D&Ders: A question

So I rolled up a new Cleric of Tyr to start a Forgotten Realms campaign with some friends of mine. I’ve never used a Cleric in 3.5 before, so I created my character using a combination of an online character creator, the PHB, and several D&D wikis online (I may have used the Forgotten Realms manual too; I can’t remember). I chose the Retribution and War domains, and thus receive the domain skills “Retaliating Strike” and “Battle Mastery”. Here’s what I wrote down for Battle Mastery:

So, I attempt to use this skill in a fight, and everyone stares at me like I have three heads. They tell me that’s way too powerful for any 3rd-level Cleric to have, and damage reduction that high is generally found on a high-level Barbarian.

I admit, this skill does seem pretty über for a low-level Cleric, but I know I didn’t just pull it and its description out out my ass. Furthermore, I looked it up, and truly, the special ability for the War domain is Martial Weapon Proficiency and Weapon Focus for your god’s weapon. I’ve search the internet and found no skill like the one I wrote down and described above. Does it look familiar enough to anyone that they could tell me where I read it from?

It doesn’t look overpowered to me - at 3rd level it just amounts to a +1 bonus to Dex, Con, attack, and damage, and +2 DR. You don’t get the second +1 until you reach 5th level, and the next +1 at 10th level, and so on every 5 levels. That is, when the rules say things like “per 5 levels”, you need to have all 5 levels before you get the additional bonus, as opposed to “5 levels or portion thereof”. Also, since it specifies caster levels, that means that if you take a level of, say, fighter when you hit 5th level, you don’t get that next +1 until you take another level of cleric.

A barbarian gets DR 2 at 10th level, not exactly “high-level”, and the barbarian’s DR is “always on”, whereas the DR from Battle Mastery is a temporary effect (5 rounds + Cha modifier). And I suspect the full text of Battle Mastery indicates some kind of limit on how often the ability can be used, as I would agree with it being overpowered if you were able to keep it up all the time. When cleric domains grant abilities like this, they’re usually limited to “once per day”, making them essentially “emergency” abilities.

I couldn’t find anything at all when I Googled “Battle Mastery”, so I decided to search on the full text of the ability. Here’s what I came up with:

All of the links I found that matched this appear to be connected to the Neverwinter Nights 2 video game (which is based on D&D/Forgotten Realms), as opposed to the tabletop version of D&D. So I’m going to make a guess that the War domain ability was changed for the video game for one reason or another. I’ll speculate that the reason is that dealing with the whole “deity’s favored weapon” thing was determined to not work well for the purposes of the video game, so they changed it. Alternatively, the video game may be based on the 3.0 rules, rather than the 3.5 rules you’re playing with, and I’m afraid I’m unfamiliar with the particulars of 3.0. Is it possible you were looking at a 3.0 Player’s Handbook when you found that ability? I also see you used an online character creator; it’s entirely possible that tool was outdated.

Aha, I found this on the Wikipedia page for Neverwinter Nights:

(bolding mine)

So that would appear to be your problem - you found the ability in the 3.0 version of the rules, rather than the 3.5 version. There were, I understand, many significant rule revisions between versions 3.0 and 3.5.

So yeah, if you’re playing by 3.5 rules, then your War domain ability is simply Proficiency and Weapon Focus with your deity’s favored weapon.

Reading the quote of the power, something bothered me.

Here it is again.

There’s a few things that bother me, but the biggest one is that that reads like a spell rather than a class ability.

Consider the granted power of the Strength domain.

First, note that the bonus you get is “equal to your cleric level.” The phrase “caster level” isn’t applicable, because nothing is being cast. The ability, if it were a granted power, would use the same language as the Strength domain.

The game uses “caster level” to quantify what a spell can do; for example, Greater Magic Weapon.

The other thing that bothered me is that the bonuses to Str and Con don’t have a type, and they should; probably Enhancement. This enures bonuses don’t inflate too quickly by invoking the stacking rule, which is pretty fundamental to controlling 3.5 play.

Yeah, there’s the problem. NWN may be based on the tabletop rules, but they played fast and loose with a lot of them. The actual war domain to be used in tabletop games can be found on this page. The ability granted is not Battle Mastery, but weapon proficiency and focus with your deity’s favored weapon, in Tyr’s case the longsword. Also, there’s a more complete assortment of domain spells.

Indeed - Barbs don’t get their DR at all until level 7, and DR of 2 (what this gives for a Caster level of up to 5) doesn’t show up until level 10.

So this would grant your Cleric a major class ability of a Barbarian more than three times his level.

It should be noted that Clerics (and Druids) are pretty much the most powerful classes in D&D 3.x.

Really? I was under the impression it was wizards who took that glory. At lower levels they suck, but at even mid level they have enough spells to do some damage. Add to that some of the really fancy/broken feats and/or prestige classes and they can really kick ass.

The general consensus was that druids in 3.5 were completely overpowered/imbalanced. This was largely due to the brokenness of the shapeshifting abilities. The same problems existed with the various wizard/sorcerer polymorph spells (druid shapeshifting shared most of the same mechanics as polymorph spells), to the point that Wizards of the Coast finally released a major overhaul to the game’s various polymorphing/shapeshifting mechanics that functioned as a big nerfbat.

This was all a big reason why there was no druid class when 4E was released. WotC decided to hold the druid back until they could come up with a balanced, non-overpowered version that retained the necessary class flavor.

Clerics and druids were so powerful that the WotC forums had the slang term “CoDzilla”, with CoD standing for “Cleric or Druid”. Either of those classes, with the right feats, would just stomp everything in their path.

Wizards weren’t exceptional at dealing direct damage even at high levels, but were good at altering terrain and crowd control and whatnot. They could even make most skills obsolete, much to the dismay of people playing skill-monkey classes; who needs the climb skill when you can just levitate? Hide when you can turn invisible? Diplomacy when you have charm and mind control spells?

Clerics and druids have another big advantage over wizards: When you’ve got a DM whose monsters always “just happen” to be warded against all the specific types of magical damage you’re most likely to do (“Oh look, my 3rd-level wizard has encountered yet another boss with a Brooch of Shielding*.”), your cleric or druid can say, “Oh yeah?” and then buff himself, draw his weapon, and start bashing heads. A wizard can, oh, fire his crossbow.

  • “… it can absorb magic missiles of the sort generated by a spell or spell-like ability. A brooch can absorb up to 101 points points of damage from magic missiles before it melts and becomes useless.”

Which results in something like you can shapeshift to be a falcon, but you cannot attack, cannot carry object and anything a falcon can do. You can only fly and scout.

Clerics were overpowered in 3.0. Back in 3.0, if a 20th level cleric went up against a 20th level Wizard, whoever won intitative would pretty much win the battle.

In 3.5 they got nerfed dramatically. While little in the class mechanics themselves changed, the spells they could cast were overhauled to reduce the power. To compensate for this, the supplement book Complete Divine listed a whole buch of new feates Clerics could take that exchanged turn attempts for special powers. But considering that classes such as Druids and Wizards weren’t hit nearly as much and were arguably just as overpowered, rather than achieve parity in class design 3.5 just screwed over some classes more than others. In 3.5, the 20th level Wizard would pretty much clean the Cleric’s clock even if the Cleric won init.

Druids got even more overpowered in 3.5 compared to their 3.0 versions. Some aspects were weakened, but others became more powerful and the way the classes realigned, druids became pretty much the strongest class out there as written.

But I spent most of my 3.0/3.5 days playing Living Greyhawk. There were a lot of extra restrictions built in to those campaigns that forbade the truly broken aspects of various classes and limited some of the other overpowering ones. Druids were among the stronger options, but there were a lot of restrictions that reduced them being overpowered.

sigh Remember when Bull Strength lasted an hour per level ? Good times…

Thanks for responding. Turns out the first few replies were correct: I accidentally referenced the Neverwinter Nights wiki to create my character. :smack: Thanks, guys, for helping me figure it out.

Yeah, originally clerical buffs lasted longer, which meant that you could cast them in the morning and they’d be good for a while. It’s been said that even in 3.5 a fully buffed cleric can go toe to toe with anything out there. And that’s no doubt true. However, in a typical combat in 3.5, the cleric doesn’t have enough spare combat rounds to spend buffing himself; he’s better served improving the abilities of the characters who are already specialized for the task at hand rather than making himself into a backup.

In 3.0 the cleric was a true jack of all trades. In fact, a standard four-cleric party with well chosen domains could wipe the floor with any other equivalent level party out there. (With Magic and Travel domains covered, you could pretty much have all the neat utility spells that only mages got. And you could use arcane wands. And nothing’s more annoying than trying to take a party down that can spontaneously heal each other.) I once heard it said that the reason the 3.0 cleric was designed this way was because clerics were typically relegated to little more than glorified healers in 2nd Ed. (And having some experience in 2nd Ed, I can see that.)

But 3.5 came along and relegated the cleric back to being little more than a glorified healer. Better than his 2nd Ed counterpart, but a shadow of his 3.0 version. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, because Cleric was broken. But all 3.5 did was exchange some broken aspects for others. It was still an uneven system. I’m not a fan of class based systems for that reason–it’s almost impossible to have a balanced progression of powers across all classes.

I recall reading some of the designers’ notes for 3.5, and they indicated that the 2nd-level ability-score buffs (Bull’s Strength, Bear’s Endurance, etc.) got knocked down from hour/level to minute/level because, at higher character levels, they were effectively an all-day spell, and they saw too many players using those spells, rather than buying stat-boosting magical items (Belt of Giant Strength, Gloves of Dexterity, etc.)

I think that 4E was pretty kind to the cleric, especially at low levels, when many clerics wound up using 90% of their spells to heal their parties. In 4E, you can be a healer and still lay the smack on monsters (often in the same round).