Knight_Vassal
 member, 548 posts
Sun 8 Nov 2020
at 16:59
Advice: Planescape
 Alright I hate dealing with ECL in "Monster type" games. Mostly because CR doesn't convert the same most of the time.  2 or more same CR monsters will have a massive difference in ECL. So here is where I have a need for advice.

 1) I am thinking of running a Planescape Campaign in 3rd edition. With that being said I want to open up the "races" that players can play. So allowing monster races is one of the easier ways to do this. I was thinking of allowing up to a max of CR 5 monster and ignoring the ECL. Thoughts?

 2) And the second part say 2/3rds of the players take CR 5 monsters, but the other 1/3rd take "Normal" races should I give them a level boost or keep them in a separate "group" than the monster ones?
zagygthemad
 member, 131 posts
Sun 8 Nov 2020
at 17:11
Advice: Planescape
In reply to Knight_Vassal (msg # 1):

I'd be interested in playing in it! Planescape would be awesome!
Hendell
 member, 263 posts
Sun 8 Nov 2020
at 17:15
Advice: Planescape
3rd edition is both tricky and enormous so there isn't likely to be a single fix to the problem.  The Savage Species book uses level advancement charts that mix in monster HD with ECL to be equivalent to most class levels.

ECL tends to become less meaningful at higher levels as well, so the answer in a 5th level game is different than the answer in 15th level game.

Other versions throw out monster HD and just replace them with a class level, sometimes a minimum equal to the normal HD.

Monster CR is almost always not what you want to compare because it isn't intended to balance with 1 PC it is intended to threated 4-6 of them but not replace them.
sbodmann
 member, 127 posts
Sun 8 Nov 2020
at 18:00
Advice: Planescape
I've been looking for a planescape game so I'll keep my eye out if you run it here...

As for your question, if I were in your shoes, I'd probably take it on a case by case basis, with the overall goal of keeping all the characters mostly balanced with each other.

I'd try to get a good idea of what interests each player about their race selection. Are they power gaming, going for a specific ability, trying to do something "cool", trying out a concept, exploring some particular rp opportunity, etc. Some of those would let you ignore some of the racial mechanics you might otherwise have "by the book".

I'd do this for the players with standard races also. This helps you figure out what bonuses to give them to balance things out with the nonstandard races.

Then I'd handle it on a case by case basis  to achieve design goals and balance rather than trying to devise some general modifier in advance to apply everywhere.

In the end, each character will get a bit more than they would for whatever level you start. For the nonstandard races, it will be racial abilities. For the standard races, it could be many different things. Maybe that's an extra level or two, maybe it's a nonstandard spelllike ability, maybe a feat or two, maybe a magic item, or some combination. I'd look at the racial substitution levels for inspiration for special abilities. Maybe give them those plus the standard class abilities they replace.
engine
 member, 802 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Sun 8 Nov 2020
at 18:16
Advice: Planescape
3rd Edition does not make a serious effort to keep PCs balanced with each other, even without introducing monstrous races, and it's not difficult to find people who believe this is a good thing.

So, whatever approach you go with, I recommend also letting the players know that balance is your goal. If they know that, and agree with it, then they will be more likely to keep things toned down, using their creativity to help you balance things rather than to maximize their own power.
Sockpuppet
 member, 107 posts
Sun 8 Nov 2020
at 19:01
Advice: Planescape
I absolutely love Planescape, and would love to participate if this gets off the ground. :)

As for your question, I've played with some power-gamish groups before and have run a few monster campaigns myself. It's always a gamble, a lot of monsters get massive attribute bonuses or abilities that can't be replicated with class features, so ignoring ECL gives them a huge boon. But with ECL, monsters with spellcasting classes will still feel outpaced by characters with no ECL. If you really want to ignore ECL you might want to strip all monster PC's of their racial hit dice, but that will alter feats, skills, saves, BAB, etc.

If you aren't afraid of high-powered PC's, the easiest balance is to run gestalt with ECL accounted for one one side of the gestalt.
ihoddell
 member, 62 posts
Sun 8 Nov 2020
at 20:45
Advice: Planescape
Being honest the level of modification you'll need to deal with standard cr 5 critters as races is going to be significant.  Obvious examples are the large air elemental, greater barghest and a variety of dragons.  Perfect flight, +8 to all mental stats, 25 in Dex are commonplace just from the first monster manual.

That being said you're not alone in this desire. This link is one version I've seen used to achieve this goal
https://forums.giantitp.com/sh...-and-taking-requests!
Ski-Bird
 subscriber, 130 posts
Sun 8 Nov 2020
at 21:28
Advice: Planescape


^^ I'll echo what Sbodman said.  I would emphasize to any potential players that it's 'character first, stats second.'

Particularly as this tale will be in 3.5, since you'll probably have a lot of sales pitches that have a meticulously researched collection of plusses and minuses with a handful of traits, a bloodline or two, three variant class features, etc ... and no appreciable idea of why's, who's and how's about their character.

'Cool, I get that he's an abyssal half-undead arctic minotaur, but ..."
engine
 member, 803 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Sun 8 Nov 2020
at 22:34
Advice: Planescape
In reply to Ski-Bird (msg # 8):

If the idea is to avoid power-gamed characters, just putting "character first" is an iffy way to approach that. "Power-gamed stats" and "well-thought-out character" are not mutually exclusive.

Be upfront with potential players. If, in order to balanced, massive power has to be tied to tremendous drawbacks - beyond what the ECL system tries to impose - make that clear, and make sure the drawbacks matter to the game and don't screw things up further. A superpowered character who can be killed by sunlight might seem like it's adequately hobbled, but not if the game takes place entirely inside Sigil.
Hendell
 member, 264 posts
Sun 8 Nov 2020
at 23:18
Advice: Planescape
Really what power balance comes down to it what you end up with is the GM's comfort level.  There are powerful characters and non powerful ones, if you have to many of either kind mixed in with a group mostly the other you get imbalance.  But there is no reason you can't maintain that balance either at the higher or lower power levels, provided you can find a full set of players who make characters of that type.

That said no 3e game has ever been actually balanced, so some of it comes down to the range in power you are willing to manage either by shifting focus or by some other form of clever design on the campaign as a whole.
Knight_Vassal
 member, 549 posts
Sun 8 Nov 2020
at 23:20
Advice: Planescape
Fair enough guys.

  And 99.9% of the time engine power gamer and well thought out character are exclusive. Not always but more often than not.

  I think that I'm gonna have to be more strict with the RTJ as well than normal. And I'm normally pretty laid back on that. Clearly enough interest if I wanted to run it here. Lol.

  And thenpoint was to allow more variety. And yes I know CR is for 4-5 PC but that doesn't equate to a 20th level ECL for CR 5 or 6. And I use a slightly different method for ECL but is more often than not more accurate to what the figured ECL actually is. Beside the point though.
engine
 member, 804 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Mon 9 Nov 2020
at 01:03
Re: Advice: Planescape
Knight_Vassal:
And 99.9% of the time engine power gamer and well thought out character are exclusive. Not always but more often than not.

"Exclusive" means that once can't have one with the other, so it's never "exclusive." It might be rare, but I don't think there's any actual proof of that, what with how subjective the concept of "character" and "roleplaying" are and how GMs undermine their own preferences without even realizing.

This is why the Stormwind Fallacy was defined.
https://rpg.stackexchange.com/...he-stormwind-fallacy

Anyway, just make sure you're on the same page with your players. If we want to talk about rare occurrences, I have rarely if ever seen anyone admit that they prefer "stats" over "character," so it shouldn't be hard to find people who are willing to make absolute rubbish builds in the service of good characterization. So, have fun with that.
Knight_Vassal
 member, 550 posts
Mon 9 Nov 2020
at 01:35
Re: Advice: Planescape
In reply to engine (msg # 12):

I embody the Stormwind Fallacy, but most players can not be both. It isn't a knock on them it is just facts. It's why I run crazy ideas because most GMs can't handle that concepts I throw out or think up. Which is by definition irritating. I mean who can come up with challenges for PC Dragons of the adult or higher stage and have it still be challenging. I ask questions these days because I can't decide which would more interesting. I need input because of all the ideas bouncing around in the old noggin. Plus all the characters and their associated NPCs. And so on. I literally came up with at least 6 characters while typing this. Personality wise for a game like this.
Karack
 member, 171 posts
Mon 9 Nov 2020
at 05:53
Re: Advice: Planescape
one approach that worked well for me:

1) keep an eye on the quantity and quality of out of combat things characters can do.
2) come up with a short list for rough estimates of what you're looking for in combat.

for example, when i needed to add a new player to an epic game, instead of telling people "do this, don't do that", i was able to simply tell them that currently in the game characters are typically doing 'X' damage each round and have saves of roughly 'X' 'Y' 'Z'. The ranges for AC are 'A' to 'D' and HP range from 'F' to 'H'. this gives a solid target for players to aim for when creating their characters (not an exhaustive list, but you get the point). it'll be up to you to keep the balance for out of combat stuff, but that helped me with in combat so no one could entirely steal the spotlight all the time. beyond that, as long as everyone's having fun, then hopefully you should be good to go.
Ezri
 member, 343 posts
Mon 9 Nov 2020
at 06:24
Re: Advice: Planescape
I would suggest splitting your RTJ relatively even across both mechanical and roleplay aspects which will (to some degree) let you gauge where the player's interest and focus lie. Some players will give you a detailed breakdown of their monster race choice and request templates and bloodlines, etc with little more than 'Sandy is a demonic minatour who ran away from home and ended up in Sigil'. Others will give you maybe a basic monster race and mechanic answers while provide a lot of background as to the schism in Sandy's tribe and why she sought out Archmage X to seek assistance but was betrayed and banished to Sigil as part of an arcane ritual'. And some, you'll get both a detailed mechanical breakdown and story reasons why those exist "see, as part of the ritual the Archmage bound an imp to replace Sandy's heart which is why she now has the Fiendish template".

Secondly, say up front that you may tweak or even outright remove certain abilities of races to help balance the group. Maybe as part of the mechanical questions ask what parts of the race they *really* want/are the reason they chose the race in the first place and which ones they can live without (maybe not ask the second part as they think they might lose those automatically). This might also help you figure out the type of player they are. "I want to play a Mind Flayer because I want to stun people lots, you can remove that autokill tentacles if you want and we can say part of their backstory is their tentacles have been cut off by Githyanki .. " (yes the example is higher CR, but you get the idea). Maybe have a look at any abilities you might remove/nerf off the bat to put as examples for your players to get an idea what they're getting in to. Although part of it will be party balance - if everyone can fireball at will, then it isn't a problem if Sandy the fiendish minataur can too.

I guess also keep in mind that CR 5 is a broad category, and from memory there is 'power creep' in those CRs as the game developed so keep an eye on some of the last published monsters.
zagygthemad
 member, 132 posts
Thu 12 Nov 2020
at 16:01
Re: Advice: Planescape
After Greyhawk, Planescape is my favorite. If and when you start, let me know!
Knight_Vassal
 member, 552 posts
Thu 12 Nov 2020
at 16:37
Re: Advice: Planescape
In reply to zagygthemad (msg # 16):

Well this was an opportune timing.

link to another game

 In case anyone wants in. The RTJ is a lot more strict than normal, but I feel it has to be. Mostly because of the power levels we are talking about.Also it is a mature game just so you guys know.

This message was last edited by the user at 17:22, Thu 12 Nov.