Author Topic: Commander [Base]  (Read 491 times)

Stratovarius

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Commander [Base]
« on: June 23, 2017, 06:22:18 AM »
Commander

"Follow me, and I shall lead you to glory!"
- Excasard the Brilliant, Human Commander


Sometimes it is not enough to be a conquering warrior, a champion of all that’s right, an experienced sellsword, or an elite foot soldier. Sometimes the circumstances require a solid commander of soldiers and situations. Sometimes the circumstances demand a Commander. Commanders inspire trust in those they lead. They earn that trust by slogging through harsh landscapes, dangerous battlefields, and haunted catacombs along with those under their command. With a look, they can see where to best deploy their resources or come up with a sneaky ruse to fool their enemies. A Commander has a tactician’s mind, a cartographer’s overview of the disputed landscape (or dungeon warren), and a way with words that can inspire battle-hardened fighters to give it their all when melee breaks out.

Making a Commander
Commanders come to their profession through study and desire. Most have had formal training in a noble’s army, where they were given positions of authority. Others have trained in formal academies, preparing themselves for careers as a military officers. Commanders see others of their class as part of a special group, especially those they have studied with. Even enemy Commanders can be afforded some respect, though the enemy’s forces must be crushed all the same.

Abilities: Charisma.

Races: Commander appear amongst all races, for their talents are widespread.

Alignment: Commander can be of any alignment, and there is no bias in any one direction.

Table 1: The Commander

Level  BAB   Ref   Fort  Will  Abilities                             Cohorts
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
1      +0    +0    +2    +2    Cohorts, Commander Aura               1
2      +1    +1    +3    +3    Warden, Aid Them All                  1
3      +2    +1    +3    +3    Ability Boon                          1
4      +3    +2    +4    +4    Grant Move Action, Commander's Boon   1
5      +3    +2    +4    +4    Seal the Breach                       1
6      +4    +3    +5    +5    Ability Boon                          2
7      +5    +3    +5    +5    Rapid Refocus, Commander's Boon       2
8      +6    +2    +6    +6    Grant Move Action                     2
9      +6    +3    +6    +6    Ability Boon                          2
10     +7    +3    +7    +7    Commander Aura, Commander's Boon      2
11     +8    +3    +7    +7    When the Moment Calls                 3
12     +9    +4    +8    +8    Ability Boon, Grant Move Action       3
13     +9    +4    +8    +8    Commander's Boon                      3
14     +10   +4    +9    +9    Redirected Spell                      3
15     +11   +5    +9    +9    Ability Boon                          3
16     +12   +5    +10   +10   Grant Move Action, Commander's Boon   4
17     +12   +5    +10   +10   Instant Refocus                       4
18     +13   +6    +11   +11   Ability Boon                          4
19     +14   +6    +11   +11   Commander's Boon                      4
20     +15   +6    +12   +12   Grant Move Action, Commander Aura     4


Table 2: Spells Per Day

Level  1st  2nd  3rd  4th  5th  6th
-----------------------------------
1      0    —    —    —    —    —
2      0    —    —    —    —    —
3      1    —    —    —    —    —
4      2    0    —    —    —    —
5      3    1    —    —    —    —
6      3    2    —    —    —    —
7      3    2    0    —    —    —
8      3    3    1    —    —    —
9      3    3    2    —    —    —
10     3    3    2    0    —    —
11     3    3    3    1    —    —
12     3    3    3    2    —    —
13     3    3    3    2    0    —
14     3    3    3    3    1    —
15     4    3    3    3    2    —
16     4    4    3    3    2    0
17     4    4    4    3    3    1
18     4    4    4    4    3    2
19     4    4    4    4    4    3
20     4    4    4    4    4    4


Table 3: Psionic Focus

Level  Power Points/Day  Powers Known  Maximum Power Level
----------------------------------------------------------
1      0                 1             1
2      1                 2             1
3      3                 2             1
4      5                 3             2
5      7                 3             2
6      11                4             2
7      15                4             3
8      19                5             3
9      23                5             3
10     27                6             4
11     35                6             4
12     43                7             4
13     51                7             5
14     59                8             5
15     67                8             5
16     79                9             6
17     91                9             6
18     103               10            6
19     115               10            6
20     127               11            6


Table 4: Combat Focus

Level  Maneuvers Known  Maneuvers Readied  Maximum Maneuver Level
-----------------------------------------------------------------
1      1                1                  1
2      1                1                  1
3      2                1                  1
4      2                1                  2
5      3                2                  2
6      3                2                  2
7      4                2                  3
8      4                2                  3
9      5                3                  3
10     5                3                  4
11     6                3                  4
12     6                3                  4
13     7                4                  5
14     7                4                  5
15     8                4                  5
16     8                4                  6
17     9                5                  6
18     9                5                  6
19     10               5                  6
20     10               5                  6


Game Rule Information
Commanders have the following game statistics.

Alignment: Any
Hit Die: d8
Starting Gold: 5d4 x 10 (125 gp)
Starting Age: Complex (as wizard)

Class skills
Bluff (Cha), Diplomacy (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (Int), Listen (Wis), Perform (Cha), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Speak Language (n/a), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str).
Skill Points at 1st level: (4 + Int modifier) x 4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier

Class Features
Trained in the basics of fighting, Commanders possess a general knowledge of weapons and armor. Their real strength is their ability to lead those who follow them to success they might not otherwise reach in combat. Commanders make passable warriors themselves, when personal danger finds them.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency
Commanders are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, with all types of armor (heavy, medium, and light), and with shields (except tower shields).

Cohorts (Ex)
A commander is always surrounded by a number of highly skilled individuals, ones he has shaped and taught throughout their career, and who owe everything to him. Is it on these men and women that he focuses his abilities, although there are lesser benefits for those other allies who have chosen to follow his lead. At 1st level, the commander gains a single cohort. At 2nd level and beyond, he assigns to them one of the foci listed below at the beginning of each day. Treat any cohort before assigning a foci as a commoner (of any LA 0 race) with levels equal to the commander's class level -2 (minimum level 1) and the elite array. If the commander lose a cohort, he may find another by taking a week to intensively search for one (taking no other actions during that time). Assigning foci to his cohorts requires the commander having a deep and instructive conversation with all of them for one hour, after which they gain the foci he has chosen for them for twenty four hours or until he decides to change it. At 5th level, the commander can change a single cohort's focus one time per day, with a further additional use every 5 levels (10, 15, 20). All cohorts who use the arcane focus or divine focus ability must still obey the normal rules for preparing spells (including any rest required). The commander gains another cohort at 6th, 11th, and 16th level. Otherwise, treat as per the leadership feat. The commander cannot gain cohorts via other means (leadership feat, thrallherd class, etc.).
  • Arcane Focus: The chosen cohort gains the ability to prepare and cast arcane spells, which may be chosen from the wizard spell list. He prepares and casts these spells just as a wizard does, including the use of a spellbook (Commander's cohorts often use stolen or borrowed spellbooks; see page 178 of the Player's Handbook for details). His spells per day are noted on Table 2. He gains bonus spells for a high Intelligence score, just as a wizard does. When Table 2 indicates that he get 0 spells per day of a given spell level, he gains only the bonus spells he would be entitled to based on his Intelligence score for that spell level. His caster level is equal to his character level. He also gains a +2 competence bonus on Knowledge (arcana) checks and Spellcraft checks and a +2 bonus on Will saves. These bonuses improve by +2 every 4 cohort levels (at 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th).
  • Combat Focus: The chosen cohort gains proficiency with all martial and exotic weapons, increases his maximum hit points by +3 per cohort level, and increases his base attack bonus to that of a fighter. He gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves, and chooses one of the following: a +2 bonus on attack rolls, a +2 bonus on weapon damage rolls, or damage reduction 2/-. All of these bonuses (including the damage reduction) improve by +2 every 4 cohort levels (at 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th). He then chooses one of the following:
    • Combatant: At 1st level, he gains a bonus feat, chosen from the list of fighter bonus feats. He must meet the prerequisites for this feat. At 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th level, he gains an additional bonus feat.
    • Initiator: He gains access to a single martial discipline (See Tome of Battle). His initiator level is equal to his cohort level, while his maneuvers known, readied, and the maximum level known are all given on Table 4. He recovers maneuvers as a Warblade does.
  • Divine Focus: The chosen cohort gains the ability to prepare and cast divine spells, which may be chosen from the cleric spell list. He prepares and casts these spells just as a cleric does, except that he cannot spontaneously cast spells. He can only prepare new divine spells at sunrise. His spells per day are noted on Table 2. He gains bonus spells for a high Wisdom score, just as a cleric does. When Table 2 indicates that he gets 0 spells per day of a given spell level, he gains only the bonus spells he would be entitled to based on his Wisdom score for that spell level. His caster level is equal to his cohort level. He also gains a +2 competence bonus on Knowledge (religion) checks and a +2 bonus on Fortitude and Will saves. These bonuses improve by +2 every 4 cohort levels (at 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th).
  • Stealth Focus: The chosen cohort increases his maximum hit points by +1 per cohort level, and gains trapfinding (see page 50 of the Player's Handbook), uncanny dodge (see page 26 of the Player's Handbook), a +2 competence bonus on Disable Device, Hide, Move Silently, Open Lock, and Search checks, and a +2 bonus on Reflex saves. These bonuses improve by +2 every 4 cohort levels (at 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th). He gains Sneak Attack +1d6 for every three cohort levels (1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18). At 1st level, he gains the ability to go invisible twice per day. At 4th level, he gains two additional uses and treat his invisibility as invisibility, greater. At 8th level, he gains two additional uses and can become ethereal. These effects last for one round per point of competence bonus. At 12th level, he gains Hide in Plain Sight (as per the shadowdancer ability). At 16th level, he ignore any immunity a creature might have that prevents sneak attacks or similar effects.
  • Wild Focus: The chosen cohort increases his maximum hit points by +2 per cohort level, and gains wild empathy (see page 35 of the Player's Handbook; treat his druid level as equal to his cohort level), woodland stride (see page 36 of the Player's Handbook), a +2 competence bonus on Climb, Handle Animal, Jump, Knowledge (nature), and Survival checks, and a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves. These bonuses improve by +2 every 4 cohort levels (at 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th). In addition, he may choose either the following Favoured Enemy or Wild Shape ability.
    • Favoured Enemy: choose a favoured enemy, as per the ranger class ability, at 1st level. At 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th, choose an additional favoured enemy. The bonus against favoured enemies is equal to the bonus on Fortitude saves this ability provides.
    • Wild Shape: At 4th level, the cohort gains Wild Shape, as per the druid class ability, useable twice per day. At 8th level, he gains two additional uses of Wild Shape, and the ability to change into Large, Tiny, or Plant creatures. At 12th level, he gains two additional uses of Wild Shape, and the ability to change into Huge creatures. At 16th level, he gains two additional uses of Wild Shape, and the ability to change into Elemental, and Huge Elemental creatures.
  • Psionic Focus: The chosen cohort gains the ability to learn and manifest powers, which are chosen from the psion power list (this does not given him access to discipline powers). He manifests these powers just as a psion of his level does. His power points/day and powers known are indicated on Table 3. He gains bonus power points for a high Intelligence score, just as a psion does. His manifester level is equal to his cohort level. Once he has chosen his powers known for the day, even if he subsequently refocus his aptitude, they remain his powers known until the next day. He also gains a +2 competence bonus on Autohypnosis, Knowledge (psionics), and Psicraft checks and a +2 bonus on Will saves. These bonuses improve by +2 every 4 cohort levels (at 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th).
Commander Aura (Su)
The commander exerts an effect on allies in his vicinity. He can learn to produce different effects, or auras, over the course of his career. Projecting an aura is a swift action, and he can only project one aura at a time. An aura remains in effect until he uses a free action to dismiss it or he activates another aura in its place. He can have an aura active continually; thus, an aura can be in effect at the start of an encounter even before he takes his first turn. Unless otherwise noted, his aura affects all allies within 60 feet (including himself) with line of effect to him. His aura is dismissed if he becomes unconscious or is slain, but otherwise it remains in effect even if he is incapable of acting. The bonus granted by the aura is equal to the commander's charisma modifier or his class level, whichever is lower. A 1st-level commander knows how to project three auras chosen from the list below. At every odd-numbered level after that, he learns one additional aura. At 10th level, he can activate a second aura, and at 20th level, a third.
  • Energy Shield: Any creature striking the commander or his ally with a natural attack or a nonreach melee weapon is dealt 2 points of energy damage for each point of his aura bonus. The energy type is chosen when creating the aura from acid, cold, electricity, or fire.
  • Power: Bonus on melee damage rolls equal to his aura bonus.
  • Presence: Bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate checks equal to his aura bonus. Also, any creature viewing someone affected by the aura must make a Will save against DC 10 + 1/2 commander level + commander's charisma modifier or be fascinated until he can no longer see anyone under the effect of this aura.
  • Resistance: Resistance to acid, cold, electricity, or fire damage equal to 5 for every two points of his aura bonus (min 5).
  • Senses: Bonus on Listen and Spot checks, as well as on initiative checks, equal to his aura bonus. In addition, all creatures under the effect of this aura receive a bonus on saves against dazzling, blindness, and deafeness equal to 2 per point of aura bonus.
  • Toughness: DR 1/magic for each point of his aura bonus.
  • Vigor: Fast healing 1 for every 2 points of his aura bonus, but only affects characters at or below one-half their full normal hit points.
  • Attack: Bonus on melee attack rolls.
  • Care: Bonus to Armor Class.
  • Urgency: Allies’ base land speed is increased 5' for every two points of his aura bonus (min 5').
  • Resilient Troops: Bonus on all saves equal to 1 for every two points of his aura bonus (min 1).
  • Steady Hand: Bonus on ranged attack rolls.
  • Accuracy: Bonus on ranged damage rolls equal to his aura bonus.
  • Alliance: If an ally makes an attack of opportunity against an enemy, one other allied creature per two points of aura bonus in melee range of the enemy may make a free attack against that creature with a -4 penalty. The commander chooses which creature.
  • Dogpile: If an ally successfully critical hits an enemy, one other allied creature per two points of aura bonus in melee range of the enemy may make a free attack against that creature with a -4 penalty. The commander chooses which creature.
  • Transfer of Power: Allied magic users in the aura receive a +1 bonus to caster level (or appropriate) for every 4 points of aura bonus.
  • Resist the Inevitable: Allies in the aura gain spell resistance equal to 10 + 2 per point of aura bonus.
  • Countering Blows: All allies in the aura are treated as if they had the Combat Reflexes feat, except the number of Attacks of Opportunity is increased by 1 for every 4 points of aura bonus.
Warden (Su)
Born with the desire to protect their people, a commander always knows where they are. He gains a +20 circumstance bonus on Listen and Spot checks to hear and see allies. At 9th level, his senses are honed so finely that he is aware of the location and status (as with the status spell) of all allies within 100 feet per class level, even if they are not within sight.

Aid Them All (Ex)
As a standard action, make a DC 10 commander aura check (1d20 + your commander aura bonus). If you succeed, increase your commander aura bonus by 2 for 1 round.

Ability Boon (Ex)
At 3rd level, when choosing a focus for a cohort, the commander may grant that cohort a +2 competence bonus to an ability score of the commander's choice. This bonus lasts until the commander changes his cohort's focus. Every 3 commander levels after that (6, 9, 12, 15, 18), the bonus increases by +2. If desired, the commander can split this bonus in half and apply it to two different ability scores of the cohort (thus, at 4th level, it would be +1 to two different scores).

Grant Move Action (Ex)
Starting at 4th level, a commander can direct and motivate his cohorts to act immediately. Once per day, as a standard action, he may grant an extra move action to all of his cohorts within 60 feet. Each of the affected cohorts takes this extra move action immediately, acting in their current initiative order. This extra action does not affect the cohorts’ initiative count; the round continues normally after the commander’s turn is over. (This may mean, for example, that an ally whose initiative count immediately follows the commander’s may get an extra move action from the commander, followed directly by a full round worth of actions on the ally’s turn.) At 8th level, a commander gains the ability to grant an extra move action to his cohorts twice per day. The frequency increases to three times per day at 12th level, four times per day at 16th level, and five times per day at 20th level.

Commander's Boon (Su)
At 4th level, the commander gains the ability to grant certain abilities to all allies currently under the effect of its aura as a standard action (unless mentioned otherwise). Once per day, he can grant any of the class features described below. Every 3 levels after that (7, 10, 13, 16, 19) he gains one additional use (either to grant the same ability, or a different ability).
  • Evasion: As an immediate action, the commander grants his allies evasion for one minute.
  • Rage: The commander grants his allies the benefits of the barbarian's rage ability, for 1 round plus 1 round per point of (newly improved) constitution modifier.
  • Smite: The commander grants his allies the benefits of the paladin's smite ability for 1 round. They may add their Charisma bonus (if any) to the attack roll and deal 1 extra point of damage per character level.
  • Sudden Strike: The commander grants his allies the ability to deal an extra 1d6 points of damage per two character levels any time the target would be denied its Dexterity bonus. This lasts for one round.
  • Skirmish: The commander grants his allies (for one round) the ability to deal an extra 1d6 points of damage on all attacks they make during any round in which they move at least 10 feet away from where they were at the start of your turn. The extra damage applies only to attacks made after they have moved at least 10 feet. The skirmish ability cannot be used while mounted. The extra damage applies only to attacks taken during their turn. This extra damage increases by 1d6 for every four character levels gained above 1st (2d6 at 5th, 3d6 at 9th, 4d6 at 13th, and 5d6 at 17th level). The extra damage only applies against living creatures that have a discernible anatomy. Undead, constructs, oozes, plants, incorporeal creatures, and creatures immune to extra damage from critical hits are not vulnerable to this additional damage. The affected allies must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach such a spot. They can apply this extra damage to ranged attacks made while skirmishing, but only if the target is within 30 feet. At their 3rd character level, they gain a +1 competence bonus to Armor Class during any round in which they move at least 10 feet. The bonus applies as soon as they have moved 10 feet, and lasts until the start of their next turn. This bonus improves by 1 for every four levels gained above 3rd (+2 at 7th, +3 at 11th, +4 at 15th, and +5 at 19th level). They cannot use this ability when wearing medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load.
Seal the Breach (Su)
A number of times per day equal to his charisma modifier, a commander can reposition a cohort in order to plug an opening on the battlefield. A cohort under his command is teleported from its current position, which must be within 100 feet per class level, to a square of the commander's choosing, no more than 30 feet from the commander. The square must be unoccupied, and it must not present any danger to the teleported creature. This is a standard action to use.

Rapid Refocus (Ex)
At 7th level, the commander gains the ability to change a cohort's focus in only 10 minutes.

When the Moment Calls (Su)
The commander, as any good general, can sense the moment when a battle is about to turn. The commander can grant a full round action to one cohort under his command once per encounter. That cohort takes his actions immediately. This is a standard action to activate.

Redirected Spell (Su)
Any time the commander is the target of a single target beneficial spell, he may forgo the benefits of that spell to have it affect all allies within range of his aura. In each case, treat the spell as if it had been cast normally.

Instant Refocus (Ex)
At 17th level, the commander gains the ability to change a cohort's focus in only 1 full round.

Focused Choice
Prerequisites: Aptitude Focus ability, character level 6
Benefit: You increase the bonuses granted by a single aptitude focus by +2.
Special: You can take this feat multiple times. Each time it applies to a different aptitude focus.

Commander's Will
Prerequisites: Commander, Marshal, Dragon Shaman, Overlord, or similar aura ability, character level 6
Benefit: You increase your aura bonus for your auras by +1

By My Guiding Hand
Prerequisites: Commander, Marshal, Dragon Shaman, Overlord, or similar aura ability
Benefit: Allies who are adjacent to one another and under the effect of an aura you have created gain a +1 bonus to AC. Should you be adjacent to an ally, you do not gain the bonus, but they do. Allies who are flat-footed do not gain the benefits, and do not count as adjacent. Alternately, as a swift action you may choose to change the benefits from this to a +1 bonus to attack, losing the +1 bonus to AC for one round. All conditions still apply.

Ability Upon Command
Prerequisites: Ability Boon ability
Benefit: You increase the ability bonus granted by your class feature by +2.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2017, 01:58:55 PM by Stratovarius »

Garryl

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Re: Commander [Base]
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2017, 03:05:59 PM »
As I've discovered, the commander is REALLY front-loaded. I haven't looked at it that much at higher levels, although my gut says that it would be fine if it had only 1 or 2 cohorts max, if only because 3+ cohorts is just a plain old ton of actions that are still meaningful with 2/3 casting.

I'm going to be jumping around a bit in this analysis. Sorry for the disjointed thoughts. I've got a lot of them and I'm just trying to get them all out and recorded.

Okay, looking at the commander at 1st level, two front-loaded things jump out. That's a big problem, since those two things are all of the commander's class features. The end result is, in short, numbers that are too high at 1st level.
1) Auras go up to Cha bonus. This is your standard sort of frontloading that you see in a lot of classes, where you have a class feature you can dip into that doesn't deeply care about continuing with the class that granted it. The aura choices themselves have a few balance issues relative to each other, but that's a separate matter I'll address later if I remember. Some of the auras are stupidly good at low levels but just don't scale so well, and that's something I will be addressing here.
2) Cohorts. This is the other type of frontloaded class feature, and it's a bit subtler. You've got a class feature that relies on class levels for its scaling and really does need that scaling to keep up at higher levels. Its problem is that at the level it shows up, it's really really really powerful, and it doesn't drop down for a couple of levels until the scaling system catches up. Specifically, the fact that you get a full fledged 1st-level cohort at 1st-level, which the scaling formula implies to be the appropriate power level for what you should get at 3rd.



The cohort is a bit harder to evaluate than the auras. You see, auras and their effects are pretty straightforward. You're giving a bonus to your party just like it's written out. The bonus is going to start at +4 (there's no competition for stats against Charisma, so you will stick an 18 there), and it's going to increase by around +1 every 3-4 levels, give or take, with a little jump at the end when you start using tomes. Depending on your level of optimization, this could go a lot higher (ask Soro_Lost, he loves to talk about Charisma scores in the 60s or higher). The biggest problem here is that the numbers end up in a reasonable place, but just start too high. This isn't just because of the ability score-based scaling, which starts much higher than its prolonged scaling would imply, but because of what this gets applied to.

I'm going to reference the marshal class, from the Miniatures Handbook. Say what you will about the class being too weak (it is), it did have a decent sense of what sorts of numbers can go on what level of scaling. The marshal's auras are divided into minor and major.
  • The minor auras are lesser effects that don't directly impact combat power (ex: bonuses to skills) and more limited effects that generally appear with smaller bonuses, but can afford larger ones here due to being more situational (ex: bonus to AC vs. AoOs) or otherwise applying to only a subset of what they normally do (ex: bonus to a single type of save). It's not even uncommon for bonuses of these sorts to apply fully based on an ability score when found as class features (ex: a paladin's divine grace granting +Cha to all saves), but those only apply to a single character, rather than the entire party.
  • The major auras are your more generally applicable, always useful combat bonuses. This includes things like bonuses to attack rolls, AC, or all saves. Major auras have a much more limited scaling, based solely on class level. Similarly, you often see these sorts of bonuses as class features in larger magnitudes, but as with minor auras, those apply to individual characters, whereas this is a class feature that applies to each of the at least 4 people in a party.

This division of bonus categories is an important thing to note, and was one thing that the original marshal did mostly right. There's a huge difference between +4 to all saves and +4 to a few skill checks. Presently, all of the commander's auras are lumped into a single pile. With the exception of a couple that scale at reduced rates (fast healing, caster level) a couple that don't scale at all (alliance, dogpile), and a few that provide bonuses that are inherently on different scales and are adjusted appropriately (reflective damage, SR, resistances, and movement speed), all of the auras give a straight bonus equal to the commander's Charisma modifier. Everything acts on the same scale. This means that +1 damage is valued as highly a +1 on attack rolls, +1 AC, +1 to all saves, +1 to a trio of skills, and +1 max AoO/round. Some of those comparisons are quite reasonable. Others, not so much. There needs to be an adjustment in the scaling between the various auras.

Back to the ability score-based scaling. Remember, these auras are applying party-wide. Taking the +all saves aura means that not only do you get divine grace, but everyone in the party gets it, too. Worse, they get to use your optimized Charisma score, rather than their own. Getting +Cha to all saves is fine. Giving a small to moderate bonus to all saves to the party is fine. Giving a big bonus to the whole party in a limited set of circumstances is fine. Combining the best of all of those is problematic. I'm just using saves as an example because it's easy to understand, easy to break down (all vs. Fort or Reflex or Will), and has a solid comparison point (divine grace @ paladin 2nd), but the same principle holds true to most of the other bonuses that auras can grant.

Now, one last thing about auras before I try to move on to cohorts. Some of the auras just produce way too big numbers at 1st level. This is strongly related to what I just talked about, but there are a few specific nuances to it I need to address. I've already discussed how +Cha can give bonuses across a party that are much larger than they should be, but most of what I've talked about have been about bonuses on a d20 roll. Some types of numbers, especially at the lowest of levels, have a much narrower band of reasonability. In this case, I'll have to dissect the specific auras that relate to this.
- Energy Shield: Reflective damage is cool. A little bit is neat and useful. Unfortunately, at 1st level, hit points are on a much narrower band than a d20s 1-20 range. Typically, hp goes from 6 up to about 15 at 1st level. You get a few outliers at CR 1 like the 29 hp sack of meat that is a 4 HD zombie, but on average you get 12-13 hp for CR 1 enemies (according to Optimization by the Numbers, and level 1 encounters generally deal with larger quantities of weaker, lower CR enemies, too. 18 Charisma deals 8 damage when hit, enough to take down the average CR 1/2 creature (6.6 hp) and takes off half the hp of the strongest one (16 hp). Your typical CR 1 enemy loses after hitting you twice, too. Your typical CR 1 enemy is doing noticeably less damage than that on each of its hits, too. Most enemies will only be averaging 4-7 damage per hit at CR 1. Even the 18 Str elite array orc fighter with a greatsword, sitting at the top of the damage curve, only deals 13 damage per hit, just over 50% more than you do reactively. If he doesn't drop you in that single hit, he's still going down to the second burst of reactive damage, so at best he gets a pyrrhic victory as you both bleed out. One of the deadliest enemies for the level has a non-zero chance of losing if you stand there and do nothing. Most any enemy that needs 2+ hits to drop you loses automatically.
- Toughness: Damage reduction is a difficult thing to evaluate. It comes up so rarely on the players' side, but even then usually in very small quantities. It has a similar issue of quantity as energy shield, being very potent at level 1 but losing that potency as higher level enemies come with higher amounts of damage. Small amounts of DR have very little effect, but the defensive benefits become more and more pronounced the higher DR rises until all or nearly all of the damage is prevented. It's similar to AC in this regard, except that instead of working on a 20-point scale, at 1st level DR typically works on a 4-7-point scale, (although outliers can go as high as the low 10s). Having DR 4 will halve or negate the damage that most CR 1/2 and CR 1 enemies deal. Even our 13 avg. damage orc from before loses significant enough chunk of damage to guarantee that he'll need at least 2 hits to drop your party's barbarian or warblade, and give very good odds for even the squishier commander with only a d8 for hp.



The exact effect of a cohort at 1st level is much harder to analyze, as it has numerous factors that must be taken into account. The numbers, too, are less intuitive. At 1st level, the arcane, divine, and psionic foci pretty much amount to 1 spell/power per day. It's not a direct thing, but we do kind of know at this point roughly how effective one casting of a wizard or cleric spell or a psion power is (roughly 50% chance to win one of the 4 encounters in a day is what I typically estimate it as). Not unreasonable for a companion-type class feature if the rest of the class is comparably potent (which it would be once 1st-level auras get addressed). Stealth and wild foci are mostly about skills, and since wild's wild shape doesn't show up at the level range we're evaluating, it can be safely ignored. A commoner 1 with +2 damage or 2/day invisibility is very reasonable as a 1st-level companion, so those actually seem quite fine at first glance.

Combat focus is where the numbers really start to come in. It adds a pile of them. Hit points, attack, damage, DR, a feat, and a maneuver. There's a lot to look at here, and I don't think I can do an effective, accurate analysis for this sort of thing without actually statting some things out. I'm getting a bit tired, and generating those numbers is a lot of work, so I'll come back to this later.

Before I go, though, I don't want to forget about some of the front-loading scaling I mentioned earlier. At higher levels, the cohort keeps to 2 levels behind the commander. That's fine. At 2nd-level, the cohort is 1 level behind the commander... warning signs, but not necessarily wrong. At 1st level, however, the cohort is right at the commander's level. Alert! With combat focus, you've got a 1st-level fighter for a pet at level 1. If the commander stays home and reads a book in bed, he's already contributed his share to the party at level 1, just with the cohort tagging along. It's similar to the druid with its animal companion. The commander has the same class chassis, even, just with auras instead of spells.

I'm not sure what the fix is, especially since a major part of the premise of the commander is having cohorts. My gut ideas are either to remove the cohort at levels 1 and 2, or to remove the focus entirely until level 2 or 3, leaving the cohort just as a CR 1/3 commoner at 1st level. I'm not sure how well those would work, and I suspect I'll know more and/or have other, better ideas once I get the deeper stats analysis done.

Also, the cohort level/effectiveness just scales unevenly at low levels. That's just off-putting. It's 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, .... Those three levels sitting at level 1 just don't work. As a creature unto itself, it's virtually impossible to make it appropriately powered at all three levels (commander levels 1, 2, and 3) despite the cohort staying identical across them.
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Stratovarius

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Re: Commander [Base]
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2017, 08:13:49 AM »
This division of bonus categories is an important thing to note, and was one thing that the original marshal did mostly right. There's a huge difference between +4 to all saves and +4 to a few skill checks. Presently, all of the commander's auras are lumped into a single pile. With the exception of a couple that scale at reduced rates (fast healing, caster level) a couple that don't scale at all (alliance, dogpile), and a few that provide bonuses that are inherently on different scales and are adjusted appropriately (reflective damage, SR, resistances, and movement speed), all of the auras give a straight bonus equal to the commander's Charisma modifier. Everything acts on the same scale. This means that +1 damage is valued as highly a +1 on attack rolls, +1 AC, +1 to all saves, +1 to a trio of skills, and +1 max AoO/round. Some of those comparisons are quite reasonable. Others, not so much. There needs to be an adjustment in the scaling between the various auras.

Back to the ability score-based scaling. Remember, these auras are applying party-wide. Taking the +all saves aura means that not only do you get divine grace, but everyone in the party gets it, too. Worse, they get to use your optimized Charisma score, rather than their own. Getting +Cha to all saves is fine. Giving a small to moderate bonus to all saves to the party is fine. Giving a big bonus to the whole party in a limited set of circumstances is fine. Combining the best of all of those is problematic. I'm just using saves as an example because it's easy to understand, easy to break down (all vs. Fort or Reflex or Will), and has a solid comparison point (divine grace @ paladin 2nd), but the same principle holds true to most of the other bonuses that auras can grant.

Now, one last thing about auras before I try to move on to cohorts. Some of the auras just produce way too big numbers at 1st level. This is strongly related to what I just talked about, but there are a few specific nuances to it I need to address. I've already discussed how +Cha can give bonuses across a party that are much larger than they should be, but most of what I've talked about have been about bonuses on a d20 roll. Some types of numbers, especially at the lowest of levels, have a much narrower band of reasonability. In this case, I'll have to dissect the specific auras that relate to this.
- Energy Shield: Reflective damage is cool. A little bit is neat and useful. Unfortunately, at 1st level, hit points are on a much narrower band than a d20s 1-20 range. Typically, hp goes from 6 up to about 15 at 1st level. You get a few outliers at CR 1 like the 29 hp sack of meat that is a 4 HD zombie, but on average you get 12-13 hp for CR 1 enemies (according to Optimization by the Numbers, and level 1 encounters generally deal with larger quantities of weaker, lower CR enemies, too. 18 Charisma deals 8 damage when hit, enough to take down the average CR 1/2 creature (6.6 hp) and takes off half the hp of the strongest one (16 hp). Your typical CR 1 enemy loses after hitting you twice, too. Your typical CR 1 enemy is doing noticeably less damage than that on each of its hits, too. Most enemies will only be averaging 4-7 damage per hit at CR 1. Even the 18 Str elite array orc fighter with a greatsword, sitting at the top of the damage curve, only deals 13 damage per hit, just over 50% more than you do reactively. If he doesn't drop you in that single hit, he's still going down to the second burst of reactive damage, so at best he gets a pyrrhic victory as you both bleed out. One of the deadliest enemies for the level has a non-zero chance of losing if you stand there and do nothing. Most any enemy that needs 2+ hits to drop you loses automatically.
- Toughness: Damage reduction is a difficult thing to evaluate. It comes up so rarely on the players' side, but even then usually in very small quantities. It has a similar issue of quantity as energy shield, being very potent at level 1 but losing that potency as higher level enemies come with higher amounts of damage. Small amounts of DR have very little effect, but the defensive benefits become more and more pronounced the higher DR rises until all or nearly all of the damage is prevented. It's similar to AC in this regard, except that instead of working on a 20-point scale, at 1st level DR typically works on a 4-7-point scale, (although outliers can go as high as the low 10s). Having DR 4 will halve or negate the damage that most CR 1/2 and CR 1 enemies deal. Even our 13 avg. damage orc from before loses significant enough chunk of damage to guarantee that he'll need at least 2 hits to drop your party's barbarian or warblade, and give very good odds for even the squishier commander with only a d8 for hp.

I would disagree that the Marshal got it right in terms of major aura scaling for the very reason you mentioned earlier in your post - it's too weak. By later levels of the game, +5 attack to those party members that need it is so easily reproduceable in a decent party that the focus shifts from "can I hit" to "what non-combat defenses do I need to overcome". And when it comes to coping with battlefield control, flying, etherealness, etc., the Marshal's bonuses are too small to make an impact. The game does not scale in a linear fashion, so making abilities that do almost always results in a falling behind the power curve unless there's other class abilities that jump off of it.

There are two ways around that: attempting to scale the bonus manually (Rage is an example, getting both more and bigger bonuses as the game goes on), or letting the player scale the bonus as appropriate for the game that he is in. The easiest way to do the latter is to tie it to an ability score, in this case Charisma. I would not claim it is a perfect solution, but the only one that immediately comes to mind is a kind of "point buy for auras", where every level the commander gets a number of points that he can expend to increase the bonus from one or more auras, but that involves both more bookkeeping and less flexibility for the class.

Based on discussions we've had elsewhere, the Commander starts out at tier 1 at lower levels, but slowly slides down the ranking system to tier 3 as other classes get more of their abilities. So there's too much "pop" at first level, especially, because the Cha bonus does not increase gradually, but rather starts out high for the level and then tails off to where it's quite possibly only one higher four levels later at 5th. The solution proposed, and one I think is quite effective, is to limit the aura bonus to min(class level or charisma modifier). It puts the Commander at a maximum of +2 at 1st level (due to the feat), which is in the right range to give the RNG a bit of a nudge but without overbalancing it. Without the feat, it looks better, so one item that might be necessary is to limit that feat to 3rd or 6th level Commanders, not 1st level ones, since it's such an obvious benefit to take.

Now, as to the equality of bonuses from auras: you are correct that the scaling between different benefits is not accurate. Looking at it again, I'd switch over to this (comments in bold):
(click to show/hide)

The combined changes should beat the Commander back down to a sane level at 1st from the Aura side.

The exact effect of a cohort at 1st level is much harder to analyze, as it has numerous factors that must be taken into account. The numbers, too, are less intuitive. At 1st level, the arcane, divine, and psionic foci pretty much amount to 1 spell/power per day. It's not a direct thing, but we do kind of know at this point roughly how effective one casting of a wizard or cleric spell or a psion power is (roughly 50% chance to win one of the 4 encounters in a day is what I typically estimate it as). Not unreasonable for a companion-type class feature if the rest of the class is comparably potent (which it would be once 1st-level auras get addressed). Stealth and wild foci are mostly about skills, and since wild's wild shape doesn't show up at the level range we're evaluating, it can be safely ignored. A commoner 1 with +2 damage or 2/day invisibility is very reasonable as a 1st-level companion, so those actually seem quite fine at first glance.

Combat focus is where the numbers really start to come in. It adds a pile of them. Hit points, attack, damage, DR, a feat, and a maneuver. There's a lot to look at here, and I don't think I can do an effective, accurate analysis for this sort of thing without actually statting some things out. I'm getting a bit tired, and generating those numbers is a lot of work, so I'll come back to this later.

Before I go, though, I don't want to forget about some of the front-loading scaling I mentioned earlier. At higher levels, the cohort keeps to 2 levels behind the commander. That's fine. At 2nd-level, the cohort is 1 level behind the commander... warning signs, but not necessarily wrong. At 1st level, however, the cohort is right at the commander's level. Alert! With combat focus, you've got a 1st-level fighter for a pet at level 1. If the commander stays home and reads a book in bed, he's already contributed his share to the party at level 1, just with the cohort tagging along. It's similar to the druid with its animal companion. The commander has the same class chassis, even, just with auras instead of spells.

I'm not sure what the fix is, especially since a major part of the premise of the commander is having cohorts. My gut ideas are either to remove the cohort at levels 1 and 2, or to remove the focus entirely until level 2 or 3, leaving the cohort just as a CR 1/3 commoner at 1st level. I'm not sure how well those would work, and I suspect I'll know more and/or have other, better ideas once I get the deeper stats analysis done.

Also, the cohort level/effectiveness just scales unevenly at low levels. That's just off-putting. It's 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, .... Those three levels sitting at level 1 just don't work. As a creature unto itself, it's virtually impossible to make it appropriately powered at all three levels (commander levels 1, 2, and 3) despite the cohort staying identical across them.

Please note (just for the arcane side) that this class is heavily restricted - he has to buy and utilize a spellbook and spells like a wizard does, which makes that particlar foci even weaker. I might consider switching it to Sorcerer casting in order to stop the fussing in that area.

The issue with the cohort is that there's a floor below which it physically can't go - it has to have at least one hit dice, and all the attendant benefits of being a creature such as actions, regardless of everything else on top of it such as abilities. Those alone carry a fair bit of worth at 1st level, which is a problem I simply can't resolve if I want to have clean scaling of having a cohort.

What I can do is this (Since Combat Foci is the problem child):
  • Combat Focus: The chosen cohort gains proficiency with all martial and exotic weapons, increases his maximum hit points by +3 per cohort level, and increases his base attack bonus to that of a fighter. He gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves, and chooses one of the following: a +2 bonus on attack rolls, a +2 bonus on weapon damage rolls, or damage reduction 2/-. All of these bonuses (including the damage reduction) improve by +2 every 4 cohort levels (at 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th). He then chooses one of the following:
    Combatant: At 1st level, he gains a bonus feat, chosen from the list of fighter bonus feats. He must meet the prerequisites for this feat. At 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th level, he gains an additional bonus feat.
    Initiator: He gains access to a single martial discipline (See Tome of Battle). His initiator level is equal to his cohort level, while his maneuvers known, readied, and the maximum level known are all given on Table 4. He recovers maneuvers as a Warblade does.

    Thoughts?

Garryl

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Re: Commander [Base]
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2017, 12:25:14 PM »
I would disagree that the Marshal got it right in terms of major aura scaling for the very reason you mentioned earlier in your post - it's too weak. By later levels of the game, +5 attack to those party members that need it is so easily reproduceable in a decent party that the focus shifts from "can I hit" to "what non-combat defenses do I need to overcome". And when it comes to coping with battlefield control, flying, etherealness, etc., the Marshal's bonuses are too small to make an impact. The game does not scale in a linear fashion, so making abilities that do almost always results in a falling behind the power curve unless there's other class abilities that jump off of it.

Oh, the marshal still messed up the numbers, and the lack of anything else in the class is an even more extreme problem for the class as a whole. I'm just pointing out what it did get right, the concept of dividing these different sets of numbers into a fast, automatic scaling group and a slow, deliberate scaling group.

Quote
There are two ways around that: attempting to scale the bonus manually (Rage is an example, getting both more and bigger bonuses as the game goes on), or letting the player scale the bonus as appropriate for the game that he is in. The easiest way to do the latter is to tie it to an ability score, in this case Charisma. I would not claim it is a perfect solution, but the only one that immediately comes to mind is a kind of "point buy for auras", where every level the commander gets a number of points that he can expend to increase the bonus from one or more auras, but that involves both more bookkeeping and less flexibility for the class.

Do what the original marshal did, but with more reasonable numbers and not relying on it for 100% of the class's capabilities. Start off the aura bonus at +1 at 1st level, then scale it directly with class levels, +1 every few levels. This would require a bit of revision to the rest of the commander's class features, though, since aside from the auras only seal the breach relies on Charisma.

Quote
Based on discussions we've had elsewhere, the Commander starts out at tier 1 at lower levels, but slowly slides down the ranking system to tier 3 as other classes get more of their abilities. So there's too much "pop" at first level, especially, because the Cha bonus does not increase gradually, but rather starts out high for the level and then tails off to where it's quite possibly only one higher four levels later at 5th. The solution proposed, and one I think is quite effective, is to limit the aura bonus to min(class level or charisma modifier). It puts the Commander at a maximum of +2 at 1st level (due to the feat), which is in the right range to give the RNG a bit of a nudge but without overbalancing it. Without the feat, it looks better, so one item that might be necessary is to limit that feat to 3rd or 6th level Commanders, not 1st level ones, since it's such an obvious benefit to take.

Now, as to the equality of bonuses from auras: you are correct that the scaling between different benefits is not accurate. Looking at it again, I'd switch over to this (comments in bold):
(click to show/hide)

The combined changes should beat the Commander back down to a sane level at 1st from the Aura side.

With the initial spike removed, the auras as a whole are a lot more reasonable. Once you figure out what scaling options you're ultimately going with, you can reevaluate how each individual aura applies it.

One thing I really want is for something extra to be added to Presence. It's just skills, while every single other aura has a combat application. Senses, too, has room for a little more since it's pretty much only useful at the moment battle starts and not afterwards, but initiative is very important so I'd be careful about adding too much.

Please note (just for the arcane side) that this class is heavily restricted - he has to buy and utilize a spellbook and spells like a wizard does, which makes that particlar foci even weaker. I might consider switching it to Sorcerer casting in order to stop the fussing in that area.

Yeah, I kinda figured that if you were using the arcane focus at all in the first few levels, it would be by borrowing the party wizard's spellbook.

Quote
The issue with the cohort is that there's a floor below which it physically can't go - it has to have at least one hit dice, and all the attendant benefits of being a creature such as actions, regardless of everything else on top of it such as abilities. Those alone carry a fair bit of worth at 1st level, which is a problem I simply can't resolve if I want to have clean scaling of having a cohort.

As I said, one of the options is also to just drop the bonuses you're actually giving your cohort at the lowest of levels. A CR 1/3 commoner, lacking the benefits and abilities of the various foci, fits the scaling (in theory) of 2 levels below 1st, for example.

Quote
What I can do is this (Since Combat Foci is the problem child):
  • Combat Focus: The chosen cohort gains proficiency with all martial and exotic weapons, increases his maximum hit points by +3 per cohort level, and increases his base attack bonus to that of a fighter. He gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves, and chooses one of the following: a +2 bonus on attack rolls, a +2 bonus on weapon damage rolls, or damage reduction 2/-. All of these bonuses (including the damage reduction) improve by +2 every 4 cohort levels (at 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th). He then chooses one of the following:
    Combatant: At 1st level, he gains a bonus feat, chosen from the list of fighter bonus feats. He must meet the prerequisites for this feat. At 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th level, he gains an additional bonus feat.
    Initiator: He gains access to a single martial discipline (See Tome of Battle). His initiator level is equal to his cohort level, while his maneuvers known, readied, and the maximum level known are all given on Table 4. He recovers maneuvers as a Warblade does.
Thoughts?

Better. I still want to run some numbers, but I might be a while getting to it, if at all, at this point.
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Stratovarius

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Re: Commander [Base]
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2017, 01:33:52 PM »
This is going to be kind of in the order my brain responds:

The reason I'm a little worried about giving a commoner nothing is that if he dies (easy at 1st level and even more so at 2nd and 3rd), that class feature (i.e. half of the Commander class in many ways) is gone for a minimum of a week. It's very easy for a DM who wants (or even one who doesn't) to clobber the cohort and his max 4 hp (barring racial modifiers). One hit from the aforementioned orc barbarian and he evaporates. On the other hand... I see where you're coming from in as much as a well designed commoner (I'm not going as far as Troll-blooded, even) is a useful party contributor at 1st level. What would you say to the foci being applied at commander level 2 instead of level 1?

For the Presence aura, what about adding a save against fascinate for anyone who views a creature under the effect? It's a fairly minor debuff that doesn't work in combat, but is good in social situations.

For the Senses aura, I don't really want to get into adding things like darkvision and up, so... what about cannot be dazzled, blinded, or deafened?

I don't want to get away from basing the aura on Charisma, because otherwise the commander has precisely nothing valuable that's based off of any ability score, and can instead choose to focus entirely on being whatever he wants to be, knowing the chassis just sort of appears around him as he levels.

Garryl

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Re: Commander [Base]
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2017, 01:42:06 PM »
This is going to be kind of in the order my brain responds:

The reason I'm a little worried about giving a commoner nothing is that if he dies (easy at 1st level and even more so at 2nd and 3rd), that class feature (i.e. half of the Commander class in many ways) is gone for a minimum of a week. It's very easy for a DM who wants (or even one who doesn't) to clobber the cohort and his max 4 hp (barring racial modifiers). One hit from the aforementioned orc barbarian and he evaporates. On the other hand... I see where you're coming from in as much as a well designed commoner (I'm not going as far as Troll-blooded, even) is a useful party contributor at 1st level. What would you say to the foci being applied at commander level 2 instead of level 1?

For the Presence aura, what about adding a save against fascinate for anyone who views a creature under the effect? It's a fairly minor debuff that doesn't work in combat, but is good in social situations.

For the Senses aura, I don't really want to get into adding things like darkvision and up, so... what about cannot be dazzled, blinded, or deafened?

I don't want to get away from basing the aura on Charisma, because otherwise the commander has precisely nothing valuable that's based off of any ability score, and can instead choose to focus entirely on being whatever he wants to be, knowing the chassis just sort of appears around him as he levels.

I agree with all of these ideas. Maybe toning down the immunity to dazzle/blind/deafen to just a bonus on saves against them, though? I dunno.
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Re: Commander [Base]
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2017, 01:58:00 PM »
Updated the lead post. I should probably update my PC for your campaign now.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2017, 02:01:50 PM by Stratovarius »