Author Topic: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5  (Read 1108 times)

Offline nijineko

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I have analyzed 3.5 and found hidden equivalencies, which apply across the board, and when used allow one to roughly compare overall meta-value between different creatures, classes, items, and abilities. This breakdown can be applied to every aspect of the stat block. This comparison is better and more granular than CR, but is still an approximate. That advantage of the KDS system, however, is that it can be used to compare ANY ability, even powers or spells or supernatural or extraordinary effects, and extract a rough meta-value which allows the potential power to be compared to almost any other aspect of the game.

Why is it still rough? The hidden equivalencies mean that almost all aspects of the game can be converted to the same unit. In mathematical terms, this should mean that if a=b, and b=c, then c must = a. However, this is D&D math (pun intended). So sadly, even within the exact same unit in D&D, there are differences in overall meta-value of the various units. Thus, even after converting all aspects of the game to the same unit, there is still the internal high value and low value within the actual units. If a more knowledgeable person who also happens to have more free time than myself were to take interest in this, perhaps the inaccuracies could be reduced, or even eliminated.

The high level overview of the process as used to compare CR* between targets is as follows:
  • Extract the Hidden Equivalency Value from the source target.
  • Convert the HEV to KDS, which stands for Kobold Death Squad - or in other words, the number of 1st level non-classed kobolds it would take to match the potential meta-value. In other words the HEV value of said single Kobold is set to 1 KDS.
  • Extract the HEV of the comparison target.
  • Convert the HEV to KDS.
  • Compare the two.
  • Add creatures until the KDS values are equal. This should equal an actual challenge for the party/character.

*Note that for non-CR comparisons, the raw HEV can be used to compare, skipping the conversion to KDS.

***

For example, let's compare a kobold to the standard default party. The scenario is that the party was investigating a cave, and were non-lethally captured and knocked out by the cunning food-catching traps of the itinerant kobolds. They were divested of their offensive and defensive equipment and 'secured' in another cave. The kobolds are debating what to do next. The party escapes and found the wizard's spellbook, but have not found their equipment yet.

For purposes of this comparison, the PHB shall be used as the source for the party information instead of the Monster Manual (as some of the races are in the MM1 as well as PHB). The kobold is drawn from the sample classed warrior in the MM1. This comparison does not include equipment (except for the wizard's spellbook), only racial and class abilities. Average stats are used for the kobold as per the MM1, elite stats (flattened) are used for the party.

My initial calculation of the HEV of an individual kobold warriro is 14. This converts to a KDS of 1.

The party calculations are:
A pre-class human is 5.
A pre-class elf is 12
A pre-class halfling is 9
A pre-class dwarf is 8
A level 1 cleric is 16 (without equipment, but with standard and domain spells available)
A level 1 wizard is 28 (without equipment, but with spells memorized and spellbook)
A level 1 rogue is 10 (without equipment)
A level 1 fighter is 15 (without equipment)
This gives a party total HEV of 103

Convert the HEV of the party to KDS and the result is 7.357....

Thus, it should actually take about 7-8 kobold warriors with equipment to provide a serious challenge to a generic standard first level party without most of their equipment, compared to the listed default 1/4th CR in the MM1. If the party has their equipment, then their HEV will shift up by about 20-40 depending on equipment selected. It will also increase their HEV and lower the kobold's HEV if they manage to obtain the kobold's weapons....

I used this scenario to demonstrate the fine-tuned nature of the KDS system, but it needs a lot of work. I wonder if anyone else is curious about it and would be interested in more details?

Offline Jackinthegreen

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2020, 10:54:35 PM »
Could you give an explanation for finding a given creature's HEV?  For example, how did you find those numbers for the human, elf, halfling, and dwarf?

The CR comparison is one thing, but the class and race comparison is likely where most of us are going to be interested.

Offline nijineko

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2020, 10:36:29 AM »
Could you give an explanation for finding a given creature's HEV?  For example, how did you find those numbers for the human, elf, halfling, and dwarf?

The CR comparison is one thing, but the class and race comparison is likely where most of us are going to be interested.

Certainly.

I realized that almost all abilities and metrics in D&D can actually be represented by a single "unit". In other words, one of the aspects of the stat block actually duplicates and thus can represent or be equivalent to almost all if not all of the others entries in the stat block. This allows all of the other stats to be 'converted' into 'units' of that specific aspect. That 'unit' is feats. However, there are many different kinds of feats: low level prereqs versus high level prereqs, waste-of-time feats versus value-added feats, epic versus non-epic. Thus the "roughness" of the conversion and comparison.

The key concepts involved are that a) the effect of every ability is replicated in a feat (or more than one feat) somewhere in the game, and b) that feats can be converted into GP value based on the rule given in the A&EG - which gives us two methods for calculating the worth of powers, spells, and items - one based on the number of feats it takes to replicate the end effect as described above, and two based on the gp value of the item compared to the gp value of the feats. 

Thus the Hidden Equivalency Value represents how many feats it takes to duplicate as closely as possible any given specific ability. This represents the "potential" weight of a given character or monster, but can even compare an item, power, spell, or special ability. Obviously some feats are more effective than others, thus converting abilities to feats can only represent the potential value of that ability.

For the v0.1 KDS, I have been ignoring the difference between epic and non-epic feats, and only looking at the end result of number of feats. Also, it is quite probable that I've missed details. One that occurred to me today is that I failed to account for the weapon and armor proficiency of the kobold warriors, since I believe the MM1 states somewhere that monsters are considered proficient with any equipment listed in the stat block? Here is a partial table I have constructed, and hope that others can help improve:

BABepic prowess+1 to attack
Fortgreat fortitude+2 to fort (luck of heroes adds +1 to all saves)
Reflightning reflexes+2 to reflex (luck of heroes adds +1 to all saves)
Williron will+2 to will (luck of heroes adds +1 to all saves)
Skill pointsopen minded or Acrobatic5 skill points per feat OR 4 skill point equivalents per feat
light armorarmor proficiency lightgain proficiency with selected equipment
medium armorarmor proficiency mediumgain proficiency with selected equipment
heavy armorarmor proficiency heavygain proficiency with selected equipment
shieldshield proficiencygain proficiency with selected equipment
tower shieldtower shield proficiencygain proficiency with selected equipment
simple weaponssimple weapon proficiencygain proficiency with selected equipment
martial weaponsmartial weapon proficiencygain proficiency with selected equipment
exotic weaponsexotic weapon proficiencygain proficiency with selected equipment
unarmed attacksimproved unarmed strikegain proficiency with body as a weapon
ACdodge+1 to AC
natural armorimproved natural armor+1 to natural armor
initiative fire heritage or guerrilla scout+1 to initiative
critical threatimproved criticalx2 crit threat range (find better one?)
HPtoughness+3 hit points
iterative attackrapid fireextra attack
spellcasting abilitymagical traininggain spellcasting and 3 cantrips, cast as sorcerer or wiz (you choose)
spellextra spellgain extra spell known
spell slotextra slotgain extra casting slot
gaining higher level spellcastingimproved spell capacityepic, grants one higher level of spellcasting
powerexpanded knowledgegain extra power known
power pointswild talent or hidden talentgain psionic ability and +2 pp
psionic abilitywild talent or hidden talentgain psionic ability and +2 pp
gaining higher level manifestingimproved manifestingepic, grants one higher level of manifesting
Character feat counts as one feat
Character statsee specific stats
Strgreat strength+1 to stat
Congreat consititution+1 to stat
Dexgreat dexterity+1 to stat
Intgreat intelligence+1 to stat
Wisgreat wisdom+1 to stat
Chagreat charisma+1 to stat
HD???typically overridden by 1st class level, at least for humanoids.
magic item slotsadditional magic item space epic feat
flyborn flyerfly
tramplecentaur trampletrample
pouncecatfolk pouncepounce
speedspeed of thought+10' movement speed
lifespanextended life spanadds one half, thus two of these feats are equivalent to the age of any given creature – since all creatures have this, don’t bother including
spontaneous castingspontaneous/healer/wounder/summonerswap out a spell

This table needs to be expanded to cover more things... for example the feats from Lords of Madness could cover abomination type monsters, and so forth.

Using this table, we can break down all (or most) of D&D into feats and feat equivalents (for example, some class features or monster abilities might take more than one feat to replicate the effect) and this gives us a rough basis for comparing the potential power of any given aspect of the game: creatures, characters, classes, items, powers, spells, special abilities, and so on. Obviously, this comparison is not perfect, nor is it especially precise. I feel that it is more precise than the current CR system, and thus has value.

One thing I am unclear on is that where there are multiple feats that replicate a given ability, is it better to go with the feat that has the high number, or the feat that has the low number? For example, improved initiative grants +4, but another feats grants +1 - which would be the better representation for the value? Is +1 init worth a feat, or is +4 the better representation of the worth? And so on and so forth for every one that has multiple differing numbers.

In any case, the HEV (Hidden Equivalency Value) is simply the total number of feats that a given thing represents. In the case of Wizard level 1, I came up with a value of 28 feats worth of stuff. The fighter level 1, I came up with 15 feats worth of stuff. And so on. The PC race values were taken from the PHB since I was planning on adding the class anyway. I could convert a power or spell or item into HEV as well using this method. Since I came up with 14 for the Kobold warrior, I set that as equal to 1 KDS (Kobold Death Squad). Why kobolds? It's kind of a tradition in D&D, from Tucker's Koblolds down to Meep, it's the best representation, I feel. And it's funny, at least to me. ^^

So, here is the framework, I welcome feedback.


PS: It may be of interest that the 2nd level of fighter has an HEV of 6, and the 2nd level of Wizard has an HEV of 7 (plus new spells found AND copied into spellbook, again not counting equipment owned or treasure found in my base calculations). I find it interesting that the KDS system I have envisioned numerically demonstrates the increasing gap between caster types and non caster types....
« Last Edit: August 25, 2020, 12:05:46 PM by nijineko »

Offline altpersona

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2020, 12:59:27 PM »
MM1 : is it Shadow that notoriously kills everything else in the book (rounded up)? whats its rating?

what are the extreme 'ends' of the spectrum?

Human Commoner 1? (Truenamer)

rates for classic challenges?

nice work btw
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Offline nijineko

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2020, 03:16:47 PM »
MM1 : is it Shadow that notoriously kills everything else in the book (rounded up)? whats its rating?

Analyzing the medium shadow = HEV of over 41...! (and that is without the undead traits, the incorporeality, or turn resistance added in, because I do not have time to look up and calculate right now. 17 of that is directly from the Spawn Shadow ability!) Mind you, this is a rough calculation done in haste. It's probably quite a bit higher than that. I think this showcases the imperfections in my system, since some of those special abilities have additional value in the sense that as the previously postulated sample 1st level party cannot be expected to deal with an incorporeal undead successfully without special equipment. However, as this is not a final value, I guess I'll have to see. I suspect that some things should possibly be flagged as special cases, and I need to carefully consider to make sure I'm extracting all the effects of a given ability, such as invisibility or incorporealness or immunities.

Quote
what are the extreme 'ends' of the spectrum?


I don't know, I would need help analyzing likely candidates. Though your commoner (without truename) would likely be near the bottom end.

Quote
Human Commoner 1? (Truenamer)

I don't have time to look up or calculate the Truenamer part, but the Commoner level one adds 2 HEV to the race.

Quote
rates for classic challenges?

Any specific examples in mind?

Quote
nice work btw

Thank you very much!
« Last Edit: August 25, 2020, 03:23:12 PM by nijineko »

Offline altpersona

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2020, 03:33:53 PM »
I was citing Human Commoner 1 as leastest value :D

I  cant think of specific challenge items... thumb is broken typing/searching is out for a few days.
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Offline Stratovarius

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2020, 04:05:24 PM »
Since Truenamers have been brought up, how would this system deal with cases of high level optimisation such as reassembling skull talismans, given that it's somewhat impossible to know the strength without knowing the frequency of usage.

Offline nijineko

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2020, 08:07:57 PM »
Since Truenamers have been brought up, how would this system deal with cases of high level optimisation such as reassembling skull talismans, given that it's somewhat impossible to know the strength without knowing the frequency of usage.

One of two methods, and I'm not sure which would give a more "accurate" HEV.
  • Calculate the HEV purely by duplicating the end effects. (this is how I roughly guesstimated the Shadow's Create Spawn ability, which will need to be revisited as I feel it is likely too low.)
  • Calculate the GP value of the end effect (especially for items) and then convert the GP into HEV.

I'll have to respond in more detail at a later time, but feel free to keep the questions piling up!

Offline nijineko

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2020, 10:19:54 AM »
To expand upon the example, of the Shadow's Create Spawn ability, this is the rough approximation I used:

  • Magical Training (for ability to cast a summon spell)
  • Improved Spell Capacity x4 (to raise the level of the available slot to 5th, the level of the summon shadow spell)
  • Extra Slot (to represent the 5th level slot)
  • Improved Spell Capacity x8 (to raise the level of available slots to 13th, the level required for innate spell
  • Extra Slot (to represent the 13th level slot consumed by innate spell)
  • Innate Spell (to convert it to spell like ability)
  • Assume Supernatural Ability (to represent the conversion of spell like to supernatural-is there a better one out there?)
...which should be 17.

However, after contemplating it for a bit, there are still two problems. I have successfully represented the Spawn ability by modelling it after the closest related summon spell, as well as found a way to represent it being a supernatural ability. However, a summon is short duration, while a spawn is an actual created creature with a lifespan, and one that they have control over....

Thus adding in the Leadership feat to represent the "control" factor should cover that aspect, which would be 18.

For the potential lifespan... I'm thinking the only way to represent it would be to stack on a bunch of Extend Spell feats until the duration hits some arbitrary number? Potentially speaking, undead aren't given a solid lifespan duration, though in some obscure sources I've read that there actually is one. So, say something like 1 year? 10 years? 100 years? I'm not sure what would be the best way to represent creating another creature in this case.

However, I do feel that the potential durability of the creature should be represented somewhat in the HEV. Summon Monster 5 has a minimum duration of 9 rounds, so Extend it, and then Persist it for +2 HEV, and then each extend after that will double it... 9 more of those and you are over one year in duration if my poor math skills serve? That would be a total of +11 HEV. for over 1 year of lifespan. Another +7 HEV will net one 179.55... years of life in total. So, another +18 in total to potentially represent a lifespan of almost 100 years, however, all those metamagic feats would also boost the required spell slot level, so in theory that should also be calculated in as well.

17 extends increase the spell slot by 17, and the Persist increases by 8, if I recall correctly, so 13+17+8 is 38th level slot. so 15 more Improved Spell Capacity and one more Extra slot to hold it, and the total should be 52 HEV for the Create Spawn ability, a big difference, and probably a better representation of the *potential* danger of such an ability. This all assumes that the math in my head was done accurately - if not please feel free to correct me.

Anyone have a better solution to modeling this ability into HEV?
« Last Edit: August 26, 2020, 10:24:10 AM by nijineko »

Offline ketaro

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2020, 03:07:40 PM »
The lifespan of undead adding to their total seems far unnecessary. The only time, i recall, lifespan correlates to a creatures strength directly is for true dragons. Undead only count indirectly and only if they are living long enough to get the evolved undead template which requires 100 years.

If a spawn lives 1 year or 1 round its no more or less dangerous.

Grading things by their potential future abuse versus their current power will only derail your already rough estimates.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2020, 03:09:24 PM by ketaro »

Offline nijineko

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2020, 04:15:56 PM »
The lifespan of undead adding to their total seems far unnecessary. The only time, i recall, lifespan correlates to a creatures strength directly is for true dragons. Undead only count indirectly and only if they are living long enough to get the evolved undead template which requires 100 years.

If a spawn lives 1 year or 1 round its no more or less dangerous.

Grading things by their potential future abuse versus their current power will only derail your already rough estimates.

That is a good point. I was using lifespan as a representation of the fact that a summon only lasts for a few rounds, but a real creature can last for a lot longer, and in the case of shadows, they are creating a new creature more or less.

What do you feel would be a better method?

Offline ketaro

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2020, 04:29:20 PM »
Demons can summon other demons with no time limit. Just compare it to gate if you must. Albeit slightly less than gate as it requires actually having to kill someone who may be actively fighting back or escaping thus possibly not guaranteeing gaining a new spawn.

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2020, 04:20:50 AM »
interesting discussion

For your shadow issue, maybe use "create greater undead" instead of a summoning spell, thought I admit that using a 8th level spell for that seems a bit too much, it might represent this function the best (and you'll have no problem with duration that way).
If there's a mistake in my post please let me know.

Offline nijineko

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2020, 09:40:02 AM »
interesting discussion

For your shadow issue, maybe use "create greater undead" instead of a summoning spell, thought I admit that using a 8th level spell for that seems a bit too much, it might represent this function the best (and you'll have no problem with duration that way).

Ah, even better! I am less familiar with spells, since I only use psionics - thank you. I think this suggestion is the best so far. Well, I'm not sure it's too much, actually, as the Create Spawn ability is very powerful. Like all things, situational details make or break it, so this HEV representation can only represent a rough estimation of power. Still better than CR, I feel.

Offline nijineko

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2020, 09:28:27 PM »
Could you give an explanation for finding a given creature's HEV?  For example, how did you find those numbers for the human, elf, halfling, and dwarf?

The CR comparison is one thing, but the class and race comparison is likely where most of us are going to be interested.

Okay, going into more detail:

The process is pretty simple overall. I find a feat that grants the same end result as a given attribute. For example, a stat bonus can be duplicated by an epic feat, there is one that grants a +1 for every stat. Thus each plus one to a stat can be considered equal to one feat. There is a feat which grants a plus two to a saving throw - thus the +2 bonus at first level many classes get to a saving throw is worth a feat. There is also a feat which grants +1 to all saving throws. Thus every two levels or so, all classes get a plus one in all saving throws and that's worth one more feat. A class that grants proficiency with weapons or armor are the same as getting the appropriate feats, so those are all worth feats too. And so forth. Every four or five skill points is worth a feat (based on the skill bonus and/or skill point granting feats I've found so far, so skill ranks and bonuses to skills can be equated to feats as well.

So all classes and races can effectively be broken down into feats, a fact which was hidden in plain sight in D&D. I'm not aware of any statements before now comparing class levels or monster racial levels to a collection of feats, but I could be wrong. Thus the "hidden equivalency value" or HEV is just how many feats it takes to replicate a given level of class, or level of monster HD, or even a spell or magic item or psionic power or any other special effect. Almost all of them, if not all, can be broken down into feat equivalents.

Whether it is points of damage that an effect does, or which ability it affects, or ability damage, or something else, there is a way to break it down into feats. And if that doesn't work, feats cost about 10,000gp plus 5-10k more in gp per prereq, which allows one to build the effect using a magic item and then converting the cost over into the equivalent of feats... so I'm pretty sure everything can be converted into feats, or in theory, GP cost if one wants to go that route for comparison instead.

I'm sure that my estimations and calculations are off somewhat, as I'm still honing and refining the system, finding feats that duplicate various class and racial features and so forth. Hence it being v0.1. That's party why I'm hoping that other will take an interest and lend a hand in their areas of interest.

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2020, 02:48:21 AM »
What updates do you have on this system for us at present?

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2020, 11:32:20 AM »
What updates do you have on this system for us at present?

There doesn't seem to be too much interest in the system as a whole, probably too little too late, poor timing, or something.

Also I haven't yet brainstormed a method to address satisfactorily the drastic disparity of values in feats, though it has occurred to me to break complex feats down into simper feats... but even then, a +1 in a skill is not the same thing as a +1 to a stat, nor to a combat metric.

furthermore, even if I do manage to find true equivalencies across the board within game context, the way people play is so varied that the value of the system may be diluted to different degrees based on play styles.

So other than the base concepts above, I don't have much more that I'm ready to share at this point.

do you have any suggestions or insights, by chance?

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2020, 06:27:02 PM »
What updates do you have on this system for us at present?

There doesn't seem to be too much interest in the system as a whole, probably too little too late, poor timing, or something.

Also I haven't yet brainstormed a method to address satisfactorily the drastic disparity of values in feats, though it has occurred to me to break complex feats down into simper feats... but even then, a +1 in a skill is not the same thing as a +1 to a stat, nor to a combat metric.

furthermore, even if I do manage to find true equivalencies across the board within game context, the way people play is so varied that the value of the system may be diluted to different degrees based on play styles.

So other than the base concepts above, I don't have much more that I'm ready to share at this point.

do you have any suggestions or insights, by chance?

You seem to have touched on what's likely to be an ongoing struggle with this system. Feats aren't equal, so saying something is "worth a feat" could be a huge range of power. Weapon Focus says +1 to attack with one weapon is worth a feat, but Divine Metamagic (Persist) says that fundamentally altering how spell durations work is worth...a feat. Any atomic building block you use to quantify power within the game is bound to boil down to some sort of arbitrary assignment, since fundamentally the game is split between "things that make numbers go up" and "things that let you use your best numbers for more things"

Even splitting it like that, a single spell level of a cleric gets ACCESS to a stupid amount of spells, many if not most of which are more versatile than a fighter feat that gives you access to a new way to use your grapple check.
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Offline nijineko

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2021, 12:03:21 PM »
Even splitting it like that, a single spell level of a cleric gets ACCESS to a stupid amount of spells, many if not most of which are more versatile than a fighter feat that gives you access to a new way to use your grapple check.

Right? That is indeed my point. An added spell known is worth one feat on the arcane side. But a single level of cleric or druid nets you every 1st and 0 level divine spell known to each class in the game, other than alignment conflict types, based on how the magic system works. That's like a hundred or more feat equivalents at first level. And since an extra spell slot is worth a feat each, that's plus one for every daily cast. If nothing else it makes clear the disparity between power levels in SFX and non-SFX types.

As a side comment, I feel that Powers should only be able to grant the spells listed in their domains and nothing else. It would give pantheons a reason for existing from a mortal perspective as well as a reason for addressing the pantheon as a whole, since a pantheon would represent an alliance of Powers which makes the entire spells known pool available to all the assorted mortal minions... unless there is internal conflicts in the pantheon, of course - which would make for interesting story.

Offline Samwise

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Re: KDS v0.1 - more accurate CR and holistic meta-value comparison in 3.5
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2021, 04:05:46 PM »
So all classes and races can effectively be broken down into feats, a fact which was hidden in plain sight in D&D. I'm not aware of any statements before now comparing class levels or monster racial levels to a collection of feats, but I could be wrong.

I know of one, in "Modern Player's Companion", by Stan! (Steven Brown).
It is written for D20 Modern, but I expect the principles are equally valid for "D20" D&D (aka, 3.5).

It is a bit long, so spoilered.

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