Max level for ECL races

A place to suggest new commands, feats, skills, ...
Vaemar
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 665
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:21 am

Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:55 pm

ECL sucks. This is a no-brainer. Even in tabletop it sucks, but I would dare say in FK it sucks even more.

In fact in tabletop at least ecl races can still achieve the highest available level as non-ecl races do, although at a higher experience cost.
You can read it clearly at page 21 of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for the 3rd edition. In fact, while some races are more powerful than others, in the end being unable to attain max level is much worse than any bonus the race provides. Because with levels also come feats, bonus feats, spells per day, base attack bonus and hit points.

Also Neverwinter Nights 2 that had the various ECL races of Forgotten Realms used a similar system, where ECL races still could get to the highest level available, but for a higher experience cost. Check here if you don't believe it: http://nwn2.wikia.com/wiki/Character_progression

It is worth mentioning also that most of these races have actually very huge maluses like spell resistance (which is 90% of the time a hindrance rather than an advantage), being stuck in the Underdark or being barred from the most developed areas and thus quests (and thus magic items and glory rewards) and you have got a very bleak picture for these "more powerful" races.

In the end playing these races has the feeling of playing not only a difficult character to raise, as it is right by the way, but leaves at the end the feeling of having a subpar underpowered character who cannot really be compared to those of the "less powerful" races.

So in short the proposal is to let everybody, regardless of their ECL, reach level 50, but with a higher cost, as in tabletop and in other games that implemented D&d 3.x ruleset.

Areia
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 482
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2016 11:11 pm

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Areia » Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:29 pm

I don't really play races who have a higher ECL than char level, mostly because I don't have the time to level them at any rate which feels comfortable for me. So I have no opinion on the general suggestion to allow these races to reach 50th char level regardless of ECL. I wanted to respond to some things you noted, however.
Vaemar wrote: It is worth mentioning also that most of these races have actually very huge maluses like spell resistance (which is 90% of the time a hindrance rather than an advantage), being stuck in the Underdark or being barred from the most developed areas and thus quests (and thus magic items and glory rewards) and you have got a very bleak picture for these "more powerful" races.
SR really is a big pain at times, lol. But I think about bringing my spellcasters to the UD, Alaron, etc. or involving them in PvP spars with drow PCs, and I can't agree that it's more a hinderence, especially at higher levels.

As for being stuck underground, well, that is just part of the race. And while the UD might not have as many cities, quest areas, and what have you, I've seen in recent memory several new and very well-done areas added and changes made down there. I think this point is more a matter-of-time thing, where eventually the UD will be just as populated as the surface. It's a newer section of the world map, so it's only natural that the older sections (i.e., the surface) will be more widely implemented.
Vaemar wrote: In the end playing these races has the feeling of playing not only a difficult character to raise, as it is right by the way, but leaves at the end the feeling of having a subpar underpowered character who cannot really be compared to those of the "less powerful" races.
Definitely difficult. But subpar, maybe not. Sure, they might be worse at some things than other races, but I've also seen huge strengths in drow and orc PCs that most humans and the like couldn't achieve. In the three inter-racial combat tournaments I've watched or been a part of since joining FK, the drow has come out on top or very nearly so, even when it's a noncaster fighting casters; orcs seem to be able to just hack there way through many things like nobody's business, and at lower levels than some other PCs might be able to keep up; etc.

I mean to say, my observations (not first-hand experience) don't allow me to agree that these races are currently worse off, on the whole, than races without ECL modifiers.

Thanks for reading!
Nascentes morimur, finisque ab origine pendet.

Vaemar
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 665
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:21 am

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:22 pm

Well, I have played drow and svirfnebli extensively and I can safely say that having tested exactly the same build of character both on a drow and on a halfdrow, the halfdrow comes out much stronger. I bet the same could be true to an extent also for full orcs vs halforcs.

As for spell resistance, I can count on the fingers of one hand the times my characters have resisted a hostile spell, while I have lost count of how many times they botched boons being casted on them. I remember once my character was being cut to ribbons in melee and she resisted the healing spells or the stone skin cast upon her. Another time she was dying from poisoning and she resisted the cure poison of the npc healer. The list can go on almost endlessly.

About being stuck in the UD you said right it is part of the races and it is on one hand nice. But the big difference in access to training, quests and glory available is indeed something worth mentioning. On my surface alts I have got over 70 glory without much effort at all, while with my drow and deep gnome I have not been able even to reach 50, including with top level characters.

But anyway it is not that being underpowered, or not comparable to non-ecl races, makes the races bad or anything. Otherwise I would not have spent 800+ hours playing them. ;) The rp and setting are simply fantastic and totally worth any malus or slow leveling.

But nonetheless ECL and in particular the level cap suck! :P

Yemin
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 1589
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:08 pm
Location: On the back of castle oblivion

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Yemin » Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:40 pm

I find that FK races with ECL don't have all the advantages stated in their tabletop versions so I'd be a fan of seeing ECL reduced overall for those races. Drow is the big one.

I think the reason ECL hampers max level because potentially, you can reach level 50 in a month, or ECL 55 and then it won't matter. Whereas in a tabletop game, ECL greatly affects your time. IN a campaign that e.g. you play once a week, you can go 6 months and only reach level 8 or 10.

To summarise, if Drow and other ECL races got more of their original benefits, I would say the ECL laid down at the moment would be worth the feat and stat point costs that they dont' get. But as is, faerie fire and Sr isn't worth +5 ECL in my book and is a big part of why I don't play them.

I'm not a big beleaver in ECL, later systems of dnd and pf do away with it without seemingly any negative consequences by pumping up the base race natural advantages.

Also, I should add, that a better way of handling spell resistance might be a config or combat mode. I don't know the official rules surrounding it in 3.5, in pf you can lower it as a standard action and keep it lowered but DMs usually let you lower and raise it whenever you like with no action because it's already a great hamper when enemies have it, it should serve to hamper them more than it does you when you have it.
I trained up double-edged bananas because the uber-plantain of doom I scored from the beehive quest was the best weapon in the game. Now it's being treated like a bug and they have gimped its damage! That's not fair! My character is ruined!

Vaemar
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 665
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:21 am

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:59 pm

Faerie fire is the most irrelevant ability in existence I bet. Deep gnomes have a little nicer one though.

Spell resistance as it is now is problematic and I would be strongly in favour of seeing it as a combat mode option, but... that is a whole different matter and I think should deserve its own thread.

In any case even if the races had the full benefits like in tabeltop and no locational disadvantages I would still be for having them reach level 50. It would simply be fair to have everybody reach the max level in my opinion, whether they are drow, deep gnomes, orcs, aasimars, tieflings or genasi.

By the way now that we are on topic there is an ecl race on FK that actually has no ecl: the forest gnome. I would add rightly so, since they don't seem to have any real advantage that grants it here.

User avatar
Talos
Staff
Staff
Posts: 2098
Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2003 2:20 am
Location: Olympus Mons

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Talos » Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:46 pm

What are the general thoughts on trading out spell resistance for a better ecl?
A goblin, a trickster, a warrior? A nameless terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. A most feared being in all the cosmos. Nothing could stop, hold, or reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.

Yemin
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 1589
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:08 pm
Location: On the back of castle oblivion

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Yemin » Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:17 pm

I don't play a race with Sr currently, but if it is as troublesome as has been mentioned it would be worth slapping drow down to an ECL of 2 or even just removing it all together, considering Aasimar and tiefling are +2 and they get 3 resistances and options of feats that grant them extra utility. Not to mention darkvision and no minus to their stats upon creation.

Though to clarify, are we talking about a complete race characteristic change. Or are we speaking of being able to trade out SR for a lower ECL if you are a caster vs keeping it for the higher ECL if you are a warrior type?
I trained up double-edged bananas because the uber-plantain of doom I scored from the beehive quest was the best weapon in the game. Now it's being treated like a bug and they have gimped its damage! That's not fair! My character is ruined!

Beskytter
Sword Master
Sword Master
Posts: 229
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:24 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Beskytter » Thu Apr 07, 2016 12:13 am

Personally I would nix the ECL system entirely and drop in racial bonus feats instead. It makes more code sense for a MUD in my eyes and would likely give more room for character development.

Drow might get 3 racial bonus feats that can be used for spell resistance and faerie fire, or any other feat, but they're spread out over 15 levels. So you can max up on SR if you really really really like SR and at level 45 (which would be ecl 50) you can have that sort of thing by dropping bonus feat points into it.

The main thing would be that those racial feats can only be bought with racial bonus points, but the points themselves can be used for any feat on the list. So if you expend the bonus points to buy toughness you cannot buy SR later on.
I'm a raptor, doin' what I can, gonna eat everything till he appearance of man. Yo yo see me, I'm living below the soil. I'll be back, but I'm comin' as oil.

Vaemar
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 665
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:21 am

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:25 am

Talos wrote:What are the general thoughts on trading out spell resistance for a better ecl?
For my drow and svirfneblin in particular I would happily trade spell resistance for the possibility to reach level 48. Because ecl +2 is something I guess one can live with somewhat decently, ecl +5 not so much. I also guess drow and deep gnomes would be somewhat on par with the planetouched as for power if one took away their spell resistance.

But this is an answer I give basing on mechanics and on the many issues I have had with spell resistance. In general, however, I find spell resistance a nice feature of these Underdark races, even, or perhaps especially, in its negative aspects. Drow had it even in the first edition D&d, although it was suggested to avoid giving it to player characters of this race for a series of reasons (see page 10 of the first edition of Unearthed Arcana). Deep gnomes on the other hand had spell resistance in fiend folio, as monsters, but lacked it completely as player characters. Duergar, oddly enough, never had it in the first edition, but since they are not playable here it is moot point.

On top of that in the Player's Guide to Faerun there is the proposal of non-ecl lesser versions of the Underdark races who do not have spell resistance as well as most of the stat bonuses. These races do receive some minor bonuses in saving throws against spells to emulate spell resistance in some way. So there are definitely more than a few bases for a move in that direction.

Let me be clear anyway, I don't like ECL in any incarnation of it and in particular in FK I don't think ECL does anybody any good.

Vaemar
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 665
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:21 am

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Fri Apr 08, 2016 9:25 pm

Making some more cold thoughts about the spell res for lower ecl trade and I must say I have mixed feelings.

I personally live spell resistance on my Underdark races more as a disadvantage than an advantage, since on one hand it tends to come in action when helpful spells are cast upon or by my characters and on the other hand my characters are not exactly charging headlong into hostile spellcasters, preferring to stick to less dangerous targets.

So I would definitely say yes to trade spell resistance for a better ecl, provided deep gnomes and drow could get to level 48 and get that last feat, which is definitely needed for some character classes. It would practically mean, from my point of view, trading a disadvantage for an advantage, so it would be win-win. Not to mention new characters would be able to reach higher level more easily and the playerbase for these races would increase, which would definitely be needed for these rather isolationist races.

Where is the problem then? Well, the setting and the atmosphere. As I said these creatures since the first editions of D&d were presented as dangerous races resistant to magic due to the effect of the radiations of the Underdark. It is true however that there has always been some reticence to give the same feature to player characters of these races, keeping it more for npc mostly. But I do like the fact of having spell resistance as a double-edged sword for these races, something that can be on one hand helpful and on the other a problem they need to learn to work around and live with. It makes the gameplay, and hence the rp derived from it, more flavourful.

To sum it up, I would in the end agree to trade spell resistance for ecl +2 but I would still prefer my initial proposal to keep ecl modifiers as they are now but to let every race be able to reach level 50, including both orcs and planetouched.

I find also that the idea of trading better ecl for spell resistance would still be worth discussing, as said above, but not necessarily related to the max level for all races. First because in fact it concerns only drow and svirfnebli and second because slow leveling, again as mentioned above, is still something that turns away many players from these races, which is a pity because their setting is awesome.

Vaemar
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 665
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:21 am

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Sat Apr 16, 2016 5:06 pm

Uhm, I don't feel too well in posting twice after my last post, but I have come up with further thoughts.

How does it sound like this?
-Swap current spell resistance for general magical resistance like dwarves and/or a bonus to saves against spells and something along the same lines for planetouched and their resistances.
-Abolish ECL once and for all.

Yemin
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 1589
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:08 pm
Location: On the back of castle oblivion

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Yemin » Sat Apr 16, 2016 7:39 pm

On the surface it looks fine but those things aren't comparable mechanically to be justified as interchangeable.

Saves effect more than just magic and these races have no basis to be more resistant to e.g. spike trap vs reflex or disease vs fort.

As for elemental resistances, it will end up being more work in the future to keep updating these races when / if we get new spells with new damage types. Not to mention that the code that handles getting past spell resistance will become redundant entirely if a race is given for example, +5 fire resist, / reduction instead of straight spell resistance.

The sentiment is a good one but I can't get behind it because each mechanic is built for a purpose in dnd. Replacing them with others always leads to unintended consequences. It's usually much better in the long run to fix the issues with the original mechanic.
I trained up double-edged bananas because the uber-plantain of doom I scored from the beehive quest was the best weapon in the game. Now it's being treated like a bug and they have gimped its damage! That's not fair! My character is ruined!

Rordan
Sword Journeyman
Sword Journeyman
Posts: 111
Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2014 12:39 am
Contact:

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Rordan » Mon Apr 18, 2016 7:53 pm

Talos wrote:What are the general thoughts on trading out spell resistance for a better ecl?

No. Please god no. I understand there are frustrations with the way spell resistance works and how it resists both positive and negative spells, but it's no different than having anti-magic shell on you. It's also the hallmark of the underdark races. Getting rid of it takes a small part of being an underdark race and destroys it.

Turning it into feats would be more problematic than it's worth. It means that the underdark races lose more feats than they gain from those 5 levels. It's not an even trade off!

I'd rather keep the ecl than lose the resistance or have it turned into feats.

Ungtar
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 478
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2014 7:28 pm

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Ungtar » Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:01 pm

Between 45 and 50 you get 1 feat and 1 stat point.

Seems the simplest thing to do would be to give level 45 underdark races 1 feat and 1 stat point either starting out or at the end or at the conclusion of a quest or something.

The increased difficulty in leveling from having the ECL was not an issue at all. And I haven't even spent all my stat points and feat points. (I rarely do, being the type to hold on to them in case I find something REALLY good.)

Areia
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 482
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2016 11:11 pm

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Areia » Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:12 pm

Ungtar wrote: Seems the simplest thing to do would be to give level 45 underdark races 1 feat and 1 stat point either starting out or at the end or at the conclusion of a quest or something.
If it's decided that ECL is too imbalancing (which I still don't agree with), this sounds like a very nice way to solve that problem.

But yes, I'm with the "Please god no" camp on the question of dropping SR for lower ECL. I think a lot of people really underestimate the power of SR, and I wouldn't personally enjoy not having it if I do ever decide to try to run one of these races longterm.
Nascentes morimur, finisque ab origine pendet.

Vaemar
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 665
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:21 am

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:12 pm

Ungtar wrote:The increased difficulty in leveling from having the ECL was not an issue at all.
I do share some of your feelings about the spell resistance, as expressed above by me as well, but I strongly disagree with ecl not being a problem in leveling. Just yesterday a player told me that were it not for the svirfneblin groups back then she would never have got out of Blingdenstone and personally I have had an extremely hard time in getting to level 10 or 16 with both my first drow and deep gnome. With my second drow things were much better, but those who are able to level at a decent speed are definitely outliers, and often veterans of the Underdark. I do believe that much more than feats the greatest issue of ecl is in fact that it has prevented many players from enjoying the setting down here, as well as preventing the growth of a nice playerbase for these races. I have really seen too many new drow and deep gnomes never make it out of the respective cities to be convinced otherwise.

I do believe that could be eased in part with the building of good areas to train for Underdark races, but only in part. There is hardly a workaround to the increased experience cost for basic skills or spells.

Ungtar
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 478
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2014 7:28 pm

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Ungtar » Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:24 pm

I have no idea how much spell resistance helps me. I have never had anyone try to cast a harmful spell on me. I do know that it is a real pain trying to heal or stoneskin someone in combat when they have it. Unlike antimagic shell, which doesn't seem to do much of anything at all (at least not at below journeyman skill level). I haven't even been sure the shell spell works.

I probably wouldn't have made it as a deep gnome either without those groups, but that was why we organized them. Now there's a pretty good deep gnome community of 3-4 active peeps where there wasn't before. I wish we could also do the same for goblins and orcs.

The reality is that there isn't a huge playerbase and probably less who have an interest in playing a deep race. Particularly one as restrictive as deep gnomes or drow. They are extremely limited in what they can legitimately do without the risk of someone slapping your head.

Areia
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 482
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2016 11:11 pm

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Areia » Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:33 pm

Ungtar wrote: Unlike antimagic shell, which doesn't seem to do much of anything at all (at least not at below journeyman skill level). I haven't even been sure the shell spell works.
It has the same benefits and drawbacks as the races' SR. It does take about fifty tons of work to get it to where it does actually do anything noticeable, though. :)

But anyway
Nascentes morimur, finisque ab origine pendet.

Yemin
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 1589
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:08 pm
Location: On the back of castle oblivion

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Yemin » Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:36 pm

First and last drow I made was a rogue, I spent some 3 weeks before making it to level 8, ECL 13. And that was with the occasional help of other drow.

Went from the moss beds to try out the students at the school and died to a single punch after considering and seeing that the NPC should be manageable at my level.

And that was the end of my drow experiment. I didn't even have the energy to call to get raised.

In the end, it's likely I may not have played him much since I have a high rate of intolerance for the gross stamina drain in the underdark but we'll never know.
I trained up double-edged bananas because the uber-plantain of doom I scored from the beehive quest was the best weapon in the game. Now it's being treated like a bug and they have gimped its damage! That's not fair! My character is ruined!

Ungtar
Sword Grand Master
Sword Grand Master
Posts: 478
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2014 7:28 pm

Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Ungtar » Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:18 pm

I don't like drow so I've never really gotten into one. I do like svirfs though but I'm somewhat torn on the experience.

They are a lot of fun, a very tight community, and a nice, well-built city just for them.

The downsides are being tied down to the Underdark where there is, realistically, just not a lot going on.

Post Reply