dance that a Dancer may learn requires a certain number of ranks in Perform (Dance). If the Dancer does not have enough ranks by the time she gains the appropriate level in the Dancer class, she does not learn that Dance until she does.

A Dancer has difficulty Dancing in Armor or while carrying heavy weights, and wearing even Light Armor halves the duration of her Dance as well as the number of Maneuvers she may associate with it. If wearing Medium or Heavy Armor, or while carrying a Medium or Heavy Load, the Dancer may not use any of her Dances.

A Dancer may also know how to sing or play an instrument (especially, say, one who uses the Lost Lyrics Discipline), but these performances do not typically carry the magic that either her Dances or a Bard's Music would. Bardic Dance may count as Bardic Music in some situations, though this is left to the DM's discretion. Typically, if uses of Bardic Music are being used to power some other feature, Dance should usually work just as well. Similarly, if the benefit given to Bardic Music is not specificly sound-based, then Dance should not work.

Flourish: When a Dancer readies her Martial Maneuvers, she may also associate a number of Maneuvers with each Dance. These associated maneuvers are called flourishes. The number of flourishes that may be performed within a Dance is listed in the table, in parentheses, in the Maneuvers Readied column. Each of these flourishes is a specific Martial Strike, Boost, or Stance that is associated with a specifc round of the dance, and no more than one flourish may be tied to a particular round. Any martial technigue may be used any number of times within the same dance or accross multiple dances, subject to the flourish limit, but each dance may have only one set of flourishes at any time.

When a Dancer uses a Dance, they gain access to the flourishes they prepared for it on the expected round. For example, a 1st level Dancer knows the Distracting Dance, which lasts 3 rounds, and can ready two Maneuvers, so she may select what Maneuvers she'll be using on which rounds. She might, for example, choose to prepare Lightning Speed for the second round of Distracting Dance, and then select Crawling Ivy Strike to be used on the third turn. When she begins to use the Distracting Dance, her swift action is spent beginning it, while her full action may be used normally. Note that she has no flourishes on this round and can not use any of her regular maneuvers while dancing, so she can not use any martial technigue (except counters) on this round of the dance. On the second round, she may use Lightning Speed for her Swift action because it is the flourish associated with this round of the dance, but she is not required to use it. It is the only martial maneuver available to her this turn however. On the third round, her Standard Action may be used for Crawling Ivy Strike, though she may again choose to forgo the opportunity to use that maneuver.

Martial Lore Edit

How should Martial Lore (and other non-OGL skills) be handled in the Class Skills list? Currently it's just a dead link, which seems poor...
DragoonWraith 00:36, December 16, 2009 (UTC)

Ugh, I'll fix that. Surgo 14:16, December 16, 2009 (UTC)

Artful Dodge Edit

Is this in any armor, or only when unarmored/in light armor? Also, does this stack with the Battle Dancer's cha-to-AC? (Might wanna mention if it doesn't.) --Ghostwheel 06:17, January 16, 2010 (UTC)

Good point. Since you can't use a Dance while wearing more than Light armor (and even in Light armor it's hard), I figured that handled it, but then when I later let it work with stances too... yeah. I'll mention that - only when unarmored.
DragoonWraith 16:03, January 16, 2010 (UTC)

Stacking and Other Concerns Edit

Noticed Heartflame Dance, and wondered if you saw its potential breakability; I understand that you added it in order to alleviate the problems that might crop up from the dancer's medium BAB, but it can easily escalate into RNG-ignoring territory. Here's what's I mean; take that, and add on something like Spiritual Weapon, and poof, you're adding the Dancer's charisma twice to attack and damage. Or, if you prefer an example that's not homebrew, Snowflake Wardance from Frostburn, a feat that the dancer easily qualifies for. Take both together for a +36 bonus to attack and damage at level 20 where other characters would be adding only +12 to both with a one-handed weapon from their prime attacking ability score. And the dancer without homebrew would be adding that extra +12 to the usual ability score that they use for attack rolls. I'd suggest perhaps simply giving the dancer full BAB, if you're worried about the attack roll. Another, potentially better solution might be capping the bonus at +5, which allows them to at full BAB without having to worry about the ability breaking the RNG all by itself.
Next is a part that needs buffing in my mind--have you thought about making the Wiznaibus ability based on IL, rather than BAB? That way, you wouldn't penalize the dancer who stays single-classed.
Then there's Charming Dance--charming a creature every round as a free action, basically at-will feels a bit off for the rogue-level, though YMMV.
Finally, there's the skill tax that the dancer must pay--each and every dancer is going to have to put max ranks into Perform (Dance), effectively reducing their bonus to skills from high intelligence by one. Perhaps you might simply give the dancer the ability to treat their ranks in Perform (Dance) equal to their class level + 3? I think that would be an elegant solution that allows them to use their skill points for different things without necessarily forcing them to pay the skill tax. What do you think? EDIT: Closed the loophole as far as the homebrew feat is concerned, but for things like Snowflake Wardance abuse is still possible... --Ghostwheel 13:08, January 18, 2010 (UTC)

I'll consider it, certainly, but there are lots of ways of adding X ability modifier to attack and/or damage rolls. I'm not sure that one more is the end of the world. But I'll look at the exact text of Snowflake Wardance to see what's going on. Full BAB simply doesn't seem fitting for the class, really, but I'll consider that too.
Based on IL is a good idea, I'll do that.
Charming Dance is rather high level. It's significant, but it also seems fitting. I think the answer might be to reduce the duration and/or make it require a Swift action to use the Charm ability.
Finally, that skill tax existed for the Bard, too. Nothing new there. I like keeping it simply for the parallelism, personally.
DragoonWraith 17:56, January 19, 2010 (UTC)
Whoa, huge delay. Anyway, some more responses: Snowflake Wardance, I'm just not that concerned. There are other ways that could be done, even without this class. Slippers of Battledancing, Whirling Blade, Bow of Song, etc - there are a number of ways to get Cha to Attack, and they generally stack. Adding one more is really not the end of the world.
Skill tax, still not bothered by.
Charming Dance, yeah, I'm going to keep that. You get it so late that I'm not worried about it.
DragoonWraith 05:38, April 10, 2010 (UTC)
All the above examples are rather bad ones, unfortunately; Slippers of Battledancing requires you to move 10', which can ruin full attacks, and rather than adding one's Cha mod on top of everything else, it replaces strength. Whirling Blade is a spell, one that requires an action and doesn't help much with maneuvers and the like. And the Bow of Song requires one to use a move action AND spend a bardic song attempt to get the bonus to the *next* (one) attack. So... nah, there aren't that many ways to get Cha to Attack that stack constantly without sacrificing something. --Ghostwheel 06:07, April 10, 2010 (UTC)
But there are plenty of ways to get Wis to attack, a thousand different ways to get Int to attack (really, it's kind of silly), more than one way to get Str to attack multiple times... I dunno. Your point only seems to confirm that Cha is, as usual, the weakest ability score in combat. And it's not like Heartflame Dance doesn't have its own requirements. I see what you're saying, but I'm not convinced...
DragoonWraith 01:33, April 11, 2010 (UTC)
Then I guess there's not much else to say but this:
Those who would sacrifice mathematical stability for customization deserve neither.
—Frank Trollman
Yay, breaking the RNG. --Ghostwheel 03:28, April 11, 2010 (UTC)
Don't necessarily agree with the quote overall, but that's not really the case here. I simply don't agree that this breaks the RNG more than extant options.
I mean, what do you think of a Factotum/Swashbuckler?
DragoonWraith 04:37, April 11, 2010 (UTC)
Another two poor examples; the first one, without The One Feat, can do it very, very few times per combat. The second one adds it only to damage, not affecting the RNG in any way. --Ghostwheel 04:39, April 11, 2010 (UTC)
Sigh. The mere fact that I can't come up with comparable things is a very strong point in your favor. OK, I'll do something about that. Hmm, hmm.
DragoonWraith 05:57, April 11, 2010 (UTC)

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