WORK IN PROGRESS
Now that the forum moved, I thought I might pick up where I left and actually finish something I started.
The rules that govern this resource have evolved over a period of time, with input from many members of this and other boards. In the following, I will try to codify what we worked out so far, and hope to clear up some common confusions that tend to pop up every time this system is mentioned to someone new to the concept.What are Tiers for? What makes a PrC powerful?
Tiers are a way of comparing different levels of power, in this case among prestige classes.
As to what constitutes power, we've come to a consensus that to be powerful, a PrC must improve the build it is inserted to, and to be weak, a PrC must worsen the build it is inserted into.
Now, there are a million and more ways to construct a build, and we would have a hard time to account for every one of them. But, my postulation is, that's not absolutely necessary. Considering the case where only base classes are taken before the PrC is entered, the relative power of a PrC can be accurately captured by how much it improves the combination of base classes that benefits the most
from entering this PrC, compared to taking more base-class levels
. We call this the logical entry
build. Recent ratings of PrCs always include logical entry, so that we can see what the reference build for the rating is and see how the PrC makes that a better build, and by how much.
We currently ignore the case where multiple PrCs are entered for synergy, for two main reasons. First of all, with so many options, it will not be easy for a rater to find the best possible combination of PrCs, feats, etc. to make it all shine as bright as can be. Even if one poster thinks he's got the best deal possible, there is tremendous room for disagreement. So this point can be summed up as: Logical entries containing PrCs are hard.
Secondly, there is the issue of applicability. For this resource to be useful, it needs to apply to a reasonably wide range of cases. If one specialized build jumps a Tier because of a PrC, that doesn't tell us much about the PrC and more about the build. I think the use case of base class only
entries is huge on its own and gives a great approximation of the overall crunch the PrC brings to the table.
There are exceptions to this rule, though. Sometimes, the character needs to be of a certain race, or group of races. In cases where this is an issue (such as Soul Eater, Drow Judicator), the race is an integral part of the prestige class and must be considered part of the prestige class
. You would try to pick the race with the lowest ECL possible, unless that cripples the build overmuch, since you want the power rating of a PrC to be as independent of the power of the race as possible (using races that are made of win to rate a PrC just doesn't reflect much on the PrC). Also, most racial HD are not made of win and so the lowest ECL is better anyway (you'd pick lesser drow for drow judicator, for example).
The same goes for classes with specialized SLA requirements, like Fiend of Possession. The ECL of the entry race must be considered in the rating, since there simply is no 'cheaper' way to enter the PrC.
If the sample build for the PrC (including: logical entry, at least 1/2 the levels in the PrC, and the race's ECL adjustments) is above ECL20, it is not a valid build to rate this PrC with. If there is no build of at most ECL20, then the PrC is unplayable/unrateable.
Another issue we must concern ourselves with is how a lot of PrCs have unevenly distributed goodies. Some are front-loaded, some are late-bloomers. 'Dipping' is common practice on these boards for just that reason. So, what gives us a good measure of a PrC as a whole? If you just take one or two levels and then ditch it, is the prestige class really that good? If the last two levels give only shitty abilities, is the class automatically bad? I think not. Therefore, the rule is that any build analyzed to rate a prestige class must contain at least 1/2 the levels
in the prestige class, rounded up
(in case of fractions). For PrCs that require a race with ECL2+ (see previous paragraph), racial levels do not count for this calculation. For PrCs that are 'too short', all levels must be taken. This 'shortness' limit currently hovers somewhere around the 5 levels mark (use sound judgement).Terminology, or What does that mean, an "up two" PrC? Is a Tier 4 class with a +2 PrC now Tier 2?
We get those questions a lot whenever someone new to the concept gets introduced to it. The short answer to the latter question is no, a Tier 4 class with a "+2" PrC is not automatically Tier 2
.The more detailed answer:
Perhaps it is best to have a fresh start for the (confusing) terminology in this system. In brief, we have categorized PrCs into five broad categories:
- Marvelous prestige classes
These PrCs improve the power of their entry classes dramatically, either by building on strengths or by adding powerful new ones. Expect characters with these to blow their base-classed peers out of the water. Or to earn FLAC from the DM, because some of these open doors to ridiculous power. To be included in this set, a prestige class must raise the logical entry's tier by one or more (though not every PrC that boosts a logical entry by one tier is a marvelous prestige class). What constitutes a Tier 0 or lower character is subject to board-wide consensus.
For historical reasons, and for brevity, we call these the "up two" or +2 prestige classes.
- Good to Great prestige classes
These PrCs generally improve their entry classes substantially, without affecting game balance quite so abundantly as marvelous prestige classes (they may still gain a tier).
For historical reasons, and for brevity, we call these the "up one" or +1 prestige classes.
- Mediocre prestige classes
These PrCs are roughly on par with their logical entries overall, trading strengths in certain areas for strengths in others, or providing moderate gains for a moderate investment (e.g. required feats or unfavorable multiclassing). Expect characters with these to stay on very much the same power level.
For historical reasons, and for brevity, we call these the "even" or +0 prestige classes.
- Bad to Awful prestige classes
These PrCs are generally strictly inferior to their logical entries, losing out on important features in order to gain things that are likely not to matter in the long run, without screwing you over quite as much as catastrophic prestige classes (they may still drop a tier).
For historical reasons, and for brevity, we call these the "down one" or -1 prestige classes.
- Catastrophic prestige classes
These PrCs completely fail to do whatever they were trying to do, or make heavy sacrifices for little to no gain. Expect characters with these to be unplayable without heavy optimization effort, or some cunning trick. In some cases, it is preferable to play a straight Truenamer. Again, to be included in this set, a PrC must lower the logical entry's Tier by one or more (though not every PrC that lowers a logical entry by one tier is a catastrophic prestige class).
For historical reasons, and for brevity, we call these the "down two" or -2 prestige classes.
Basically, the set of marvelous
prestige classes is the treasure chest, the set of catastrophic
prestige classes is the poison well. Mediocre
prestige classes don't give much, but also don't take much; the logical entry is exactly as well-off or screwed as before. The other two sets are continuums between those three.How to rate a PrC
A simple 5-step process without unexpected ???s followed by "Profit!": 1. Figure out what the logical entry for this prestige class is.
The logical entry is a build stub detailing a progression of base classes, i.e. Ranger 1/Scout 2/Ranger +2
You should think of the build that, in your opinion, would profit most from entering this prestige class, at the lowest sensible ECL.
It should not
use early-entry tricks. Feats/skills/etc. should be picked only if it's a requirement for the PrC.2. Make an exemplary build
An exemplary build consists of the logical entry and at least 1/2 the levels of the PrC (rounded up). Pick race only if necessary. Must be ECL20 or lower (without LA buy-off).3. Make a reference build
A reference build is a fairly optimized but reasonable build consisting of the logical entry and more base-class levels at the same ECL as the other build.4. Compare the two builds
Note: Neither build needs full documentation. You just need them for the following thought experiment.
Compare what one gains over the other.
If the character doesn't learn a new trick and doesn't get significantly better at the things it's already good at, you've got a good +0 candidate right there.
If the gains of the exemplary build significantly exceed the losses, compared to the reference build, it's likely to be +1. If you believe it might be +2, prepare for all-out war with the forum regulars (or say "+1 (might be +2)" ).
If the losses of the exemplary build greatly exceed the gains, compared to the reference build, analyze just *how* crippled it is compared to the reference build. If it's near unplayable (one million miles away from being an appropriate challenge for the reference build), then it's probably a -2. All other cases are likely to be -1.5. Post your results (including logical entry)
People will agree or disagree with you; either way, we'll all have a much better understanding of the prestige class, thanks to you. Yay you!About this resourceBooks included so far and average tier:
|Book of Exalted Deeds||+0.27|
|Book of Vile Darkness||+0.53|
|Champions of Ruin||+0|
|Champions of Valor||+0.25|
|Drow of the Underdark||-1|
|Dungeon Master's Guide||-0.38|
|Eberron Campaign Setting||+0.63|
|Expanded Psionics Handbook||+0.1|
|Expedition to the Demonweb Pits||+1|
|Faiths and Pantheons||+0.11|
|Heroes of Battle||+0.25|
|Heroes of Horror||+0.5|
|Lords of Madness||+0.71|
|Lost Empires of Faerūn||+0|
|Magic of Incarnum||-0.17|
|Player's Guide to Faerūn||-0.14|
|Races of Destiny||+0.29|
|Races of Eberron||+0.78|
|Races of Faerūn||+0.29|
|Races of Stone||+0.44|
|Races of the Dragon||+0.4|
|Races of the Wild||+0.5|
|Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde||+0|
|Tome of Battle||+0.13|
|Tome of Magic||+0.25|
Books that are missing are mostly my fault for being lazy. Most of them have been rated. When I've caught up with the current feedback, I will add more books to the lists and I will post a (thankfully short) list of books which are still unrated.Older versions of this thread and related materialWhy Down Two PrC are Down Two Tiers.
by Gr1lledcheeseWhy up 2 tier prcs are up 2 tiers
by HCLTier System for PrCs - Your help needed
- the predecessor thread[GitP] Zeal's (in-progress) Tier System for PrCs
- Zeal's GitP post [BG] Zeal's (in-progress) Tier System for PrCs
- Zeal's original thread
The spreadsheet with all the collected information:
spreadsheet in *.ods (OpenOffice) format
spreadsheet in *.xls (Excel) format (zipped)
The scripts I use to convert information from the spreadsheet into BBCode for this forum:Generate Lists by Tier or by Book @ RapidshareGenerate List of Books with Average Tier @ Rapidshare
If anyone wants a file host other than rapidshare, tell me and I'll try to upload it there (if it's free). It's just that as of today (2011-11-25), RS is and has been for a few months, the only hoster that's fast, ads-free and doesn't make you wait.