Is Your Home-Grown Prestige Class satisfying? Find out now!

2008 March 21
by Dante

Answer these simple questions to determine if your home-grown prestige class is satisfying to your target audience:

  1. Question: Are the class abilities or features too simple or too complex?

    Correct answer: No. If your prestige class is too simple, chances are good that you will achieve the same results by simply rewarding the character with some magical item that will emulate the increased prowess that you desire (see the Weapons of Legend sourcebook for some great examples).

    If it is too complex, then you run the risk of overwhelming your player with too many decisions and even worse, you could introduce some wildly powerful combination of effects that could unbalance your game.

  2. Question: Does the power level of this class make sense given the level, skill, and class prerequisite requirements?

    Correct Answer: Yes. Always be careful to balance the base character class requirements against common prestige classes of similar types. For example, the Duskblade is combination fighter/sorcerer. Notice that the class does neither area particularly well, and I am certain that is by design, so the fighter in you gets a taste of the magic, and the sorcerer in you gets to swing a sword around (and miss, at mid to higher levels). You shouldn’t have a fighter capable of taking on the Tarrasque and a sorcerer that can curl Elminster’s beard all in one package at the end, that would be what the common folk call unbalanced.

    Be sure to not overpower your prestige class just to add to the cool factor, or else you run the risk of having a single player character capable of “ruining the game” for everyone else with their superior skills.

  3. Question: Does the player running your prestige class constantly ask you for an increase or adjustment?

    Correct Answer: No. If you have a certain player that is midway through your prestige class constantly asking for an adjustment of skills or prerequisites this can indicate that you got some permutation of your calculation incorrect. In addition to the “wow factor” of a prestige class, you should always aim for the “satisfying player experience” prerequisite that will make the cool class that you created fun to play.

    You don’t always want to leave your audience (in this place your player) wanting more. Prestige classes should gain skill and renown commensurate with experience, and not be handicapped in some aspect so much that they cease to be fun.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. kanati permalink
    March 22, 2008

    And this is why I don’t create my own classes or prestige classes. They require a lot of play-testing to get them right. As creator you never take into account everything. As soon as it’s out in the wild, some player is going to do something that you didn’t expect. That you didn’t count on. And at that point the player will find the weakness and exploit it, or find that it just don’t work for him/her at all.

    So unless you have a significant amount of time for play-testing and figuring out all of those little tweaks and twists and need to be made, then it’s best to leave the class creation to the pros who DO have that time.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    March 22, 2008

    Two notes about the same thing:

    One, the duskblade is not a PrC. It is a full 20-level base class. I believe you were thinking of the Eldritch Knight, which is the same concept, albeit with a significantly lower amount of munchkinly cheese.

    Two, any and all comments I make, on the Wizards boards or elsewhere, regarding the duskblade, are made from very painful experience. Using a straight human duskblade build in the Eberron Campaign setting, a player in my campaign managed to, on a regular basis:

    – kill CR-appropriate monsters without help in one or two rounds with channeled spells…
    – provide more artillery magic than any other caster in the party (until we gained a psion, that is)… AND…
    – out-perform the gnome bard/inquisitive on Knowledge rolls (due to placing a lucky 18 in Intelligence and taking the Master of Knowledge and Education feats).

    Thankfully, this player stopped attending sessions around level 8, and the other players got a chance to something once in a while…

    – MolotovH (random web-surfer)

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