Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Broken Bits: My list of broken paths

Broken Paragon Paths, Index
Introduction - Part One

The other day I commented how paragon paths had dropped in power level since the first Player's Handbook, with many negative consequences such as reduced class balance, unfulfilled player expectations, and a tendency to ignore the majority of 'normal' paths. From that, I concluded that a complicated, but viable solution might be to errata (or, in my case, houserule) the most potent paths so that the power gap with the rest wasn't as large. The downside was the list of paths to change was sizable: around two dozen. On the other hand, since the next best thing would be to upgrade the remaining 400 paths, I guess we are stuck with that.
You can see my list of broken items below. I think all of them are prone to abuse or otherwise broken, even if some aren't too popular in the optimization community. Also, I've left behind some very strong options that nevertheless felt fair (most notably, Kensai). The table is missing an explanation for the cause of brokenness, but don't worry - I'll provide in-depth discussion, as well as fixes, in upcoming posts. Note that no material from Dragon magazines has been included; I'll add that in a future update.


  1. You just posted an excellent overview of MM3, which had all of its monsters upgraded to be more threatening. I can't help but feel this is -because- most of the playerbase is taking "strong" options, and Wizards is already reacting to it.

    I therefore doubt there will be any errata, or need for it, as you have said the PHB itself contains many strong elements there has been no power creep; I also notice Daggermaster and Pitfighter are absent, even as they are themselves extremely strong PHB elements.

  2. While it is true that the monster power-up in MM3 is a reaction to an imbalance in power between players and monsters, I'm not sure it's directly related to players optimizing their characters. In fact, I think monsters were already lagging behind even against average parties.

    Talking from personal experience, my group is by no means optimized - we don't bother much about equipment, and none of our PCs have Iron Armbands of Power, or any other kind of item bonus to damage, for example. Having a bunch of casual players, I've personally built most of the characters, and they are all functional, but not all that fine tuned. Some of the players often play on auto-pilot, spamming at-wills and eating snacks, without caring much for unspent encounters. And we even try out frequently many of the house rules that come up in this blog - which more often than not are nerfs, like my revisions of fighter stances, Come and Get it, or Rangers in general.

    I've explained this to put the following in perspective: we are playing through Wizards official adventure path (H1, H2 and H3), and have got to the end of heroic tier with a party that typically has four PCs, and sometimes as few as three. And we routinely keep up with encounters 1 or 2 levels above. Hell, most of the time we tear through them! We are the opposite of hardcore, we find the game easy, and we haven't even got to the allegedly easiest tiers, when the PCs overpower monsters even more. We could definitely use the MM3 adjustments. So I don't think they automatically imply that Wizards has given up to optimizers.

    Ok, end of long rant. With all that said, I think there is a trend on recent errata to focus on the strongest paragon paths, and it will probably continue. Will it be as far-reaching as I suggest? No way! But they'll probably keep adjusting paths, a few at a time.

    Look at Daggermaster and Pit Fighter and they recent updates. They weren't changed as much as I would have liked to, but they did succeed at cutting off the access to other classes, where they were arguably most effective. And although they are still terrific paths for their classes, the loss of basic attacks hurts them. Now, I've been arguing back and forth on several forums that these paths haven't been crippled by the update, but there are a few extremely effective tactics that no longer work as well, from charging to triggering extra (basic) attacks. So I'm giving them the benefit of doubt, even if I'd rather have additional restrictions for their features (say, a 1/turn clause for Pit Fighter, and a CA requirement for Daggermaster).

    However, none of this is set in stone. I've even made some last minute changes to the list, as I was posting this. So if anybody has a strong feeling about elements that should or shouldn't be on the list, feel free to comment :)

  3. I do not think many of the PPs mentioned are overpowered.
    - Astral Vibrance from the Angelic Avenger only affects bloodied targets, so only useful less than half the time.
    - The Hospitaler's Blessing will not trigger if the monsters and the DMs are smart. Divine Challenge does not trigger either, so not much difference.
    - Phase Focus from the Celestial Scholar is not that great, because the rangeis really small. If he wants to be so near to enemies, he will pay the price.
    - The same is true for Messenger of Peace, only the aura is weaker.
    - The First Hunter's ability Spear's Master only brings Basic Attacks up to At-Will level, so I do not consider it strong. The Hunters Together is nice, but it requires a hit from the ally as well.
    While Stormwarden and Pit Fighter need (further) nerfing, some you mentioned are in par with or even inferior to Kensei for example. In my opinion.

  4. Sorry for the confusion, I should have re-read it before sending