Max level for ECL races

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Yemin
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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Yemin » Thu Apr 28, 2016 1:05 pm

This is rules lawyering of the highest degree. Watch as I work my magic.
DnDtools wrote:SCHOOL SPECIALIZATION
A school is one of eight groupings of spells, each defined by a common theme, such as illusion or necromancy. If desired, a wizard may specialize in one school of magic (see below). Specialization allows a wizard to cast extra spells from her chosen school, but she then never learns to cast spells from some other schools. Essentially, the wizard gains exceptional mastery over a single school by neglecting the study of other schools.
A specialist wizard can prepare one additional spell of her specialty school per spell level each day. She also gains a +2 bonus on Spellcraft checks to learn the spells of her chosen school (see Adding Spells to a Wizard's Spellbook, page 178).
The wizard must choose whether to specialize and, if she does so, choose her specialty at 1st level. At this time, she must also give up two other schools of magic (unless she chooses to specialize in divination; see below), which become her prohibited schools. For instance, if she chooses to specialize in conjuration, she might decide to give up enchantment and necromancy, or evocation and transmutation. A wizard can never give up divination to fulfill this requirement. Spells of the prohibited school or schools are not available to the wizard, and she can't even cast such spells from scrolls or fire them from wands. She may not change either her specialization or her prohibited schools later.
SRD wrote: Spell-Like Abilities (Sp)
Usually, a spell-like ability works just like the spell of that name. A few spell-like abilities are unique; these are explained in the text where they are described.
A spell-like ability has no verbal, somatic, or material component, nor does it require a focus or have an XP cost. The user activates it mentally. Armor never affects a spell-like ability’s use, even if the ability resembles an arcane spell with a somatic component.
A spell-like ability takes the same amount of time to complete as the spell that it mimics (usually 1 standard action) unless otherwise stated. Spell-like abilities cannot be used to counterspell, nor can they be counterspelled. In all other ways, a spell-like ability functions just like a spell
The key parts of these two statements are as follows.
In the first it states that spells of prohibited schools are not available to you. No pass go, not even from wands, scrolls or staves. I believe this statement is meant to be completely expansive because of the phrasing to wondrous items and all other spell trigger and spell completion type itemsin 3.5 as well as alternate methods of using these *spells*.

The key part of the second statement is where it states at the end that apart from the previous stated exceptions, Spell like abilities behave like spells. And nowhere in the exceptions does it talk about special compensation for wizard schools. To me the read as written means that deep gnomes really shouldn't be able to use any necromancy spel like abilities if they specialize in illusion and is an inherant flaw in the wording of these two interacting mechanics.

If they were supernatural abilities originally, then there's no problem. Supernaturals aren't treated as spells in any fashion of their wording.

The only caviot I can see for SLAs is right at the beginning of the second quote where it says usually in reference to the SLA's properties. If an SLA is different enough from any spell on the wizard spell list to be unclassified in terms of school and so is universal then deep gnoems are in the clear.
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!

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Thu Apr 28, 2016 1:27 pm

Kudos for your two great posts, Yemin.

P.S.
And since I am here I will twist the knife in the wound of the idea of using ecl as a means of population control. Mwahaha!

Reductio ad absurdum
If ecl races are meant to be rare, then why halforcs and halfdrow have normal ecl while drow and orcs have a higher one?

Rhetorical questions
Is ecl at present effective at keeping low the population of aasimars (other planetouched are not so common)? No, the evidence is there for everybody to see.

Would a removal of some of ecl limits or of ecl all together worsen the situation and increase the number of aasimars further? To be fair this is impossible to know without trying.

My feeling anyway is that aasimars are so many because their bonuses do not come with real penalties, and ecl +2 is not so relevant to them, first because it is not big, and second because they get some fine bonuses: darkvision, elemental resistances, exclusive racial feats to get wings and +3 net stat points. So I doubt having no cap or no ecl would change much of this.

We should compare perhaps aasimars to tieflings, who get almost the same mechanical features (+1 stats instead of +3). Are tieflings so many as aasimars? No. And what is the main disadvantage of being a tiefling in comparison to being an aasimar? Being a tiefling.

Basically there are no big cities where an aasimar can't go, and there are no discriminations toward aasimars unless they go in openly wicked and evil places. But since here goodie rp is more developed than baddie rp an aasimar has a considerable advantage. If there is really a race that deserves a +5 ecl to make up for the advantages here you have it. :P

Of course I am not serious in the last sentence, and I don't think aasimars should have level cap, or even higher ecl at all, but I believe a higher kismet cost could be worth considering. As for it being effective at keeping their numbers low I am quite skeptical to be honest.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Ungtar » Thu Apr 28, 2016 3:32 pm

Keeping numbers low is a vanity argument, at best. "I'm special and you're not" at its core. It doesn't really have any place.

But on the other hand, neither do these giant walls of text from the rulebooks. This isn't tabletop. Nor is it a MUSH where a DM is present at all times to apply rulesets.

So I'm going to propose we stick to what I will henceforth call the "Dranso Equation" when considering changes:

1. Does it enhance fun?
2. Is it easily accessible to the entire playerbase within a reasonable amount of time? (Not something which dramatically favors 10 year veterans.)
3. Does it promote character longevity so that these individual characters will be played enough to become a feature of our campaign setting?

So consider ECL in these three things:

1. It does not enhance fun unless you are of the mindset that extra difficulty is more fun. (I am, and so I don't mind ECL as much.)
2. I think ECL can be overcome by a newbie as well as a veteran but the kismet requirements are a bit much. 300 or so hours is probably 6 months or more away for a casual adult player.
3. Based on my own experience, it does not promote character longevity. If I want interaction with someone when I check WHO, I often have to switch to another character to go find a friend.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Rordan » Thu Apr 28, 2016 3:39 pm

After some reading, discussion with others, and consideration... I believe removing ECL is, likely, the best course of action to keep the interest of players in terms of trying underdark races.

As it stands, ecl races should be able to reach max level by the books, but we don't allow that to happen. I am for giving ALL ecl races their maximum potential, meaning level 50. This will boost interest and playability for underdark races and should be fairly easy to implement when time permits it. Probably the best fix for core rules and player considerations.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Yemin » Thu Apr 28, 2016 3:53 pm

Ungtar wrote: So I'm going to propose we stick to what I will henceforth call the "Dranso Equation" when considering changes:

1. Does it enhance fun?
2. Is it easily accessible to the entire playerbase within a reasonable amount of time? (Not something which dramatically favors 10 year veterans.)
3. Does it promote character longevity so that these individual characters will be played enough to become a feature of our campaign setting?

So consider ECL in these three things:

1. It does not enhance fun unless you are of the mindset that extra difficulty is more fun. (I am, and so I don't mind ECL as much.)
2. I think ECL can be overcome by a newbie as well as a veteran but the kismet requirements are a bit much. 300 or so hours is probably 6 months or more away for a casual adult player.
3. Based on my own experience, it does not promote character longevity. If I want interaction with someone when I check WHO, I often have to switch to another character to go find a friend.
This is a good idea from where I'm standing Ungtar, hopefully I'm right and this conversation would benefit people stating their preference on these scales to see the majority?

1. Fun - I am not of the mindset that extra difficulty equals more fun. i find the trait more often in oldschool players who were playing high difficulty low intricacy games back in the 90s where difficulty equaled gratification for overcoming. I'm strictly a 2000s and after gamer when games seemed to become more complex and depth of story as well as mor powerful engines meant a better more rounded playing experience imho.

2. Access - Whilst playing my first drow I felt very penned in and without options. There were as I percieved it at the time only two places to grind and few to no quests I could do around menzo in the mean time directly because they required me to grind and get higher level to do them. The one time i adventured with a partner somewhere within the city and cool looking, she died and I nearly did as well if it wouldn't have been for my good memory for flee pattern.

3. Longevity - I can't comment on this as my character only lasted 3 weeks. I imagine if I had reached level 45 i would keep the character around purely because it was harder to get him there and deleting him would feel like a loss but I don't think this necessarily would automatically mean I'd play him a lot.
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!

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Ungtar » Thu Apr 28, 2016 5:50 pm

Contrast both a drow and a svirf to a dwarf.

A dwarf has spell AND poison resistance natively. They can see in the dark. They have an entire area built for them alone (just like svirf and drow) AND in terms of roleplay are equally content on the surface or in the Underdark. They can literally go anywhere they want and have it within the bounds of good roleplay.

Dwarves have no ECL. They can follow any deity they wish and though it might be odd, it can be justified. They can go anywhere they want, have multiple subraces, and a decently wide alignment range.

Are dwarves more popular than a svirf or a drow? More frequently played?

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Thu May 19, 2016 11:44 pm

Ungtar wrote:Contrast both a drow and a svirf to a dwarf.

A dwarf has spell AND poison resistance natively. They can see in the dark. They have an entire area built for them alone (just like svirf and drow) AND in terms of roleplay are equally content on the surface or in the Underdark. They can literally go anywhere they want and have it within the bounds of good roleplay.

Dwarves have no ECL. They can follow any deity they wish and though it might be odd, it can be justified. They can go anywhere they want, have multiple subraces, and a decently wide alignment range.

Are dwarves more popular than a svirf or a drow? More frequently played?
Considering what I have observed lately I think they are definitely more popular.

I have come to think that shield dwarves in particular are a race with only advantages with no real penalties. This does not bother me that much, I am not so petty, but it creates a little discrepancy with other races. For example I have just verified with my new tiefling that I am very marginally better than a dwarf, yet I have to live with the obnoxious ecl (I have verified that even a +2 ecl is a pain) and they have no ecl adjustment at all.

But let's go back to dwarves vs. deep gnomes. I think that frankly that it is impossible to know if ecl is what causes the difference in size of community between the two races. However let's check what sets them apart:

-Kismet: deep gnomes cost 200 hundred each, shield dwarves of usual alignment cost nothing. It is obvious that this plays a big factor in the number of shield dwarves around the kingdoms. But frankly I like the kismet system and I find it very intelligent, so I would not touch this for any reason. It is only right and a guarantee to the good rp of the race, that a deep gnome character is something special, and as such they should be regarded by their player.

-Area support: well, Mithril Hall is not a nice place to grow up in, but at least one can always leave it to go to say Rat Hill, and nothing forbids a dwarf to go almost everywhere. Deep gnomes on the other hand are stuck in Blingdenstone and the Acid Aerie for most of their life. Now something can be done building, I am actually doing a little thing myself, but in general i believe it is right for deep gnomes to stay in the Underdark. Why would somebody play a deep gnome to stay elsewhere? So another moot point.

-ECL: this is definitely not the only reason, but it makes the life of a deep gnome character (or a drow, or a tiefling) quite painful first, and at the same time penalizes without any way to work around it in the long term. A dwarf faces nothing of this. Unlike the other two points this one is not something intrinsecally related to the deep gnome rp. Hence probably the one where it would be worthwhile to try to intervene, since a modification in this regard would not make the rp of the race any worse, but on the other hand attract potential players who are presently scared away by it. There is the risk of attracting powerplayers, but first pwp does not necessarily mean bad rp and second personally I think the deep gnome rp is so strict and the advantages so minor that they would hardly make it worthwhile for a powerplayer to pursue this race (yes, spell resistance is not that useful, being almost irrelevant in PvP against well-built casters and only moderately relevant in PvE).

Neither I think any of the current ecl races would be appreciably overpowered in comparison to the basic ones, even more so taking into consideration their rp and kismet cost. Or at least not more overpowered than shield dwarves or even humans or strongheart halflings.

I say this because I have been doing some researches about ecl adjustments in tabletop and I have found several interesting considerations. And I have also checked that stuff which here is very important, like darkvision, is not so much relevant in tabletop, while other stuff that there is seen as powerful, like ability to fly or spell resistance, here is not really so useful, due to the dynamics of the game that differ from tabletop. Anyway as soon as I get my gray orc, and I am able to test it a little, I will post what I have found out.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Areia » Fri May 20, 2016 9:35 pm

<digression>
Vaemar wrote: I have come to think that shield dwarves in particular are a race with only advantages with no real penalties.
Try building a dwarven teacher. Or a dwarven wizard of any specialization. Or a fighter, who'll likely not be able to match up with a human or other tank in a group because magical buffs from anyone other than a Moradite priest, and especially from wizards, are a no-no for the majority of dwarves. Dwarves' drawbacks admittedly tend to be more social than combat-oriented in nature, but that doesn't make them easier to deal with in a lot of situations. :)

And I know you, Vaemar, have played dwarves before. I just meant this as a general statement, so that people who haven't played them don't get some wrong impressions about the race. It certainly does have its own difficulties--difficulties that make for some pretty interesting RP, but difficulties nonetheless.
</digression>

I'm not sure I see the point in comparing dwarves to these other races, though. Are we trying to say that dwarves are more commonly played because of their perceived strengths as compared to other races and an additional lack of level modifiers?
Nascentes morimur, finisque ab origine pendet.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Fri May 20, 2016 10:08 pm

As I said, I see the comparison impossible. I also was in part intentionally polemic to point out discrepancies between the various races. I believe that roleplay should come first and that features of the races should be used to guide players toward a certain type of roleplay with them, rather than for anything else. I think that a well played dwarf would make up for the advantages with a good roleplay. But this is also even truer for all ecl races barring the planetouched. Drow, svirfneblin and orcish rp, although not as isolate as many paint it, are pretty restrictive and make up definitely for any advatage they (may) have.

But back to dwarves, however, I believe that access to goodie areas and lack of kismet cost play a bigger role in their higher popularity compared to deep gnomes. However ecl has also its weight in turning away people from a race. I heard once a player telling me he made a halforc instead of an full-blooded orc because of ecl. :(

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Tue May 24, 2016 3:05 pm

So here we go I got my gray orc and now I will share what I found out trying both orcs and planetouched races, and also what I found investigating further about ecl adjustment in tabletop and other games.

[Looking at it now that I have written all I had I see this thing is a behemot, so if you have little time just read the parts in bold]

So, as with my tiefling, I found out that these ecl +2 races are pretty brutal and not so less troublesome to level than drow or deep gnomes. While in fact the latters have areas made appositely for them where they can level in a safe although painful way, these formers share the same areas with non-ecl races. Long story short: with my tiefling getting out of Skullport was a real pain and I fear I would still be there had I not found somebody who brought my character on the ship before level 10; while with the orc I found myself in a training temple where the only way to get decent xp was fighting against mobs who took away about one third of my character's hp at each hit.

From this we draw that building of appropriate areas is more important than ecl itself while leveling, but at the same time, if there were no ecl adjustment these same areas, and many more, would be fine too if a little slow. Proof of this? I have had a halfdrow and a goblin of the same classes in both Skullport and the Orc Camp respectively and I had had a hard time but definitely not an unsustainable one.

Another very wrong aspect of ecl adjustment in this game is that, as Harroghty noted, the dynamics of the game are often quite different from tabletop. Hence it is easy to draw the conclusion that applying here the same values of level adjustment used in tabletop has the real risk to produce unbalanced consequences.

Even more so since level adjustment has been repeatedly deemed as a broken mechanic even in tabletop. Which prompts the question: why should we mess with it? But let's look at the evidence:
1)There are many instances where the logic behind level adjustment has been found flawed and incomprehensible. I even found a guy on a forum who claimed that the LA modifiers were chosen at random in many cases. Now mentioning a guy who says something on a forum would be cherrypicking, especially when there are manuals such as savage species that tried hard to provide a logical approach to that mechanic, in order to allow many exotic races as playable characters. But there are on the other hand also some very solid proofs that there is some inconsistency in the whole system. In fact some races and templates have been their level adjustment revised. Examples: vampire, vampire again, yuan-ti and duergar. None of them is playable here, but the pattern is clear: there is something intrinsecally shaky in the whole idea. Trading a particular advantage for a general penalty such a level adjustment is a losing bet. Because your peculiar advantage will not always be used. And this depends also from your class. For example having a low will save defeats in part the purpose of spell resistance, especially when you lose on hit bonus and hp as well. Many examples of this kind of view here in a thread about drow level adjustment.
2)Many have however realized that level adjustment at higher level, tends to leave the level adjusted characters behind. In fact there is a variant rule that allows to buy off the level adjustment. This is how it is phrased "When a character with a level adjustment advances in experience, the level adjustment he started with becomes more and more of a burden. Eventually, the benefits of the creature type may come to be eclipsed by those of his class features, and the player may regret his choice of race. Under this variant system, the character can pay an XP cost at certain intervals to decrease the burden of his level adjustment." Rest of the rules here: http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/races ... tments.htm
3)As mentioned before videogames that use the same rule system have used higher xp costs but never the level cap. The games I have in mind are Icewind Dale II and Neverwinter Nights 2, the latter being also a multiplayer game, which, unlike tabletop campaigns has many similar dynamics with our game.
4)There are many min-maxing boards that, with good reason often, claim that level adjustment is almost never worth it. Here there is an interesting thread on this topic, and I linked precisely a post where a guy claims hobgoblins (+2 dex, +2 con and darkvision) is not worth a +1 LA! The race seemed so win-win that I thought it was not possible to conceive a similar thought, but apparently it is. Now his opinion is of course arguable, but the thread linked is still worth a look for the many other considerations expressed there. In general there is agreement it is universally wrong for spellcasts. And to sum up the rest one could say that most often level adjustment is broken and makes the level adjusted races underpowered. It is not broken only when it is not broken, i.e. too low for the bonuses it gives, and thus makes the races overpowered. So even when it is not broken, it is still broken. So, to put it mildly the only way to achieve balance with these races is to either nerf them, allow them to be played as overpowered or simply do not allow them for players. That's about it.
5)This logic has in fact emerged both in 3.X, pathfinder and 5th edition. The third edition introduced the option of playing lesser races in the Player's Guide to Faerun, actually nerfed down versions of the base races. The fifth edition did away with any kind of level adjustment entirely, introducing the formerly powerful races as normal ones, without incredible bonuses. Pathfinder did away with it too, introducing a system where the various advantages and bonus are converted into racial points and added up in a total. Some totals of the races we also have here: humans have 9 points, elves 10, dwarves 11, half-orcs 8, half-elves 10, gnomes 10, halfling 9, aasimars 15, drow 14, duergar 8, goblin 10, orcs 8, genasi 6-7, tieflings 7, deep gnomes 24. Now, let me point out pathfinder is a little different from srd, and that these races have different modifiers and slightly different bonuses in comparison to their equivalents here. But in general I find the system pretty neat in quantifying the racial power and it seems to me very similar to our kismet. In fact in pathfinder it is the DM that decides, considering the racial points, whether the race is too overpowered or not, or what is to be removed or added to have a balanced group. And that's how they solved it. Pretty well, in my opinion. I found in fact a thread with a guy complaining about how he missed level adjustment. He was answered that if he was looking for an overpowered race it was humans with their extra bonus feat, and that nobody forced DMs to accept so odd groups of characters. And I personally feel they are right, if you are going to let a race be played, let it be with its flavour or do not make it playable at all.

So now, let's apply this to our game. Here some races are already playable and they have already their features. I commend for example the decision to nerf a few things to ease the penalties a little, as the +4 ac bonus for deep gnomes which is absent, and allowed them to have "only" ecl +5 instead of +7 (equivalent to their tabletop +3). But what is already in game, and established, would probably be pretty painful to be taken away, as many reactions to the mention of removing spell resistance have already proven. Also, as noted above, it would be better to leave the races their flavour instead of thinking to too strict balance. Especially that since we are an rp mud there are also many rp downsides for some races, even for the super-goodies aasimars.

But let's be more specific and analyze thoroughly how the various bonuses apply to FK:
-Ability bonuses: it seems easy to assume these are a real advantages. Well, no, given the high ability point pool an average character has here (89 points) these are of little importance. In fact my goblin and deep gnome have never had any problems because of having a net -2 to their stats. Also the net points depend from the class. For example a dwarf fighter, for whom charisma counts less than nothing, has in practice a net +2 bonus, while a goblin bard suffers the penalty quite well. Hence I would say that the net bonuses up to +4 are hardly an advantage worth an ecl adjustment. The counterproof is that characters with net maluses are perfectly playable.
-Darkvision: this one in tabletop counts almost nothing, in particular in the 60 feet version. Here however it has an enormous importance in exploring and use of ranged weapons. I would even say the whole aspect might need a rebalance and I have recently made proposals to generally increase the vision of most characters here, here and here. But this is off-topic. Back on topic there is to note that orcs, halfdrow and drow pay for their darkvision with the needing to spend a feat point for daylight adaptation. Also other races, such as goblins or dwarves, get darkvision wthout penalties, so it is clear this advantage is not currently considered for the purpose of ecl adjustment.
-Special qualities: the only one I am aware of is svirfneblin nondetection. But since they live in the Underdark for 90% of the time it is also almost irrelevant to them, except for their illusionists and even then it is a double-edged sword, because you cannot see each other once you become invisible.
-Spell resistance: hic sunt leones! In tabletop this is an advantage, here much less so. First and foremost a level 45 character with 29 spell resistance has the mathematical certainty to be hit by a level 9 spell by a level 50 spellcaster, and down to level 4 if the spellcaster has spell penetration, as they should, if they are offensive casters. If you throw in even heighten spell then sr becomes even more useless. At least as long as we go on PvP, which is the most important aspect of balancing races between them. In PvE it does give a minor advatange against low-level casters, but still, given that here there are hordes of mobs and many spam cast insta-death spells, it is still a bit as playing Russian Roulette. On the other hand the problems with the spells beneficial for the character are all there. Most characters with spell resistance have generally lost count for the botched stoneskins, dragonskins or cures they have received. And this is even worse with group spells where everybody must lower their resistances at the same time. It is hypocritical and unfair not to account for this. Given all this I don't think that spell resistance, as it is in game now, really is worth an ecl adjustment. For the record my drow and deep gnome would be glad to get rid of it and consider it a handicap and with very good reasons.
-Spell-like abilities: of the races I played there is not a single one who has a useful spell-like ability. On top of that these abilities have a single use per day so once they are used, they will come back after a long time. In some cases, such as the tiefling, the already marginally useful tabletop ability has been replaced with a merely scenographical one. I think genasi have slightly better abilities, but in truth I doubt any of these abilities are worth an ecl adjustment. At all. For casters they might be a little nicer, because they get added to their spell lists, but even for them, there is hardly anything worth a spellslot.
-Racial feats: daylight adaptation is a malus, there is little to argue about it. There are however a handful racial feats for tieflings and aasimars. Three out of five add spell-like abilities, and thus not so useful. They are slightly better than the basic racial abilities, but not much more so. In fact I would only pick them up as a pre-requisite for the wings feats. The wings feats are neater, but mostly for fighters. Even then, however, they are still worse than fly spells because flying with wings has a high stamina cost and because creatures can attack you anyway. On top of that it is two feat points to get wings, so they do not come for free already. Some even joke on them being a waste of two feat points. I don't agree completely but I do see some reason in the joke. In any case, hardly anything worth an ecl adjustment.
-Bonus feats: the only one I know is blind fight for gray orcs. I find it odd because even in tabletop there is no mention of this. It is pretty much a bad deal anyway. Orcs are already short a feat due to daylight adaptation, and I would have preferred something else instead of blind fight. Again, not something worth an ecl adjustment.

So, long story short, the only real bonus they get is darkvision, which is not counted as a bonus for most races. The rest is minor or arguable at best.

So if the aim of having ecl was to have balance I am sorry to say but the mechanic has failed miserably. The races are underpowered and I hope I have managed to show enough evidence to prove it beyond any plausible deniability

The only thing that ecl achieves is damaging the game, by reducing the variety of rp for the playerbase. In fact it turns off those who are not fond of grinding for the pain at first levels, and at the same time also those who are attracted to the mechanical side of the game due to the obnoxious level cap. It damages even those few players who can get along with it for the sake of having a different roleplay, by reducing the number of players they can interact with. Proof for it is that deep gnomes, orcish and drow communities are definitely not healthy. This is simply spectacular. In a disastrous way, of course.

One wonders if the real intent of ecl is to keep some races that could be used for PvP, due to their background, as definitely underpowered to avoid having troublesome players drawn to them. In fact orcs have for example no reason, at all, to have an ecl adjustment, yet in the past when this was pointed out the staff refused to remove it. Now if this is the case, I can't disagree more on the matter. First it assumes more players who go for dark races look for PvP more than those who go for normal races. There is nothing more wrong. An orc has the same PvP potential of a human Cyricist. And on top of that half-drow or half-orcs have not appreciably less aggressive tendencies than drow or orcs respectively. But this is of course an assumption, and maybe also a wrong one.

I want also to specify, since we are in for a behemot, that despite I am being passionate on this, I can really be fine with ecl. I mean, I keep my ecl-characters as a characters with whom I make an rp I love, especially when I see online pc's of my same race, and then keep other characters as my main alts. As actually most players do, by the way. But let me at least say, this is a pity given all the wasted potential.

I would personally find better to enhance what FK does well, with intelligent and laudable mechanics such as the kismet, and ditch stuff like ecl that has never done anything good and was ultimately ditched even where it was born, i.e. in tabletop. I would find much merit in shifting what is presently handled via ecl to kismet. If a race is too powerful simply nerf it, or limit its availability. That would be the way to go.

Said that, I will close with Occam's razor: Is it right that some races, the ecl races in this case, are NEVER going to be able to reach the same level of power in their class to match the standard races?

No, it is not, it is unfair, unbalanced and breaks any sense of immersion or lore.


P.S.
I am sorry it came out so long :(
At this point the matter needed to be analyzed in detail to point out its flaws, and I tried to do so providing as much evidence as I could.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Gwain » Wed May 25, 2016 4:32 pm

Personally, I think that after reading this, we could simply expand the ECL to all races or classes to level the playing field for future characters and races. It may be easier than removing the current ecl or tweaking it.
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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Yemin » Wed May 25, 2016 5:58 pm

From an implementation perspective what is harder about it?

What I took from that post is that ECL is a broken, abandoned system that didn't achieve what it was designed for in the first place and doesn't do so here. The only fix would be giving everyone the same ECL which would be pointless so it might as well be removed entirely.
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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Sun Jun 05, 2016 11:22 am

Oh, let's look at other races and classes:

-As stated above, humans and (shield) dwarves are definitely overpowered in comparison to most other standard races. An extra feat is a very huge bonus, and the combo of darkvision and bonus to constituion in exchange for a malus in charisma practically means a net +2 stat points for 90% of dwarven characters. There is no way that, say, a gnome or a half elf could compare to those two races.

-As for classes it can very well be argued that rogues, especially thieves, are underpowered in comparison to most other classes. And even fighters compared to spellcasters, especially priests, can't really compare. This is an intrinsic flaw of D&d, where spellcasters have always been those with the upper hand, in particular at high levels. Proof of this? Get a first edition AD&d handbook. You will see that the weaker classes, like in fact thieves, had a lower requirement of experience points to gain levels. On the other hand spellcasting classes, and especially wizards, had the steepest requirements. Back then there was also a kind of ecl, precisely a level cap for non-human races. This depended by class, for example elves could excel as wizards, but not as well as fighters. Humans had no caps, and so thieves, regardless of their race.

-There is also a third aspect exclusive to FK: the remnants of the old glory system. There are in fact around characters with more or less overpowered scoresheets, sometimes even with a whole streak of 18's. And this is not all, if these characters are spellcasters they might also have access to spells that now are not available anymore to their classes, like 'word of recall' or 'dragonskin'. It is obvious these old guys, at least some of them, are clearly overpowered in comparison to new youthlings. It is a simple matter of fact.

And in light of all of this the huge balance issue is the aasimar +4 net stat bonus???

Let's be serious, for once, and let's accept the game system of D&d, and by consequence that of this mud, is not and will never be perfectly balanced. On top of that I find pretty petty the idea of leveling everybody's power so strictly, as if one had to be protected from other characters being stronger than them. In fact I have mentioned the above issue concerning races, classes and old characters not because I have any problems with them, but simply to point out the lack of logic in penalyzing a few races with ecl. In particular when these races, unlike the standard ones, have already some balancing aspects like being ghettoized.

Orcs: not overpowered to begin with.
Underdark Races: stuck in the Underdark.
Planetouched: high kismet cost.

Now, given all the above, I don't see where is the problem in having a few races being very slightly overpowered, especially if this being overpowered comes with kismet costs and ghettoization. And in particular I don't see the gain in having such a punitive balancing when I weigh it against the very negative impact it has on the rp of these races. Of course it is not the only problem they have, but I have seen after playing at least a pair of these races extensively that it is a problem for them and not a small one.

In particular the triple infernal mechanism of this feature works in this way:
-It turns off roleplayers because of the massive grinding it requires.
-It turns off powerplayers because it makes the races objectively underpowered. (And no, a pwp is not necessarily a bad rper)
-It turns off the remaining players because they have fewer other characters to interact with.

As I said, the way this works is "spectacularly disastrous". Ah, as for balance, ecl completely misses the target, unless making the affected races objectively underpowered is seen as balance.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Hrosskell » Fri Jun 17, 2016 6:07 pm

Late to discussion here, but my thoughts:
Racial imbalance at level 50 is impossible as it currently stands for one reason: stat caps. All classes of all races can, and will, get the two primary stats they need for their class to 20. Regardless of bonuses, regardless of penalties. They then get to choose a tertiary stat, and dump into it, and draw from others.

This makes the ECL a MASSIVE penalty to the specific job classes do in exchange for versatility that most of them likely do not want. An orc fighter, for example, has to funnel the bonuses in his STR/CON down into other stats because he just hits 20 faster/easier than a human. So he picks charisma, and is the prettiest orc quester out there. He loses BAB, saves, and HP. This makes him worse at his primary job in exchange for being the prettiest orc quester out there. Did he want to be in the first place? Probably not. Does it make sense? Definitely not. On this basis alone, the ECL should be removed (or stat caps should be removed, but that seems the more controversial option).

As it stands, ECL+5 races can never be better than humans at their intended jobs, period.

-- For those interested:
I ignored the dexterity argument for fighters and the STR argument for rogues because it doesn't really make a difference. At 12 dex, Cahir has won vs. 20 dex fighters. At 18 STR, Graham used to lose to 14 STR rogues. Wizards can dump stats into int/con/dex and ignore STR completely to very little difference. Every class has that "oh but they'll get more of this!" that doesn't really matter as much as you might think it would. The versatility trade-off is literally never as good as a few more points to what you specialize in--this is why we scramble for items that directly increase our jobs instead of granting us frivolous utilities.
Jamais arriere.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Tue Aug 23, 2016 3:31 pm

Hrosskell wrote:As it stands, ECL+5 races can never be better than humans at their intended jobs, period.
Actually any race except for strongheart halflings, which may benefit from their size in some instances. ECL+2 and +5 races are simply even more penalyzed.

You mentioned very rightly the stat caps, which is an element that makes most races disadvantaged in comparison to races, such as humans and strongheart halflings, who get a bonus feat.

Effectively humans trade that bonus feat for the possibility to reach a higher value in the attribute increased in that race. For example a moon elf with their bonus in dexterity can reach 24 dexterity sooner than a human, because an elf can start with 20 dexterity and a human only with 18. This in tabletop and in games with a stat system similar to it, such as NWN.

In short this means that unless a race gets some additional feature, such as darkvision, it is undeniably inferior to humans. And even these features are unimportant depending on class, i.e. wizards get the darkvision spell for example. A human wizard will always be superior to a sun elf wizard with the same build and equipment, no matter what. And a strongheart halfling, perhaps, even better than the human given the extra ac and hit bonus.

It is not by chance that one of the favourite races of powerbuilders in NWN2 is strongheart halfling, with humans close second.

In particular many argue that there is no point, from a powerplay perspective, to roll a lightfoot halfling, because a strongheart halfling who spends their bonus feat to take luck of heroes is just better than a lightfoot halfling.

So, simply put, a strongheart halfling is objectively overpowered in comparison to a lightfoot halfling. Yet, how come we do still see lightfoot halflings around and stronghearts do not outnumber them?

My opinion is that kismet is a deterrent to that and an intelligent and well-conceived one at it. Even a small cost as 50 is enough to make so that we do not see an endless streak of strongtheart halflings and none plays lightfoot. On the other hand it keeps a rather decent balance and makes so that, despite the advantage, only motivated players make a strongheart halfling.

Hence I don't see why the same could not be applied to ecl races. If a race is more popular in comparison to its rarity or more powerful they can have an appropriate higher kismet cost and that will do it. There is no reason to nerf a character without appeal giving them a huge -10% chance to hit only to mention attack bonus alone. And even ecl+2 races with a -5% chance to hit are still penalized considerably, if we consider that the simple weapon focus is a feat that does just that.

Then of course powerplay is not everything and, as said, the races give access to a fantastical potential for roleplay, as well as exquisitely built areas and quests, and thus they are still more than worth being played, despite ecl and its consequences; including the need for an exaggerated and frustrating need to grind that it involves, which is frankly counterproductive in a roleplay mud that should on the other hand encourage rp, instead than grinding.

FK has devised a system that at least rewards time spent roleplaying in the same way of hours spent grinding, not considering rewards which reward actually good roleplay. Why then not use that to handle more powerful races instead than a broken and failed system like ecl?

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Aunala » Fri May 12, 2017 12:33 am

ECL, if I remember correctly, was implemented as the 'trade-off' for the Drow's spell resistance and stat point net and the Planetouched races' stat point net, utility via feats and, in the case of Tieflings, reduction of elemental damage. After a time, there was a review and the admins developed a few the racial abilities from SRD for said races.

As it stands, ECL attempts to curve the early level strength of those races by the increase of EXP cap to the next level. Working as designed. What FK takes a step further is its system of exp cost for 25-point skill levels in spells and skills and weapons and languages. One instance of training a warrior's 'second attack' skill to a non-ECL character at the appropriately required level will cost the character a nominal 1/8-1/4 of his/her level. To an ECL character, that cost nearly multiplies in respect to the character's ECL value. 1 skill 'tick' costs over 1/2-3/4 your way to the next level with only 2 ECL. Drow and Svirf are tied for 5 ECL. Meaning that training session of just getting the skill from (0)unknown to (1)inept just got much more costly in time and effort. Oh, yeah - remember that ECL experience cap from before? The effort and time multiplies on itself twice over.

On the same note, it was an observation of mine that ECL races require more skill procs(successes/fails of the skill, ie successfully lighting a fire as opposed to the kindling sputtering) than their non-ECL counterparts. Has anyone noted this before without me seeing or any suspicions?

Pertaining to FK's skill level increases, these ECL races could possibly devote a few of their stat net gains to increase their INT. Which would aid in the overall progression of any race's skill levels. This is fairly common in FK because of the mud's system. It's one step in the wrong direction, in my opinion. A band-aid that the players consciously must take to cover up the symptom of the tabletop-to-FK ECL system.

It is a fact that an ECL character will have less health, stamina, saving throws, BAB and feats than their class and level respective non-ECL counterparts. While both expected to fight the same monsters to quest, explore, roleplay and gain exp. It is a fact that all but two* ECL races, Mountain Orcs, which have for reasons unknown been given ECL 2 status; and Deep Gnomes at a -2 deficit, will net at the minimum 1 more stat point than their counterparts. Most commonly, ECL races net 2 stat points. Drow net +4.

Spellcasters have utility built right into the class that lets the character apply band-aids at will. It is a fact that they will have a lower caster level than their non-ECL counterparts. They will potentially, with class and level being equal, have less spell slots - I am not so familiar with spellcasters and their slot gains per level.

As I mentioned, with FK's system the time and effort multiply with ECL while the character being innately 'weaker'. It doesn't quite make the transition from tabletop to FK seamlessly. I've put nearly a dozen characters with 5 ECL to mid-max level - majority being Drow. I cannot rightly say that ECL has hampered the quality of RP, but with these drawbacks being felt from the very first time you type 'kill goblin', I am confident in saying that it has reduced the quantity that I might have had otherwise.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Aunala » Fri May 12, 2017 12:46 am

Gwain wrote:Personally, I think that after reading this, we could simply expand the ECL to all races or classes to level the playing field for future characters and races. It may be easier than removing the current ecl or tweaking it.
Global reset is much easier than what you're suggesting.

ECL for everyone is taking a large step away from tabletop - maybe just what FK needs.

ECL removal is my vote.

ECL removal and global reset is my #2.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Bellayana » Sun May 21, 2017 3:07 pm

Wow, I just have to say, this discussion has peaked my interest. I have not mind one single bit with the ECL, having some kismet needed races, I for one believe some races should have something that sets them apart and the ECL for all races and classes would be interesting to see. I love to see things get shook up, and making things close to the tabletop (Because that is how I see FK, a big tabletop game that goes on 24/7) but allowing the playerbase to operate without DM or Staff intervention and to allow staff to play their characters to become part of story plot too. Anyhow, ECL was never really seen as a negative in my book, only a challenge that rarer characters had to face and overcome.
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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Sun May 21, 2017 4:12 pm

It would be a challenge without level cap. In that case you would overcome the initial disadvantage and then enjoy your special character. In tabletop, also, with conscious multi-classing you can make up in part for the ecl penalty, and needless to say, in tabletop there is no level cap.

Here, on the other hand, if you make, say, a fire genasi thief, you will always be behind a <insert non-ecl race here> of a series of important bonuses that you will never -ever- be able to achieve.

And as far as the challenge is concerned it is also, in my humble opinion, a wrong way to select players suited for those often difficult roles. To play a good deep gnome one needs to be very conscious of the lore and the culture of the race, not necessarily to have the will to stay in Blingdenstone to kill a bazillion moles in order to finally get to level 10. That's just a pointless torture that, if anything, turns away people legitimately interested in the deep gnome roleplay.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Elerian » Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:19 am

Was just wondering if there was any updates on this?

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