Wandering Monsters: Talk of Tiers

While there is no Legends & Lore column this week, Wandering Monsters continues its Legends & Lore-like discussions with tiers. Or, more accurately, how spellcasters define and transition through their arbitrary level ranges. Of course given the whole fixation on the tradition angle I cannot say I am surprised.

I am surprised that the article gives credit to 4th Edition, this time for the original implementation of the tier structure, but it leaves out the fact that unlike 5th Edition these transition levels applied to everybody. It was not that the {primary spellcaster} could suddenly ignore more of the rules or have a wider variety of things to do, it was that everyone got something neat that further defined their characters.

But that is also an edition where magic is not only not mandatory, but the "mundane" types also get nice things, so...yeah.

The article describes level 17-20 characters as "almost superheroic", but...how? How is a fighter anywhere close to being superheroic? Is it because she can make four attacks in a round? Is it because she can try to trip things more reliably? Frankly the only class feature that sounds even remotely superheroic is Survivor from the Path of the Warrior, which lets you regain hit points so long as you are above 0, but are at less than half (which, based on a previous column, sounds like the fighter is regenerating wounds).

Comparing it to a 4th Edition epic-level fighter is a bit difficult since you get to actually make a choice, but I will throw out two possible options that popped up when I set the Compendium to Epic Destinies and fighter in the search field: Adamantine Soldier and Undying Warrior.

Adamantine Soldier gives you a passive bonus to Armor Class, resistance to all forms of damage based on your Constitution modifier, lets you treat any save once per day as a natural 20, and gives you a stance that lets you automatically push anything. Basically you are incredibly resilient, especially when you consider that the damage resistance is passive, applies to everything, and the typical level 21 fighter will have a Constitution modifier of around +5.

If that is not impressive enough, Undying Warrior lets continuously come back to life. There is no limit, and the only drawback is that each time you die it takes you progressively longer to come back. The other perks let you heal as a minor action when bloodied, regain healing surges at every milestone (typically every two encounters), and an encounter power that lets you roll extra d20's on an attack.

Mind you this does not factor in epic feats or exploits that you can pick up from your actual fighter class. There is a warlord exploit that I always wanted to get that lets you move--out of turn no less--double your speed and make an attack against a monster that is attacking one of your allies. If you hit the monster its attack misses, and you deal seven times your weapon damage to it.

That is not only crazy-awesome, but far more "superheroic" than a rogue being able to take two actions during the first round of any battle (unless she is surprised, that is).

It clarifies at the very end that this whole tier-thing is just advice for the Dungeon Master, and that they are not looking at any rules tied to tiers "like paragon paths and epic destinies in 4th Edition". The thing is, those are the only rules tied to tiers, and even so tiers were still just advice; you could run a Heroic tier campaign where the characters save the kingdom, or even the world. They could also go planehopping early on, especially since none of the other planes were immediately lethal upon entry. Hell, I ran a campaign that took place in the Astral Sea.

None of this is new. The spreads are just more arbitrary, the milestones are magical, and the spellcasters are quadratic (and woefully necessary).

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